Tuesday, May 21, 2013
April 10, 2013
For centuries, women living in the United States were restricted in what actions they could perform in the public sphere, including working.1 Often confined to their roles as wives, daughters, or mothers, women’s political voice in government and American society did not hold as much weight as men’s. With the World War II era, however, gender roles underwent a considerable transformation.1 A defense industry emerged in the United States to meet the demand for military supplies and food production.2As millions of men entered military service, women were left to fill their duties in industrial factories and the U.S. defense industry. The use of posters and many other forms of propaganda were used to recruit women for these previously “masculine” jobs. A very iconic figure at this time was Rosie the Riveter, who was a fictional character in which helped to encourage women into the workforce during this time period.
March 29, 2013
Southern Farmers: The Real Gangsters of Prohibition
“Schmitt grew up cooking moonshine. His grandfather taught his father, and his father taught his brother. Every August, after the hay was in and before the corn was ready to harvest, Schmitt’s father set up the still.”1
White lightning, hooch, mountain dew- Americans have been drinking moonshine since they figured out how to make it. Recently, moonshine has been entering mainstream entertainment through reality television shows like Discovery Channels “Moonshiners” and top charted movies such as Lawless. Although moonshine was consumed by people all over the United States, it is predominantly a southern commodity. In the 1920s and 1930s moonshine production and consumption was heightened due to Prohibition. While history has glamorized the consumption of this illegal drink through speakeasies and gangsters, it is important to consider the makers of moonshine, the southern farmers who had been, and continue to, produce moonshine for themselves and a nation that has always demanded alcohol. In a time when class and social status meant everything, the illegal use of moonshine was a secret connection working men and women of the north and south shared. Working class men loved to drink, upper class men loved to make money, and southern farmers loved making moonshine. It wasn’t always a smooth operation but southern farmers, who otherwise would never have made history, became heroic during this time when states were going dry and the federal government had decided to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol. The Southern farmers involved in producing, selling, and consuming moonshine, as well as those who were part of the fight against it, formed an alternate working class of the early twentieth century.
Monday, May 20, 2013
March 29, 2013
Cambridge Dictionary defines minimum wage as “the smallest amount of money that an employer is legally allowed to pay someone who works for them.” The lower minimum wage in the U.S. is a serious problem that affects hundreds of thousands Americans every day. Most of the American has experience to work at low-paying job in certain period of life. The federal minimum wage law established in 1938, and increased every few years to offset inflation. From 1997 to July 24, 2007 the federal minimum wage was constant at $5.15. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour which is still lower wage. Many states have their individual minimum wage. The minimum wage has some exceptions under certain circumstances. Workers with disabilities, full-time students, workers below age 20, tipped workers, and student learners are on that case. They have a different minimum wage rate . The federal wage law is administered by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
ROSIE THE RIVETER IN WORLD WAR II
Strong, hard, tough and by all means beautiful; a pure representation of a woman’s body stuck in a man’s role. This image would stand apart from the Second World War era all in its own and this iconic symbol is known as Rosie the Riveter. The height of the war, from 1942 to 1944, marked the turning point for women and their roles in society. The social and economic aspects of life in this duration of women’s defense made great changes in the United States. Women’s roles in unions and relationships not only with men but with society sparked a shift in the gender construction. "We Can Do It!" this is not a complete sentence, just the slogan itself is not enough, you need to add more to it to make it a sentence Early in 1943, a popular song came out called "Rosie the Riveter,"1 shouts from the streets; women were coming out from their kitchens and into the workforce, many women were already working – not every woman was in the home – it was just that more women were moving into traditionally “masculine” jobs like defense factory work, shipbuilding, an experience all in its own. Middle class women shouldn’t work was a view taken by many men and people in society. As a division of class it showed how women always worked, like the lower classes and minorities who had to provide for their families. But now in this industrial war equipment era, women were needed to fulfill the void of men in battle and pursue this new lifestyle. We will explore feminist acts, labor unions and childcare and the many ways women came into their own in an effort to excel with men.
May 8, 2013
Great Railroad Strike of 1877
When people look back and think of the violence in labor history in the United States some may think back to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. This strike was our country’s first major railroad strike. The United States needed railroads to function properly in this period and the strike threatened this system. It threatened the system by bringing about much violence and disaster to not only the railroad tracks thus hurting the companies but to the cities that the tracks passed through as well. This strike also negatively affected many lives. Many fires raged in places such as Philadelphia, and many people were killed or injured, not just strikers and militia/troops but also bystanders. Even though the Great Railroad Strike lasted only a couple of weeks, the violence that tore through the nation had effects that lasted much longer.
