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Labor Reform

Sources on labor reform and labor conditions in American history.

Labor Movement

The labor movement is a broad and ongoing effort to organize workers into unions in order to gain collective strength in negotiations with employers about wages and working conditions. In the United States the labor movement began in the late nineteenth century. As the country entered a long period of industrialization after the Civil War (1861–65), the growth of the national economy required the efforts of a growing pool of both skilled and unskilled workers to increase and maintain production. In this climate the labor movement gathered strength and used strikes to gain concessions from employers. Despite hostility from business and its allies in government, workers became more politically engaged, which led to pro-labor legislative reforms. The strength of unions began to decline after World War II (1939–45), however, as automation of industrial production increased, public sentiment about the labor movement soured over fears of radicalization, and government protections of labor rights eroded. Despite this shift in the fortunes of organized labor, the labor movement succeeded in obtaining higher wages and better conditions for countless workers in the United States.


Read the rest on CREDO Labor Movement (login with your COM account for off campus access).

Reforms & Movements in American History