Urbanization and Unionization of Workers

Urbanization and Unionization of Workers





Urbanization and Unionization of Workers

The history of the United between 1865-1920 covers three important timelines in our history, Reconstruction Era, Gilded Age and the Progressive era. This phase is characterized by a spur of industries and increase in immigration into the United States. There were two major effects of industrialization that will discussed, the first one was urbanization as industries led to growth of cities and the second is unionization of workers, workers from the various industries came together as they were trying to advocate for better pay and better working hours including right to work eight hours in a day.

Many Europeans were suffering from poverty while others were trying to escape religious persecution in their countries. Other pull factors included owning land and participating in the political movement. These factors made them to move to America where industrial revolution had just begun and cities were also sprouting. Industrial revolution was a large part of urban development (Minn, pg. 326-350). Most individual moved from the rural areas moved to the urban areas to seek employment in the industries. Immigrants also moved to the United States to seek employment in these industries.

There were two major waves of immigration: the first was between 1820-1860 and most came from North and West Europe these countries included Germany, France, Great Britain and Ireland. The second phase was 1880-1920 and most came from South and East. Countries included Greece, Italy and other countries in eastern Europe. Between 1870-1920 America had 25million immigrants. They provide labor needed in the manufacturing industry and others brought technological knowledge they had from their countries to America. The Chinese, Irish and Mexican aided in construction of roads and rail works. With settlement of immigrants in towns and near industries there were need to build schools, churches and banking facilities. Transportation also developed to move people from one location to the next, mode of transport included buses, trains, cars, subways and airplanes This led to the growth of the towns and soon America had more cities than any other state in America. The main form of housing during urbanization was the tenements which were narrow five-story buildings and had limited electricity and plumbing. Soon there were crowded houses some with poor sanitation (Wright, pg. 234-254).

In the 1880s, there so many strikes by industrial workers as this was the industrialization period and many people worked in industries. However, the working conditions were not quite convenient for them. These motivated the workers to team up together and start labor unions to help them fight these injustices. The movement was made up of anarchist, communist and socialists who advocated for the dismantling of the capitalist system arguing that the system was exploiting workers (Brexel, pg. 24). Many radicals had migrated from Germany where they did not have the capitalist system and knew change of the system would have an impact on improving the working condition of laborer’s. On May 1st the workers had threatened to strike and go to the streets to advocate on their rights. The workers wanted to be treated better sand in May 4th 1886, the was protest at Haymarket in Chicago that was mobilize by workers. The protest was supposed to be a peaceful but it turned into a riot when someone threw a bomb to the police leading to death of eight people from both sides.

Anarchism in America sprouted in 19th century and grew when it entered the labor movements as well as the anarcho-communist. They campaigned for social reforms and most were against the capitalist system in America. In America Anarchist were majorly involved with the trade movement. Most of them did not believe in authority as well as state powers as they though it was a disadvantage to people in lower social economic class. In Chicago, anarchists were driving force of movement and believed their eight-hour call could only be achieved through solidarity and direct action. They called for workers to strike and wanted to achieve social revolution for the working class on May 1st. it is approximated that approximately 400, 000 workers in Chicago headed to this call. After the bombing incident the authorities figured that arresting anarchist would cripple the labor movement although this tactic was not successful. The anarchist has continued celebrating May Day to show solidarity and that they believed the ideas of their fellow anarchists who were killed (Green, pg. 67-123).

Works Cited

Brexel, Bernadette. The Knights of Labor and the Haymarket Riot: The Fight for an Eight-hour Workday. Rosen Classroom, 2004

Green, James. Death in the Haymarket: A story of Chicago, the first labor movement and the bombing that divided gilded age America. Anchor Canada, 2007.

Minn, Chris. 2000. “Income, Cohort Effects, and Occupational Mobility: A New Look at Immigration to the United States at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” Explorations in Economic History 37: 326-350.

Wright, Richard A. and Mark Ellis and Michael Reibel. 1997. “The Linkage Between Immigration and Internal Migration in Large Metropolitan Areas in the United States,” Economic Geography 73, 234-254