American Labor Movement and Unions

Spenser Berg

John D. Rockefeller

John Rockefeller was one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company. He first started out with a small fortune in the wholesale food business. He acquired barrel factories, oil fields, oil storage facilities, and train cars. This gave him the opportunity to dramatically decrease the price of oil producing, and shipping. This gave way to the creation of the Horizontal Integration, when one company is in control of the other companies producing the same thing. This impacted the business world and gave a new way for companies to grow.

Great Railroad Strike of 1877

In 1830 only about 23 total miles of track was laid in the United States, then 35,000 by the end of the civil war, and then peaks to 254,000 miles by 1916. By the 1st World War the rail road provided jobs to 1/25 Americans. Due to financial problems, the railroad started cutting jobs, and reducing wages to the employees, some as much as 20%, and slashed work days to two or three a week. The companies announced they are expanding the railways, this caused more protest. Protesters burned a passenger car, crashed a train into a fully loaded freight cars. After all the protests, 39 buildings, 104 engines, 46 passenger cars, and over 1,200 freight cars. This protest was due to the employment, and funding or the railroad.

Pullman, Illinois

Pullman Illinois was once a booming industrial town, It had the living space for its employees and room to grow. Doing this they hoped to prevent strikes, and get greater production, and better living conditions. Pullman used there own companies and products to create the town. This gave him the town a great reputation. Pullmans town was threatened by demolition, but was saved and is now a Historical Landmark.

American Federation of Labor

The American Federation of Labor wanted to unite the entire working class. Tradespeople were in great demand, and earned higher wages then the others. Samuel Gompers was the leader of the group. He learned what everyone wanted. They all wanted higher wages and better working conditions. This Union was focused to the skilled people and tradesmen. This made it easier for the union to get what they want. This only worked for about half the time. They were either completely or partially met.

Labor Unions Today

Today the labor unions are not as essential as they once were, but they still provide a vital role in protecting and helping the American workforce. Today we still have Unions, but know understand more than what they did back then.


"Digital History." Digital History. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"37d. American Federation of Labor." American Federation of Labor []. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"How Labor Unions Work." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Historic Pullman Foundation." Historic Pullman Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"American Experience: TV's Most-watched History Series." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

A Street in Pulman. N.d. Photograph. Cornell Library.Http:// Web.