Postal Strike of 1970
The Postal Strike of 1970 was the first national postal stoppage in the United States and the largest walkout against the U.S. federal government. Once it occurred, it impaired the functions of different industries and entities including the U.S. government, Wall Street, the garment industry, department stores, and many individuals. The strike was short it just lasted two weeks. The workers were peaceful but confident in their demands that needed to be met before they were willing to return to work. In the end, they were successful.
The Pullman Strike of 1894
The Pullman strike was one of the most influential labor movements in United States history. It exemplified the strife between working class and owners to a degree that was heightened by the national attention it captured, especially when President Cleveland sent government troops to squash the railroad car workers’ protests. The motivation for the strike and boycott was resistance to Pullman Company owner George M. Pullman and his refusal to arbitrate for higher wages or lower rent in the Pullman town. Pullman employees joined the American Railroad Union (ARU) and declared a boycott on all Pullman cars. This single labor strike quickly grew into a hostile event.
May 1, 2013
Activists, Editors, or Terrorists?
Political expression can be a very dangerous concept. It has been common throughout most of human history for a regime in power to suppress any person or persons in opposition to it. It is a widely held belief in our democracy that suppression does not occur because free speech and expression form the foundation of our government. Sadly, this is not the case. Violent suppression of political opposition occurred with some regularity in industrial America. One example that illustrates this perfectly is the persecution of eight anarchists after the Haymarket Square bombing. Some of these men were not even present at the time of the bombing; yet, they were arrested and executed for a conceived conspiracy surrounding the explosion. Two of these eight in particular were arrested and tried because they were organizers for pro-labor organizations and political parties as well as editors at major pro-labor newspapers. The prosecution’s evidence surrounding these two, Albert Parsons and August Spies, was mostly from their own publications that urged worker solidarity against the capitalists in Marxist terms. In the end, Albert Parsons and August Spies were not executed for conspiracy; they were executed for Anarchism and the Eight Hour Movement.
The Haymarket Affair
The Haymarket affair refers to the bombing that occurred after a labor demonstration on May 4th 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago. The reason that this event is so significant in working class history is because it would lead to the creation of “May Day”, a day of celebration for the international labor movement. By examining the history of The Haymarket Affair it can become much more transparent how a simple protest turned in to a riot that left several dead and over 100 injured and resulted in the execution of four labor activists from the Chicago area.
The Powerful Women of the 1940s
After Germany’s defeat in World War 1 they had to agree to the Treaty of Versailles. The Germans were embarrassed, angry and blamed their government. As the German government’s power decreased, the Nazi party and Hitler’s power grew and grew. Hitler allied with Japan and Italy as the Axis of Powers to try and gain world power. With World War 2 starting, America went in isolation in the hope that the Allies, Britain and France would win and they would not have to be a part of it or involved in any way. When the Japanese attacked and bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Roosevelt declared the United States’ entrance into the war. More than a million American men were drafted into the war leaving millions of jobs and families behind. This was a very powerful time for women in history; they took on jobs such as working in the hospitals, radio operations, factories, and the wartime defense industry while continuing to take care of their families and home. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of American workforce went from 27 percent and increased to about 37 percent. By 1945 approximately one out of every four married women worked outside their home. These very important women are known as “Rosie the Riveters.” Rosie the Riveter was a fictional character that represented the women working class in World War 2. Through movies, posters and photographs the Rosie the Riveter propaganda campaign was used to successfully recruit female workers.1 This paper will focus on Rosie the Riveters, the women of the wartime working class during World War 2 and the contributions and efforts they made to end the war.
The 1950s were a very significant time period in the history of the United States working class. An anti-Communist crusade during this decade, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, led to the “red-baiting” or targeting of certain individuals, viewed as “un-American” Communist sympathizers. Among those targeted by McCarthy were the Hollywood Ten. This paper focuses on the individuals who made up the Hollywood Ten, and how the themes and creativity of their films help to illuminate history of the U.S. working class.
The 1911 Triangle Factory Fire’s Effects on The US Working Class
The purpose of this paper is to examine the Triangle Factory Fire in 1911. Primary emphasis will be given toward managerial negligence, hazardous working conditions, economic oppression, and the new demand for safer, fairer labor conditions. The goal is to provide a conceptual overview of these factors, and the relationships therein with regard to the United States working class.
Effects on Children during the Dust Bowl
Most literature about the Dust Bowl focuses on how the Depression era affected the lives of adults. Children, however, were tremendously affected during the Dust Bowl era and migration as well. When the middle of America began suffering from drought, land dispossession, and poverty, families struggled economically, financially, politically, and emotionally. Some children had to witness and experience their families breaking up either before or during their westward migration. The children had no control over this and it affected their lives greatly. Examining the history of the Dust Bowlers through the eyes of children is important to working class history because it shows how younger members of this class had to confront and survive this economic issue.
The Big Three
Throughout the twentieth century the “Big Thriee” automobile companies based in Detroit Michigan have gone through several revolutionary changes from their humble beginnings in the 1900’s and 1920’s, to the “too big to fail” super-giants that can be observed today.1 By name these three automobile companies are General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford which even in the 1920’s were of the worlds top seven largest automobile companies2. During the mid-twenties the concept that sold cars was luxury, and although the employees assembled high-class vehicles they couldn’t afford themselves; the three companies especially Ford gave high wages in relation to the area, and adequate treatment3. The great success of the 1920’s followed suit through the muscle car era of the 1970’s but sadly all American Auto Industry suffered a major recession in the 1980’s that has still left it in recovery even to this day4.
Rosie the Riveter
During World War II, when war production was expanding with the creation of a defense industry and men were being shipped out to war, the United States needed a replacement work force. When the number of employed women equaled the national unemployment total in 1939, Norman Cousins suggested we “simply fire the women, who shouldn’t be working anyway, and hire the men. Presto! No unemployment. No relief rolls. No depression”1. This attempt of blaming women for the loss of jobs was around the time of the Great Depression. Beginning in 1942 the U.S. government urged women to work in spite of previous efforts, to exclude them from the labor force. This transformation of the U.S. labor force was aided by the careful, but strategic creation of the most ideal worker-- patriotic, effective, beautiful, loyal, and fictional “Rosie the Riveter”. The federal government used this character’s bandanna and proud attitude as campaign propaganda to sell women the significance of the war effort, and inevitably re-shaped the role for women in the working class by granting them access to jobs that pre-existed solely for men, and enabling them to carry these tasks out with pride.
Haymarket Square Riot Affair
On May 4, 1886 a riot took place in the city of Chicago, Illinois at Haymarket Square. As a result, many people died and many more were injured. It was reported that seven policemen and four workers died. This event is remembered in the history books because it is an event that changed the history of Chicago, had an impact on the American labor and the United States overall. It affected the working class of Chicago in many different levels.
The Great Strike of 1877
It was the summer of 1877, the US was amid its fourth year of a depression, and wages were being reduced by another ten percent. It started in Martinsburg, Virginia, and would spread to a number of different cities throughout the US. “It was an explosion of ‘firsts.’” The Great Strike of 1877 was the first national strike, as well as the first strike that had to be broken up by the U.S. military.1 Also known as The Great Upheaval, it was the “most violent labor-management confrontation” up until this point in American history. It was the beginning of an era of controversy between employees and employers.2
“The Great Strike was a creature of one of the periodic economic downturns that have caused misery for working people throughout U.S. history.”3 Following the Civil War, there was shift towards an industrial economy; there was a massive rise in companies and corporations. Railroad companies showed the most growth. “In 1850, barely more than 2,000 miles of track had been laid. By 1877, over 79,000 miles of track were in use, giving the U.S. by far the most extensive rail system in the world.”4 On September 18, 1873, the nation entered a state of panic, a result of financial institutions running out of means of financing due to the distribution of bad loans. The Panic of 1873 sent America into an economic depression. Out of the 364 railroads that existed at the time, 89 went out of business. Other American companies also met the same fate. By 1875, over 18,000 companies were unable to withstand the economic burden and collapsed.5 There was a tremendous number of unemployed. As unemployment and the depression continued, people were desperate for work. People, unable to feed their families, were on the verge of starvation. According to Labor’s Untold Story, written by Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais, “By 1877 there were as many as three million unemployed [roughly 27 percent of the working population]…And the wages of those employed had been cut by as much as 45 percent, often to little more than a dollar a day.”6
Industrial Workers of The World
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was a radical industrial union group that was a prominent during the early 1900s. The IWW was founded in Chicago in 1905. The group promoted the ideas of the abolishment of capitalism and wage labor, and a movement towards all workers being united under one social class. The group was founded by socialists and anarchists, and radical trade unionists from across the United States. The I.W.W was a very radical right wing organization. It opposed left wing conservative unions mainly as the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Though the radical actions of the IWW were construed has detrimental it created more improvements to the United States working class environment than it did chaos and havoc, starting with these founding members.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
There were many advances for workers in the Twentieth Century. Labor unions were formed and legislation was enacted to protect workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 insured a minimum wage and abolished child labor. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave workers the legal right to join a union and the right to collective bargaining. The Social Security Act of 1935 insured financial assistance for older and handicapped workers. Many benefitted from these advances, but agricultural workers were left behind, most of who were Mexican American or Filipino. That all changed when Cesar Chavez decided to devote his life to improving and securing the lives of farm workers. It wasn’t only a labor struggle, but a fight for equality and respect for Mexican Americans.
