Labor Union Movement

molly.gif"Recognition of the needs of the American laborer began in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The first child labor law (1836) was passed, whereby employment of children under the age of 15 was forbidden in incorporated factories, unless they had attended school for three months the prior year of their employment. The commonwealth's chief justice, Lemuel Shaw, ruled in the case of Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842), that a trade union was lawful and that its members were not collectively responsible for the illegal acts committed by individuals. Shaw also ruled that a strike for a closed shop was legal.

As farmers' sons, discharged soldiers, and a new wave of immigrants hit the industrialized cities in America, new labor problems arose. Newly educated women, schooled by one of the seven new women's colleges or private boarding schools between 1861 and 1880, joined the overabundance of workers in practically every occupation (except for stevedoring and the building trades) and in nearly every profession (except for the police and the ministry)."

Background Information for Labor Unions - Some great information about what led up to the creation of labor unions. (Note the orange tabs across the top which link to great information.)

Labor Unions - Great site for lots of information about labor unions including the history of labor unions and what their status is today. (Note the orange tabs across the top which link to great information.)

Progressive Movement - This website is a great overview of the time when most reform movements took place. It will help you understand the context of the movements and also give you some insight into their success or failure. A great place to get some ideas for icons to use. (Note the orange tabs at the top which have links to useful information.)

Related terms to guide your search:
  • Pullman strike
  • Haymarket Riots
  • Eugene V. Debbs
  • minimum wages
  • hourly wage laws
  • child labor

Other sources to try: