The Union


In colonial
America, most of the manufacturing was done by hand in a home. Labor took place
in workshops attached to the side of a home. As towns grew into cities, the
demand for manufactured goods increased. Some workshop owners began hiring
helpers to increase production. Relations between the employer and helper were
generally harmonious. They worked side by side, had the same interests and The
factory system that began around the mid 1800s brought great changes. The
employers no longer worked beside their employees. They became executives and
merchants who rarely saw their workers. They were less concerned with their
welfare than with the cost of their labor. Many workers were angry about the
changes brought by the factory system.

In the past,
they had taken great pride in their handicraft skills, and now machines did
most of the work, and they were reduced from the status of craft workers to
common laborers. The were also replaced by workers who would accept lower
wages. The Industrial Revolution meant degradation rather than progress. As the
factory system grew, many workers began to form labor unions to protect their
interests. The first union to hold regular meetings and collect dues was organized
by Philadelphia shoemakers in 1792.

Soon after,
carpenters and leather workers in Boston and printers in New York also
organized unions. Labors tactics in those early times were simple. Members of
a union would agree on the wages they thought were fair. They pledged to stop
working for employers who would not pay that amount. “M

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