Awa Daro Mbodj
Working Class Women in USA
Work is very important for every human being in order to survive. People need money to satisfy their needs, and most of the time in order to get money you have to work. However, working is not easy for everybody. Women struggle a lot in this domain. They face a lot of obstacle. Most of the people think that women have to stay home and take care of the family; her job is being a housewife. However, women don’t want to do tha;t they want to go outside their get a job and fight their rights in order to be equal with the working class men. It is not going to be easy because they will face discrimination, race, gender, and inequality. In this essay, I will talk about race, and gender discrimination.
May 3, 2012
Sweatshops and the Uprising of 20,000
Sweatshops are a type of workshop that utilizes low wages, poor working conditions and long working days. Sweatshops have been around for many centuries, however, they became more common in the United States in the late nineteenth century to early twentieth century. They were part of a phase of economic development, enforcing the employment of lower class, immigrants, even children as a way to profit off of cheap labor. “The sweatshop, whether in a modern factory building or a dark slum cellar, exists where the employer controls the working conditions and the workers cannot protest.”1 Any worker caught protesting ran the risk of being dismissed. In one given work day there was no set amount of hours, and the worker was paid based on the amount of piecework that had been done. The majority of workers were immigrants that were easily manipulated into working for low wages.
Martyrs of the Haymarket Affair
A lot of our working class history is under discussed or not discussed enough. Some
because it’s believed its unimportant, other reasons thought to be it didn’t affect anything in the
United States. The Haymarket affair is an example of a part of history that is somewhat hazy, but
the results being felt worldwide. Men and women fighting for the eight-hour day that U.S.
workers have today and the injustice that was serviced to them when they were just fighting for
their basic rights.
Jennifer P. Sanchez
The Great Depression, World War II, and Post WWII Effects on the Working Class
For decades the American working class has been struggling for better conditions, higher wages, and safer work. Prior to the Great Depression and World War II the working class’ conditions were extremely poor and at one of the lowest points in history. In this paper I will be discussing how the Great Depression and World War II helped transform the working class’ work conditions and wages. These two events collectively improved the working conditions and living conditions for the working class. During these two time periods the history of the working class was a roller coaster of a ride, but eventually these workers united in fighting for their rights. Many workers feared losing their jobs and due to desperation and necessity were forced to endure the harsh conditions and low wages. The rise of unions helped these workers unite and protest without fear of repercussion.
Theres a blissful ignorance that permeates through American culture. While 80% of the world lives on less than $10 dollars a day most of us have no qualm dolling out the equivalent for a large value meal at our favorite fast food chain1. Perhaps we could chalk it up to our elevated standard of living or the successes of free market capitalism, but something tells me the artificiality of “Value” is propped upon the exploitation of someone else. Much like our propensity to easily dismiss who hand stitched our shirts, mined our precious gems and minerals, or the true costs to our contrived petroleum prices and the subsidies and wars which serve to only manipulate them. Now its not my intention to oppress any reader with insurmountable guilt, it wouldn’t seem particularly normal to question every single element you put in or on your body, convenience isn't simply a luxury anymore, its an integral part of American life. The status quo today demands a system that propagates uniformity, value-centricity, and outlandishly accessible goods and services. While most would assume that the human rights atrocities of the world are relegated to far flung third world nations or distant historical memories, they persist still here and now. The plight of the migrant worker in the U.S. today will make even the most apathetic amongst us to reevaluate the true “Value” of the food we eat.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Metsha A. Renois
March 29, 2013
Rosie the Riveter
“We Can Do It” is a phrase often used as a reassurance to others and oneself. It is also used as a way to encourage and motivate. This saying implies that someone is very much capable of overcoming an obstacle, doing what may not be expected of him or her and overall achieving great things. During World War Two, the use of this simple phrase unintentionally began a movement that would impact the lives of everyone during the war and for years to come.
Within all cultures and societies of the world there are underlying rules and traditions that should be of norm. One such aspect of society is the way of living and how one shall obtain the necessities of life to live. Within the United States of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many people had to work positions held by others for currency, usually in factories and industrial positions. During this time a huge boom of industrial and factory work arose, leaving laborers to know little of their positions. Along with factory work came the concept of Taylorism, or scientific management, which caused great struggles for the workers and left them disconnected from their work, themselves and others.
During the industrial and factory work boom in the United States of the early twentieth century, the concept of Taylorism, or Scientific management of the workplace caused great struggles of exhaustion and injury to everyday workers. With the incorporation of Taylorism into industrial work it provided a feeling of alienation from ones work, better known as Marxism. Taylorsim affected the whole working population similarly for all the workers but also differently for lower class immigrants and racially different populations. Industrial Engineer Fredrick Wilson Taylor devised the notion of yielding production into its most effective state, to create products and minimize skill for employee training time.
March 27, 2013
The Wages of Sin
It is November 29th in the year 2012 and the sounds of disgruntled workers echo through New York City. At this time, fast food employees are striking in the name of low wages and no cross franchise union to unite them. They strike in the hopes that people will understand their struggle to survive on their extremely low income. The strike was funded by the Service Employees International Union, and was inspired by the strikers of Wal-Mart after black Friday. The goal in mind for these strikers is to achieve a livable wage of $15 per hour. Currently, the average fast food employee scrapes by at $18,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics1. This is the poverty line for a family of 3. According to Forbes, the CEO of McDonald’s James A Skinner brought in a yearly salary of $20.71 million in 20112. The fast food industry shows one of the largest disparities between income of the employees and income of the company in the world. November 29th is not the only strike in recent times to bring awareness to this issue. On April 4th, 2013, over 400 fast food employees in New York City walked out during their lunch rush in protest against their low wages and inability to form a cross franchise union. In New York, this movement funded by the SEIU is called Fast Food Forward. The website offers a petition for visitors to sign and information for their case. This paper will address the issues that fast food employees face with their employers and why they are fighting to achieve their livable wage.
Scientific management, also known as “Taylorism” often gets a bad wrap due to the amount and speed of work that must be done by a worker. What most don’t realize is that Taylorism was and is an integral method of how the country, as a whole, advanced and how it will continue to advance in the future. The idea of combining science and business management sparked the theory of Taylorism and led to an increase in factory output, but consequently led to a more undesirable workplace for the men working there. Through the careful analysis of factory workers in the turn of the 20th century, economic efficiency would improve significantly. Although the actual idea of Taylorism was deemed obsolete, modern manufacturing and economic efficiency is highly influenced by the themes and ideas presented in scientific management.
The Glass Ceiling Concept: Women’s Equality in the Workplace
The glass-ceiling concept was an idea that was coined by the Wall Street Journal in 1986. A glass ceiling, defined in simplest terms is an invisible boundary that prevents women from being promoted. In the corporate world, women face challenges to rise up into powerful positions, despite equal amounts of education and qualifications. Women in the professional world have long struggled to become top earners, simply because they are women. The glass-ceiling concept can be described in many ways, all definitions are describing the oppression of women in the work place. Women still make less than men in equal positions of work. For every dollar a man makes, a woman will make .80 cents, on average. “The average earnings of men grow far more quickly than the average earnings of women,” says Weinberg.1
White lightning Way
Copperhead Road by Steve Earle
We Put The Fun In Funerals: America’s Funeral Directors
“If there’s nobody in the hearse, there’s no money in the purse.”1
The funeral industry is considered to be one the most stigmatized industries in the United States due to the morbid nature of the work involved. The funeral industry is comprised of dedicated and hardworking individuals performing the essential service of caring for the dead. Their jobs entail many responsibilities such as performing a public health service of removing, transporting, and embalming bodies to prevent the spread of disease, and acting as counselors for grieving families and friends of the deceased during the planning and directing of memorial and funeral services. Funeral; industry employees are just as valuable, if not moreso, than other members of the U.S. working class for the labor that they perform. Those in the funeral industry commit themselves to working on a twenty-four hour a day three-hundred sixty-five days a year schedule due to the unpredictable nature of their work. While some may believe the funeral industry to be repulsive, my personal experiences of working as a receptionist in a funeral home, have lent a more sympathetic and critical perspective on those who commit themselves to working within this labor sector.
