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Nineteenth Century Industrialsts

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Many skilled workers have been forming small local unions since the late 1700's, but in 1866, ironworker William H. Sylvis formed the National Labor Union(NLU). The National Labor Union was the first large scale national organization of laborers, and was formed to improve conditions for workers.

Before the NLU was formed, the hours, wages and conditions were all bad. People working in sweatshop jobs were paid the lowest wages, sometimes 27 cents for a Child's 14 hour workday. Woman also earned nearly $267 a year, and men, nearly double, with $498 a year. The largest employers, like steel mills, had their employees work 7 days a week. Seamstresses, like most factory workers, usually worked for 6 days a week. Employees also weren't provided with special benefits, like sick leave, unemployment reparation, and reimbursements for injuries suffered on the job. A lot of injuries happened with all the hazardous and faulty equipment, and the inadequately ventilated rooms. All of these situations pushed the capable and inexperienced employees to structure unions against the business owners.

The NLU members wanted improved conditions for all industry workers, like sick leave, unemployment compensation, amongst other things. Also, get all the fair opportunities like better pay and shorter work hours, the NLU was aiming to legalize an 8 hour workday, and it persuaded the United States government for that. Another on of the NLU's main goals is connecting smaller, local unions together. The methods that they used were very peaceful, and they thought of conducting strikes as a last resort, they advocated negotiation and settlements. The NLU pushed and urged the US government for shorter work hours, and they tried many times peacefully, and usually, nothing happened.

Until 1868, however, when the NLU got what they wanted- an 8 hour workweek, but wages were still the same , bad



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