Labor Wants More
“We do want more, and when it becomes more we shall still want more. And we shall never cease to demand more until we have received the results of our labor.”
Samuel Gompers, 1890
As business got big, workers organized into unions to gain power and protect their interests. Unions negotiated the pace of work, the length of the workday, a less arbitrary hiring and firing system, safer workplaces, and a bigger share of profits. Unions benefitted from a growing working-class identity, but struggled with divisions based on skill, race, gender, and nationality. Labor also confronted companies that used the courts, government, and violence to discourage workers from unionizing.
Workers gained power through unions but organizing workers was challenging. Different leaders followed a variety of fundamental approaches to form lasting and effective groups.
Workers gained power by withholding work and striking. Managers sometimes responded violently.