Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 1897-1916

Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 1897-1916

Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 1897-1916

Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 1897-1916

Excerpt

ORGANIZED labor was a permanent force for reform during the Progressive movement in the United States, demanding as it did a redefinition of important ideas in the American tradition as well as an increasing share of the national wealth for the worker. According to the American Federation of Labor's general policy, well organized, prudently managed trade unions would secure better hours, wages, and working conditions through concerted economic action; in practice, however, organized labor campaigned increasingly for labor reforms through legislation, particularly in the decade after 1906. The antistrike injunction and the inclusion of labor unions under the Sherman Anti- Trust Act had to be removed in order to free trade unions for efficient action. Organized labor devoted much of its legislative effort to these two purposes. State labor organizations also discovered that significant steps might be taken toward better working conditions through legislation, although the primary emphasis continued to be on economic action by trade unions.

Unlike many European labor movements, American organized labor generally was not attracted to socialism. In fact the American unions shared many of the middle-class ideas associated with conservatism. Samuel Gompers realized that the middle class in the United States was a state of mind as well as an economic category, and he understood that most of the workers in the A.F.L. were more interested in earning the status and . . .

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