Related BLS programs | Related articles How the workplace has changed in 75 years
February, 1988, Vol. 111, No. 3
Related BLS programs | Related articles
How the workplace has changed in 75 yearsWalter Licht
The Department of Labor owes its inception in 1913 to a crisis in the American workplace.1 For four decades, starting with the great railroad strikes of July 1877, the Nation became witness to a contagion of work stoppages and protests. About 1,500 strikes a year involved more than 300,000 workers; momentous confrontations were accompanied by substantial loss of life, limb, property, and commerce.2 This was the unnerving record of the period, and sufficient reason to search for answers and solutions
Contemporary analysts can offer explanations for the industrial unrest of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Low wages, long hours, unsafe working conditions, irregular employment, capricious supervision, and the antiunion tactics of some managers provided the visible sparks. The underlying powderkeg was the spread and fastening of the wage labor system; dampened prospects for independent producership; increased specialization, weakening of skills, and mechanization of jobs; business cycle fluctuations; the effects of immigration and urbanization; and the developing economic and political power of concentrated capital.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1988 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full article in PDF (1,650K)
Related BLS programs
Related Monthly Labor Review articles
American Workforce, 1992 to 2005, The: Historical trends, 1950-92, and current uncertainties.—Nov. 1993.
Role of computers in reshaping the work force, The.—Aug. 1996.
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome| Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers