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Labor Struggles

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Submitted By spikeydealer
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Labor Struggle At the middle of the 20th century, factory owners were faced with a dilemma. Due to industrialization, they could now produce output far greater than they could ever imagine, but the demand for these goods only continued to rise. What could they possible do to produce more and keep this output up? Simple! Hire more than enough people to work in the factories. More people means more production which means more profit. Then another problem aroused. Even though I’m producing much more, im not seeing the incrase of profit I expected because im paying it out to the employees. What should I do? Simple! Cut their wages! Good, now we are finally starting to see some decent cash flow. At the turning point of the 19th century, we began to see a major clash between two factions, the corporations running the factories, and the workers who toiled there day in and day out. But why the conflict? One problem that lead to this clash was the conditions that these workers had to deal with everyday. Most of the workers were young woman or children, and the work they performed was grueling and sometimes dangerous. When Charles Dickens visited the town of Lowell in 1871, he described it as a very beautiful industrial town, with shops and churches that appeared to have been just constructed the day before his arrival and no worse than what he saw over sea’s. He was noted to say, “I saw a baby of some weeks or ten days old at a street corner, I found myself unconsciously asking where it came from, never supposing for an instant that it could have been born in such a young town as that”. So it can be gathered from Dickens that on the outside, this city was a great place to live for the workers. This brings to mind the old saying, “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. For if this place was such a great place to live then why would one of it’s inhabitants, let alone two, commit suicide? In 1841, an editorial appeared in the Lowell Offerings telling of two women who took their own lives. One woman who lived in Lowell had no home and spent her days working in the factory. The idea of having to continue this like was too much for to handle and she ended up taking her own life. But what exactly was the work she had to do everyday at the factory. In “A second peep at Factory Life”, the work conditions were described similar to being in a prison, with a gate that “shut the mill in from the world without”. There was the prison “watchman” who made sure there was no person out when it was time to work. Then the various machineries and rooms where described. Then the various precautionary measures where described on how to maneuver around these machines. “Be careful, or the might hop and catch you”, “ do not get near or one may be knocked over”, or “move cautiously or be painted the color blue”. The workers also, having spent all day avoiding these machine, they were only allowed 30 minutes to eat, then it was back to work and back to avoiding the machine. Because of this way of life, workers had no time for themselves, no time to “pursue happiness”. If someone were to pursue learning or entertainment it was at the expense pf health or rest.
The workers could not complain to the owners about the working conditions. If there was a complaint, then that worker was simply fired and easily replaced. Because they could not rely on the company for help, they had to turn to themselves. By coming together, the workers could decide what was wrong and what needed to be changed. Once these issues were addressed and laid out, a group of their representatives could then bring these issues up to the owners. They would have no option but to hear them, because if their issues where not addressed, then the workers could just stop working.
There were a number of issues that caused problems among the workers. One of which was child labor. Dickens mentioned that the children would work about 9 months a year and were required to be in school the other 3. Because of the size of the child, they were small enough to get into the parts of the machines that needed to be fixed. It’s obvious to see the problem with child labor. They sacrifice their education and are working in extremely dangerous environment. With the huge machines and small children, it’s easy to tell that many of them were severely injured. Speaking of injury, due to the nature of working around such machines everyday, accidents did happen. But the factory oweners did practically nothing to prevent that type of accident from happening again, nor did they provide any assistance to the injured party. And of coarse, the biggest issue of all, wages. At anytime, and probably very frequently, the owner could reduce wages by any amount he wanted. This, on top of all of the other hardships the workers had to put up with, only further added insult to injury. For if they had to work under such conditions, and be compensated so little, why bother work at all? That was the general thinking of the laborers at the Pullman Car Company. These men had been lied to and deceived by Pullman. At first, he told his employees that as long as they worked for him, he would take care of them. He even went as far as to claim