Organizers for Students: Reading Guide for American Labor: 1830 - Present

1. What court decision ruled trade unions and closed shop hiring to be legal?

2. As America became more urbanized after the Civil War, the government's role in industry was ruled by a theory known as laissez-faire. Restate the definition of this term in your own words.

3. Did this policy improve the position of American workers? Why or why not?

4. What was the legislation passed by the Knights of Labor in 1885? Did this legislation improve the position of American workers? Why or why not?

5. The strike has been an effective tool of American labor organizations since their earliest days. Describe the Great Strike of 1877 in Pennsylvania in your own words.

6. What was the role of black workers in labor unions over time?

7. What two left-wing groups were involved with the Haymarket Square riot?

8. Who was the founder of the American Federation of Labor?

9. Did the Sherman Antitrust Act support the American labor movement? Why or why not?

10. What tactics did business owners use against labor organizers?

11. Describe the industrial strength of the U. S. Steel Corporation in the early 20th century.

12. Describe the wages and working conditions of American laborers of the same period.

13. What effect did immigration have on labor organizations?

14. Who was the labor activist who assisted in the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World?

15. What factors made "The Wobblies" one of the most radical labor unions?

16. What is the term used for non-union workers who take over labor union worker's jobs during strikes?

17. What advances for American labor occurred in 1913 and 1914?

18. Describe the involvement of the Supreme Court in the conflict over Franklin Roosevelt's National Industrial Recovery Act.

19. Was the labor organization founded by John L. Lewis more or less radical than the American Federation of Labor? Explain your answer.

20. What new tactic did the CIO use in their fight for better working conditions?

21. Why was the Fair Labor Standards Act a major victory for organized labor?

22. How did American's attitude toward organized labor change after World War II?

23. Was the Taft-Hartley Act a victory or a defeat for the American labor movement? Explain your answer.

24. What were the factors that caused the status of the American labor movement to decline in the 1960s?

25. What are the issues facing the American labor force today?