Working Class Women’s Contribution to the “War Effort”
The United States’ entrance into World War II called upon all American people—men and women, young and old-- to aid in the war effort. The war not only required men and women to work overseas, but take on new work on the home front as well. Once the number of military volunteers decreased and the draft was set in motion, the male population began to dwindle rather quickly. Women, mostly from the working class, were called upon to fill the positions of those men who had left for war. Before the war, the majority of women who worked were often young and single. Once the war began, however, women of all ages, both married and single flooded into the workplace. Contributing to the war effort was incredibly important to many women. According to the National WWII Museum of New Orleans, “not only did they give their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers to the war effort, they gave their time, energy, and some even gave their lives.” This paper will focus on the women who made up the wartime working class during the early 1940s and will detail their contributions to the war effort, their personal achievements, and the government’s treatment and recruitment of these women workers.
While the purpose of education can be viewed a multitude of ways, it has been generally understood by the working class as the route to a better life. Whether education meant one’s child could have the tools to become a physician, or simply the ability to understand all of their one’s natural rights as a resident of the United States (instead of citizen, because not everyone who attends school in U.S. is an American citizen), working class parents have known over time that education could help their children—the next generation—experience more upward socioeconomic mobility. Historically, the movement to make public education more available, more efficient, and equal for all has been difficult and filled with obstacles. Working class families wanted their children to be educated on the same level as other families living above their means, but were often not given the same resources to do so. As a center of immigration and working class history, New York City provides a powerful example as to what the possession of an education meant to working class families. While the struggle for a better system of public schools in New York City seems to be a permanent one, the 20th century held many important changes for the New York City school system, which directly affected the education given to working class families.
The U.S. Working Class and Health Insurance
An important issue for the United States’ working class is health care reform. Health insurance is defined as insurance against loss through illness of the insured.1 In other words, health insurance is a type of benefit plan that employers give to their employees in case of an unknown injury or accident. The U.S. health care system revolves around private sectors like hospitals and clinics. Unlike the United States, countries like Canada, France, and Italy publicly fund national health insurance by the public and through grants.2 Health care reform has been a controversial topic in present times because of topics like the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which indicates that income, age, and other socioeconomic factors play a role in the considerable differences in the scope and variety of health services available to the working class individuals; the “baby boomer” generation, which was a time period of high infant rate and low morality rate; and certain trends.3 This paper will explain how access or lack of access, to health insurance impacts the lives of working class Americans, their decision making when it comes to employment, and employers’ decisions to exploit their workers.
United States Child Labor:
Of the 19th and 20th Century
April 12, 2013
In the late 1800s, the United States population amplified due to immigration and a decreased death rate. During this time the employment of young children to significantly increase. IN both the 19th to 20th centuries child labor became a topic of controversy for United States citizens, especially parents of child laborers. “The Social Welfare History Project states that historically child labor is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”.i Child labor involves at least one of the following characteristics: it violates a nation’s minimum age laws; threatens children’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being; involves intolerable abuse (such as child slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, or illicit activities), prevents children from going to school; or uses children to undermine labor standards.ii Still, in the late 1800s, the strong demand from factories, as well as mining and agricultural trade on children to work had developed concerns of children not receiving a proper education including crucial job skills, and training. America’s economy caused many people to endure poverty and indigence. It became necessary for children to work in order to contribute to the family’s income.
Old Time Rock and Roll
Working the fields in the south of the United States during the period of slavery was brutal work. Working from before the sun came up until long past it had gone down was not uncommon during the era of slavery. A slave, who had hours of backbreaking labor ahead of him, had to find a way to pass the time. The result, slave songs, often told tales of the slave’s experiences and their hard life. Over time, these songs transitioned from slave group songs into twentieth century music, particularly the blues. This paper will focus on those slave songs, and their transition into the blues, rock and roll and their impact on the working class in America. This musical transition helped create artists that continue to be popularly celebrated today, including Ray Charles and Elvis Presley.
Monday, May 6, 2013
April 5, 2013
The Gift of SUNY Education
The United States has been labeled by many as the land of opportunity, a continually evolving nation that has overcome racial, gender and economic barriers in order to give everyone a fair shot at success. One could argue there was no time period in American history more supportive of this claim than the latter half of the 20th century. It was during this time that millions of Americans took advantage of the newly established public university system which provided aspiring students the ability to acquire an affordable college education. While there are currently hundreds of public universities around the country, this paper will focus on the development of the SUNY (State University of New York) system. By examining SUNY’s historical evolution, one can appreciate the impact it has had on its students and the working class culture in America.
April 4, 2013
The Ludlow Massacre and America’s Outcry over the Killing of
Women and Children Caught in the Crossfire
On April 20, 1914, the Colorado National Guard and guards of several coal mining industry giants stormed the tent camp of a group of 1,200 striking coal miners in the town of Ludlow, Colorado, leading to the deaths of many coal miners in addition to women and children who had been living in the tents. The event, which would become known as the Ludlow Massacre, sparked violence which spanned several weeks and over eighty miles and eventually would claim the lives of up to 200 people. The Ludlow Massacre stands out as an important moment of labor violence in U.S. working class history because women and children outside of the conflict between the coal barons and the coal miners got caught in the crossfire. The death of these innocent family members sent shockwaves across the country and turned the event into a “massacre,” which had the affect of improving conditions for the Colorado coal miners.
A Man's World: Women in the US Mining Industry
In nineteenth century United States history, men made up the majority of the publicly visible working class. Men tended to serve in the crafts, industrial manufacturing, and manual agricultural labor. Though there were women in these sectors as well, such as garment factory workers, many women had positions in more private settings, such as domestic servants, prostitutes, foodsellers, and boardinghouse operators. They ways in which women became more visible in the working class changed with westward migration during the “Manifest Destiny” period of the mid-to-late 1800s. Many women took on the task of traveling across the country with their families, facing hard conditions along the journey and then helping to financially support their families once they reached the West and Southwest. While some women became entertainers or ran boardinghouses as their mode of income, many women took on more physically laborious jobs, one of them being mining.
The working class struggle in the Red Summer of 1919
The history of the working class in the United States is one of much diversity, triumph and defeat. When looking at the labor force in a historical context, individual races are often grouped together and analyzed separately from one another, providing a narrow view of the actual interactions between races. The hostile environments created amongst races when working together sometimes led to large-scale conflicts. One notable time period of unrest was the summer of 1919, deemed the “red summer”, in which there was a race war between white and black laborers after World War I. This article will discuss the causes of this struggle, including the Great Migration, the main events that occurred in Chicago and the skewed media coverage of this event.
The Haymarket Affair
The United States Civil War led to a depression era caused by an economic recession between the years of 1873 and 1879. During these years, factory workers faced undesirable working conditions, long hours, and low wages. Following these years, the national economy began to improve but working conditions in industrial factories did not change. In fact, many would argue, that factory workers faced more obstacles. The obstacles they faced mainly consisted of difficulty in unionizing. Workers were also exploited through the introduction of piece-rates, in which they would have to repeat the same task all day and got paid for how much they produced by the end of the day. They had to keep up with the production pace or they risked the chance of getting replaced. One of the main turning points in the U.S. working class history was the Haymarket Affair. This paper will examine the events leading up to and following the Haymarket Affair and the historical impact that it had in the United States.
