In colonial America, most of the manufacturing was done by hand in a home. Labor

took place in workshops attached to the side of a home. As towns grew into

cities, the demand for manufactured goods increased. Some workshop owners began

hiring helpers to increase production. Relations between the employer and helper

were generally harmonious. They worked side by side, had the same interests and

The factory system that began around the mid 1800s brought great changes. The

employers no longer worked beside their employees. They became executives and

merchants who rarely saw their workers. They were less concerned with their

welfare than with the cost of their labor. Many workers were angry about the

changes brought by the factory system. In the past, they had taken great pride

in their handicraft skills, and now machines did most of the work, and they were

reduced from the status of craft workers to common laborers. The were also

replaced by workers who would accept lower wages. The Industrial Revolution

meant degradation rather than progress.

As the factory system grew, many workers began to form labor unions to protect

their interests. The first union to hold regular meetings and collect dues was

organized by Philadelphia shoemakers in 1792. Soon after, carpenters and

leather workers in Boston and printers in New York also organized unions.

Labors tactics in those early times were simple. Members of a union would

agree on the wages they thought were fair. They pledged to stop working for

employers who would not pay that amount. They also sought to compel employers


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