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Labor conflicts/strikes in the late 1800s. Essay sample


The late 19th century was marked by unrest in the industries. Despite factories were equipped with  the machinery, it did not make things easier for workers. At that time, nearly 35,000 workers lost their lives in the factories annually. Labor unions were on the rise as they helped workers to unite and go on strikes in considerable numbers. By the beginning of the World War I, millions of immigrants flew to the US dazzled by its industrial success and job opportunities. Many of them later experienced that a fair salary and safe working conditions were not that easy to achieve.

The Homestead Strike was a massive action that happened at the Carnegie Steel Company’s factory in 1892. The manager of the organization had a conflict with the union of skilled steel workers who had partially controlled the industrial processes. In the result, union members decided to strike around the facility, and Henry Clay Frick, the manager, sent armed men to suppress the action. With several men killed on both sides, the white flag was raised but it did not end the conflict. In a couple of days, the governor of Pennsylvania sent some 6,000 militiamen who finally defeated the union members.

Another great labor conflict of the 19th century was the Pullman Strike that took place in Chicago, 1894. George Pullman was a widely-known manufacturer of sleeping cars used at the railroads all over the country. Pullman built an entire town for his 12,000 workers, but his generosity had limits. When the prices fell in 1894, Pullman cut workers’ wages keeping rent on the company housing high. Workers went on railroad strike that soon spread nationwide. The conflict involved several railroad companies and the federal government. The action was again suppressed by the government, with its leaders imprisoned.