Monday, April 29, 2013
The death of Arizona: 1990-2013
29 March, 2013
Immigration has been a constant in United States history and there has always been an immigrant workforce in the American working class. In the nineteenth century, for example, an explosion of immigrant labor from Europe—first northern and western Europe, and then southern and eastern Europe—came to cities like New York and Chicago for new economic opportunities. Meanwhile, various immigrant populations moved to the U.S. West, with the Native Americans and Chinese serving as the first large immigrant workforces and then Japanese, Hindus, and Filipinos following after them. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Mexicans migrated to the United States in greater numbers, and today Mexican-origin people remain a major part of the agricultural labor force in the U.S. West and Southwest. This paper will focus on Mexican immigration to U.S and specifically the state of Arizona in the modern period of 1990 to 2013. Though arguments exist against this Mexican immigrant workforce for taking jobs away from Americans, there is evidence that points to the contrary—that immigrants are an important part of the U.S. working class because they are actually providing a labor force where there is a shortage of willing American laborers. However, in Arizona, immigration has come with a price for Mexicans. With various immigration restrictions put in place by NAFTA, the economic disparity between the U.S. and Mexico, and heightened border security, those immigrants without documents seeking work in the United States face more dangerous and isolated migration routes, which has resulted in many deaths in the Arizona desert.
History of the Working Class
The United States in the 1940s faced a labor shortage that was caused by thousands of Americans entering World War II. The U.S needed to rely heavily on its southern neighbor, Mexico, for agricultural labor. The Braceros program, which began in 1942 and ended in 1964, brought thousands of Mexican to work on farms and railroads in states like Texas, Washington, and California. Through an agreement between the U.S and Mexico, over 4.5 million workers1 were hired between these years. Although these Mexicans--or “Braceros”-- faced many hardships for short period of times, they came back changed both physically and mentally. Braceros, meaning “strong arms2” motivated many Mexicans a hope for a better future for themselves and their families. During the program, most Braceros culture and lifestyle changed significantly and brought great changes for themselves, families, and a different mindset for their future and that of their country, Mexico.
“Red” Emma Goldman
Nicknamed “Red Emma” for her fiery and controversial topics of lecture, and countless crimes against government, Emma Goldman put fear in those who did not understand her. Emma Goldman, who people only think of as a Russian anarchist, was actually a crucial part to working class labor history. She was also imperative to feminism, radicalism and social rights. Goldman is known for her lectures and her writings on the goods of anarchy and her leadership in the anarchist and atheist world. She was a rioter, a troublemaker, a conspirator to murder and rebel to the fullest extent, but she made a huge impact on American history. For this reason, the famous “Red Emma” donned tee shirts and coffee mugs for feminist groups and fashion statements as far back as the 1960s! Although she stood for some questionable topics, and declined to stand for others (such as women’s voting rights), there was reason to each and everything she did. Her life is most definitely one of the most interesting and adventure filled I have ever read about!
April 17, 2013
Two Company Towns - Two Distinct Owners
Two company towns that left an indelible mark upon American history were the Pullman Company town and the town of Hershey. Although both of these company towns share many similarities, only one will emerge as having been a success and the other a failure. The fate of these company towns ultimately resided within the leadership of their owners, Milton S. Hershey, of the Hershey Company and George Pullman of the Pullman Company.
March 25, 2013
The Pullman Strike of 1894
The Pullman Strike of 1894 was an iconic example of the U.S. working class striking and organizing due to unfair compensation and rising costs of the standard of living. The strike is a significant historical event in United States history, displaying the economic strife and oppression of the working class and railway workers of the late 1890s. The strike is also widely known for laying down the foundation for future labor unions such as the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) because of the American Railway Union (ARU) and its role in the strike. The Pullman strike was also the first time the federal government, under the Grover Cleveland Administration, took a special interest in labor unions (specifically the ARU) and aggressively put an end to the strike. The famous strike also brought attention to Eugene Deps, founder of the ARU and future frontman of the Socialist Party of America.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Chelsea Welch, the waitress fired from an Applebee's restaurant in St. Louis for posting a photo of a receipt on which a pastor/customer refused to tip his server, responded to the controversy by highlighting wait staff working conditions here.
Farm work conditions likened to modern slavery (article and video)
Farm worker and Coalition of Immokalee Workers member Leonel Perez speaks out about the substandard wages and conditions he and other migrant workers confront in the United States.
Farm worker and Coalition of Immokalee Workers member Leonel Perez speaks out about the substandard wages and conditions he and other migrant workers confront in the United States.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
In a few weeks we will discuss the history of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, one of the worst industrial disasters in American history. And in March this year, many New Yorkers will come together to remember the fire, its victims, and its legacy.
You may find interesting the work of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition which is now holding a design competition for the creation of a permanent memorial to the victims.
You may find interesting the work of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition which is now holding a design competition for the creation of a permanent memorial to the victims.