that labor unions would ruin this relationship, and anyone found belonging to one would be fired and considered an enemy. In the beginning this was a good arrangement. The employees worked and lived in Pullman's town and he made sure there was work to be done. Then like all good things, it came to an end. The employees were paying rent to Pullman far higher than that of neighboring towns. They were paying this rent from their already low wages, which were being lowered even more frequently. It got to the point that the wages were so low, that the employees felt that they could not sustain themselves. So, like any group of oppressed people, they sat down, had a meeting, and brought these grievances to the people in charge. But what did they find? not only did their complaints fall on deaf ears, but these men of the representative committee were fired! So these men, these laborors of Pullman came to a consensus. They would “remain idle and starve, rather than work and starve slowly”.
This was a good example of how collective bargaining became an effective way of negotiating with employers. If the employees were not heard, then they simply stopped working. But the laborors of Pullman did not have to starve. They were helped by the American Railroad Union in chicago. They sent relief to the laborors of Pullman and it was seen that, “the average workman of that philanthropist-ridden town fared better after they had left work to fraternize with their fellow-workmen than they had fared for years while working”. The ARU even spoke to Pullman on behalf of these workers, but he would not hear them. Pullman was even willing to pay “millions” of dollars to bring his former employees back to their senses, which to me sounds a little ironic, because thats all they really wanted to begin with. So after witnessing the pig-headedness of Pullman, the ARU felt him to be an unfair boss, and were willing to make sure the whole country knew this too. The ARU asked their fellow member to refuse to work with any Pullman cars. This litterally brought thousands of miles of railroad, in all directions to a standstill, and nearly a hundred thousand workmen in a vouluntary idleness, to secure what they believed to be justice for their fellow-workmen. This act could not be ignored by the country, calling for legislation, police to guard people and property and even a militia ready to go if things got out of hand. It is the right of every persons to through off the shackles of their oppressor and overthrow their rule. The laborers are no different then the early Americans who freed themselves from the oppressive rule of England. Even though there was no law against the business practices of people like Pullman and Carnegeige, the way they treated the people did prevent them from obtaining their god given right to life, liberty and above all a pursuit of happiness. Looking at their treatment, it almost seems that their business practices almost violated the laborers thirteenth amendment right against involuntary servitude. In “Ameila, a Lowell Factory Worker on “Wage Slavery””, her situation of coming to work at Lowell somewhat mirrors Fredrick Douglass' account of coming into slavery in his memoirs “My bondage, My Freedom”. She speaks of coming to Lowell under false preteneses, then having to stay there for a period of time, under contract before she is able to go home again. She cannot bring up any issuses, less she be punished, and she most do the work put before her, or else.
The fact of the matter is, the only thing that is of interested to the factory owner is money. And at the time, there wasn't really anyway to handle employees other than fire them and hire replacement. Eventually, all the people with problems will be fire, and the only ones left are the ones who were already fired. The only thing left, is for that factory owner is to compromise.…...

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...Running Head: THE STRUGGLE OF CHRYSLER The Struggle of Chrysler Valerie Steinmetz Pete Rohlman Kelly Jane McLaughlin Cardinal Stritch University College of Business and Management Rich Bruce, Instructor Business Communication January 28, 2010 Over the past ten years, America has had many historic moments. With planes flying into the World Trade Center to the election of our first African-American president, the American public has had much to be excited about and to fear. In more recent history, the American economy has been the main topic. From the Fall of Wall Street, crashing of the housing market, to the fall of the American Automakers. The government has stepped in to save the private market and attempt to restore life to what was once a corner stone in America. Chrysler was one of many companies to be bailed out by the government during 2008. This is a look at where Chrysler started to where they are today. The Chrysler name doesn’t mean much to residents of Kenosha. The auto plant has been called by many names since 1900, when Thomas Jeffery bought a bicycle factory and started mass-producing vehicles. These vehicles had two groundbreaking innovations: steering wheels and front-mounted engines. Historians say it was in Kenosha, not Detroit that cars began “to look like cars.” Vehicles jokingly referred to as Kenosha Cadillacs, were small, inexpensive, and sometimes, homely looking Ramblers.......

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