Reforming the Industrial Order Chap 9 Sec 2 Notes

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Reforming the Industrial Order

Chap 9 Sec 2 Notes

Reforming the workplace

  • 1900 the Avg. laborer worked 10hrs/day 6 days/week for $1.50/day women and children were paid less

Female and Child Labor

  • 1900 -½ of women in jobs as factory workers, store clerks etc. earned $6 or less per week

    • Barely enough to survive

  • Significant barriers when try to increase wages

    • Piece workers penalized for working too fast

      • “Outage for a girl to earn $25 a week”

      • would be fired if you protest

  • John SpargoThe Bitter Cry of Children “ in 1906 charged textile industry with enslavement of children

  • Few children had attended school or could read

  • Child worked or family starved

Labor Laws

  • Prohibit or limit child labor and improve conditions for female workers

  • Florence Kelley persuade Illinois legislature to prohibit child labor and limit number of hours women could work

    • More than 2 million children worked in factories in 1910

    • Girls worked 16 hours in canning factories

  • In 1904 Florence Kelley organized National Child Labor Committee to persuade state government’s to pass child labor laws

    • 1912 child labor laws- passed by 39 states

      • Some limited older children’s hours to 8-10 hours/day – barred from working at night and in dangerous occupations

      • Others required that children be able to read and write

  • Enforcement was lax- some owners refused to follow laws

  • George Creel Children in Bondage 1913 describes problem of child labor

    • Also campaigned for laws to force factories to limit hours employers demanded

  • 1903 Florence Kelley helped pass a law in Oregon limiting laundry workers to 10 hour days

    • Utah already had laws limiting workdays to 8 hours in certain jobs

  • Fight for higher wages

    • 30 million men and 7.5 million women employed in 1910- 1/3 lived in poverty

    • Catholic monsignor John Ryan called for establishment of minimum wage in 1910 level to approximate normal standard of living

    • Massachusetts passes first minimum wage law in 1912-set wages for women and children

    • 1938 Federal gov’t pass minimum wage law

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

  • March 25,1911 Saturday

    • 500 employees mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women

    • Finishing shift- fire starts in rag bin

    • 8th floor of 10 story building a blaze

    • Escape impossible

      • 2 stairways- fire doors locked owners afraid girls would steal fabric

      • Elevator shaft jams

    • 60 workers jump to deaths to escape fire

      • 143 die in fire

  • Popular outrage forces lawmakers to pass laws to help workers

    • NY City enacted strictest and first fire safety code in U.S.

Progressivism and Supreme Court

  • Business fought back through courts

  • 14th amendment prohibits states from depriving “any person of life, liberty or property w/o due process of law”

    • Owners claimed regulatory laws deprived them of property

    • Supreme Court sided w/business owners and declared early laws unconstitutional

    • Court also ruled some legislation violated freedom of contract

  • 1905 Lochner vs. New York—overturned law limiting bakers to 10 hour work days

    • Workers should be free to negotiate and accept any conditions of employment

  • Muller vs. Oregon (1908)

    • Supreme Court upheld law limiting hours in laundries

  • Louis Brandeis argued for keeping law on work hours for women - “Brandeis Brief”-format for defense of social legislation- women are fragile

Labor Unions

  • Fought for closed shops- must belong to a union

  • Some favored socialism- government ownership of factories, utilities, transportation and communication


  • American Federation of Labor

    • Samuel Gompers leader

  • AFL grew 4 fold from 1900 to 1914

    • Excluded unskilled workers

    • Mostly eastern European and African American workers excluded

  • Belief that skilled workers had greatest potential to cause change and win higher wages

  • By 1902 only 3% of African Americans were union members


  • International Ladies Garment Workers Union

  • Established in 1900 in N.Y. City

    • Unionize workers in sewing shops

  • 1909 workers in 3 shops walked off job wanted ILGWU to call General strike

  • Nov 1909 “Uprising of 20,000”

    • Workers walked off job and demanded recognition of ILGWU as union

    • Strike lasted throughout winter

    • Got assistance from Women’s Trade Union League

    • Owners brought in African Americans to replace workers- some joined strike

  • Results mixed

  • Membership grew from 400 to 65,000


  • International Workers of the World

    • Wobblies” opposed capitalism

    • Led by “Big Bill” Haywood

  • Denounced AFL cooperation w/business owners and failure to include unskilled workers

    • Enlisted African -Americans, Asians and Hispanics

  • Successes

    • Philadelphia raised wages from $1.25/day to $4/day

    • Pursued goals through boycotts, general strikes and sabotage

    • 1912 led strike of 10,000 textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts

  • Failures – several strikes failed

    • Many Americans grew weary of IWW tactics

    • Government cracked down on union

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