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Period 2


The Problem(s)

  • More women and children began working for large companies.
  • Child labor was used in places where little fingers or bodies were needed, and if a finer or limb got stuck in a machine, you would never see it again.
  • The relationship between employees and employers became impersonal because the employer usually didn’t know the employees.
  • Working hours were long, usually 10 to 14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week.
  • Wages were extremely low with little or no pay for overtime and no vacations or days off.
  • Working conditions were often unsafe as employees had little or no protection from the machines they operated or the unhealthy fibers floating around in the air like in a cotton factory.
  • If an accident were to happen, it was necessary that the employee had to prove that the employer was negligent, and this involved going to court, which most employees could not afford.
  • Strikes formed by unions were usually unsuccessful because the employer would fight back by locking the employees out or hiring strikebreakers.
  • It was easy to replace striking workers because of the huge supply of jobless workers and immigrants.
  • With the failing strikes and unions workers began to join radical groups preaching violence to achieve their rights. Wherever violence occurred, the public didn’t like it and blamed unions.


The Solution(s)

  • Unions have the right to exist.
  • Union workers are allowed to strike, boycott, and picket peacefully.
  • City and state governments set standards by giving their workers eight hour days and better working conditions.
  • Children under fourteen are prohibited from working.
  • Contracts were not to be given to companies that work their employees more than eight hours.
  • The State Department of Labor was created in order to investigate working conditions.
  • The State Department of Mines was created to look into and control unsafe and unhealthy conditions at the mining industries.
  • A law of workmen’s compensation was passed making employers responsible for providing insurance for work-connected injuries.
  • State leaders began to work to urge members of Congress to pass a law restricting the number of immigrants allowed into the United States. This way, employers could not so easily hire as many new immigrants and underpay them.

The Images


external image child_labor_big.jpg
This picture (above) shows a child who worked in industry in the late 1800’s. Children were used to work because many of them had smaller fingers and were able to do little things adults would have trouble with. However, children got paid even less than adults did for their work.
external image tradeunionleagueweb.jpg
This is a picture of a rally for women's labor. During the Progressive Era, many more women began to work in industries. Women also participated in strikes and boycotts.


The Primary Sources

"For many years I have followed the procession of child workers winding through a thousand industrial communities from the canneries of Maine to the fields of Texas. I have heard their tragic stories, watched their cramped lives, and seen their fruitless struggles in the industrial game where the odds are all against them."
-Lewis Hine

Mary Harris Jones talking about the contrast betwenn the wealthy and,
"the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking along the frozen lakefront."

The Department of Labor is responsible for the administration of more than 180 federal statutes that cover protection of workers' wages, health and safety, employment and pension rights, equal employment opportunities, job training, unemployment compensation and workers' compensation, and collective bargaining.
-The Department of Labor was formed soon after terrible working conditions were known of.

The Citations
  • "Department of Labor." ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007.
http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com/library/searches/searchdisplay.aspx?countryid=undefined&nav=rlist&fulltext=progressive%20era&entryid=253438
  • "Lewis Hine." ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007.
http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com/library/searches/searchdisplay.aspx?fulltext=child+labor&nav=rlist&specialtopicid=-1&entryid=247042&categorytypeid=1
  • "The Most Dangerous Woman in the World." ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007.
http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com/lessons/topics/topicdisplay.aspx?conceptid=18&subconceptid=4&fulltext=8+hour+day&nav=rlist