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Labor Unions

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The industrialization of America gave rise to a new and powerful class of business owners. The rise of power also lead to the abuse of power. Labor Unions formed in desperate efforts to change working conditions under the rule of the higher class. Public and government support was not behind these unions because the ideas they strived for seemed to be in direct contradiction to the traditional perspective of the American Dream.

Labor Unions viewed many practices of their employers to be unjust. They saw with their own eyes the excessive wealth and leisure of the upper class that resulted from their daily toil of at least ten hours of hard labor. Their own fruits of their labor amounted to barely enough to survive until the next paycheck. Even with these hours and wages many of them were perpetually in debt and went without some necessities. These abuses were targeted by the demand for a minimum (livable) wage law and the work day to be mandated to eight hours. With these demands not being met, other factors were adding to the poor conditions. Many times, the working environment was dangerous and unstable. Injuries and mutilations at work resulted not in compensation but in being fired. A new body was always waiting to take the job of someone who missed a single day of work or died prematurely from unsafe working conditions. A single illness could cut off the financial support of an entire family. There was nothing to aid them other than charities until they could find a new job, and the wages they had earned would not last long. The Labor Unions wanted job stability. They worked to end slave wages and dangerous conditions that were inhibiting workers in their pursuit of happiness.

Although it may seem that these demands were justified in the theory that every American should have the right to work his way up the economic ladder in the country that was home to free trade. The “free” part was the issue that showed the contradiction to the Labor Unions. Laissez-faire was embraced by business owners and politicians alike. This system supported the idea of freedom to manage one’s own capital as one sees fit. They believed that the since the success or failure rested upon the owner’s management skills and his grip on economics then he should have the right to fully control

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