Free Labor in the 19th Century

Learning Objectives Covered LO 03.01 – Discuss three ways that 19th-century class/societal stereotypes evolved into current management and leadership practices LO 03.02 – Discuss the rise of the American labor movement and identify three roles of state and federal governments in labor conflicts LO 03.05 – Identify three ways technology, labor laws, and politics have shaped corporate America Career Relevancy The U.S. has always had a debate about what kind of labor is appropriate, and how much interference the government should have in business and the labor force. Today, this takes the form of government regulation in the workplace; minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and workers compensation are all pieces to this puzzle. Understanding the history helps us understand current labor and workplace conditions, and how we can responsibly respond to them. Social and business landscape has dramatically changed in last 200 years. Businesses side with political parties by supporting them financially and expecting in return legal, financial and procedural favors. Free labor concepts are still debated today; just ask anyone who lives in a Right to Work state!Background Labor union parade, NY., May 1, 1911 (LOC) _ Bain News Servi _ Flickr – no known copyright.jpgSome of modern political and sociological terms did not exist before the nineteenth century, for example the term class. In the 19th century, different ideas about the nature of work and the nobility of work developed. Wage earners, such as those working in factories, were looked down upon because they were not independent, while farmers, artisans, and business-owners were respected and admired. With growing specialization of labor and introduction of technical novelties, new industries and working groups received new names/references.One type of early national organizations to form were worker’s unions. Workers decided that if they could unite, then they could make their voices be heard by business owners. The need for labor laws and worker’s equality started a labor movement. With the rise of unions, there also was a rise in worker’s strikes and even hostility. Government officials were called in to try to keep the peace and subdue angry employees.According to Hunter (1999)(para. 1-4):Historically, government has taken three approaches to labor unions: the criminal conspiracy approach, the free-market (government-neutral) approach, and the compulsory unionism approach.Under the criminal conspiracy approach, the government views labor unions as illegal organizations that conspire to disrupt commerce or harm employers. Membership in a labor union is illegal under this approach, and so are strikes and threats designed to force employers to bestow additional benefits upon their workers. This approach existed in many states for a brief time in American history (roughly between 1806 and 1842).The free-market (or government-neutral) approach requires that the government neither encourage nor discourage the formation of labor unions. Workers who choose to form a union are free to do so. Government does not prohibit union membership or union activity, provided existing laws against fraud, violence, and property damage are not violated. Individual workers may join or not join a union, and union leaders must earn each worker’s voluntary support by providing desired benefits. Under this approach, employers may choose to deal or not deal with the labor union and workers are free to strike regardless of how much it may economically harm their employer. This approach existed in a number of states mostly prior to the 1850s.The third government approach to labor unions is the compulsory unionism approach, where government plays an active role in encouraging labor unions. The government forces employers to recognize labor unions and negotiate with them in a process called “mandatory collective bargaining.” Unions are recognized by law as “exclusive bargaining representatives” who may prohibit individual workers in their bargaining units from negotiating individual working arrangements with their employer, even if they would be better off doing so and their employer is willing. This approach arose out of the Great Depression era of the late 1920s to the mid-1930s.One theory to come out of the mid-19th century was the idea of free labor; that labor, to be good, must be undertaken by the free-will of the laborer. Only when working for their own good and benefit, argued free-labor advocates, could they progress to become land-owning, independent citizens.Three ways that 19th-century class/societal stereotypes evolved into current management and leadership practices:Social Role Stereotypes. The thought that “women take care of things and men take charge” has affected management and leadership practices. Women are seen as care givers and not authoritarians. That mindset has affected corporate American for quite some time, but the idea of the importance of women in managerial positions is ever evolving and becoming more prevalent. Social Role Theory. This theory states that women and men are evaluated differently for positions of leadership. This goes back to society expecting different behaviors from men versus women. Some behaviors were not seen as appropriate for women when it was okay for a man to exhibit these same behaviors. Intercultural Comfort and Discrimination. “Although there have been some remarkable gains in the labor force status of racial minorities, significant disparities remain. African Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites (Hispanics are only marginally so), and the wages of both blacks and Hispanics continue to lag well behind those of whites (authors analysis of Current Population Survey, 2006). A long line of research has examined the degree to which discrimination plays a role in shaping contemporary labor market disparities” (D. Pager, H. Shepherd, 2008). These discrimination tendencies date back to when classes and lines were drawn in the early years of the United States. Current workplaces are still trying to overcome stigmas and discrimination because of race and are working toward total equality in the workplace when it comes to rank and pay. Technology, labor laws, and politics have all played a role in shaping corporate America. Some of these are:We are living in the information and technology age. Technology has shaped corporate America by the use of computers and the internet. We can now order items online and have them shipped right to our doorstep without seeing money exchange hands or even having to leave the house. Labor laws have provided a safer, more efficient, and more equal work environment. “Organized labor has brought tremendous positive change to working Americans. Today, many workers enjoy higher wages, better hours, and safer working conditions. Employers often pay for medical coverage and several weeks vacation” (U.S. History, n.d.). One part of corporate America that seems to have been shaped by politics is the media. This isn’t a new thing though. From the early beginnings of the printing press, there was the publication of the Federalist Papers in the 1780s which helped move the United States into the party press era. The media knew that people wanted information and they also knew that political parties wanted to be portrayed in a positive light. We still see the effects that politics have on the media and vice versa. Quite often all we know of what is going on in the American government is portrayed by the media. Use the following resources to help you:This first source talks about northerners and the Republican party and their idea of free labor. The article discusses how they viewed the people in the south because of their different labor options (namely slavery). (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.The following videos discuss how slavery begins to dominate discussions and issues in politics. It also talks about how this caused problems among leaders because they were trying to find a solution to this enormous debate. Free labor was an idea but it came with limitations and differences from what many were used to.MOOC | The Limits of Free Labor | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.6.4 – (8:50 min)Three notes from the video:In a free society, economic growth supposedly benefits everybody. Oppressive labor conditions aren’t the employer’s problem, they’re a problem to be solved by employees going west. The free labor outlook is for white men of the era, not people of color or women. MOOC | The Limits of Free Labor | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.6.4 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. MOOC | The Limits of Free Labor | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.6.4MOOC | The Free Labor Ideology | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.6.3 – (7:27 min)Three notes from the video:Free labor offers people the opportunity to improve their condition in life, up to independence and becoming a producer. Economic independence is the goal of free labor. Adam Smith argues that a society based on free labor will benefit more economically than one based on slave labor. MOOC | The Free Labor Ideology | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.6.3 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. MOOC | The Free Labor Ideology | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.6.3Slavery | Crash Course US History #13 – (14:24 min)Three notes from the video:Slave states were largely agricutlrual/rural. Urbanization largely took place in the north. Some people, including founding fathers, saw slavery as a “necessary evil.” Slaves often reaffirmed their humanity through family and faith. Slavery – Crash Course US History #13 (14:24 min) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Slavery – Crash Course US History #13Resources Pager, D., Shepherd, H. (2008). The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Hunter, R.P. (1999). Government’s Three Historical Approaches to Labor Unions. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.U.S. History. (n.d.). Organized Labor. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Prompt In a posting of at least 150 words with one properly cited IWG reference (the readings or videos from class are fine), answers the following questions:Consider the idea of free labor in the 19th century. How does this impact northern society and economics? How does it impact the southern society and economics? Do we have a free-labor market? Would you argue for or against free labor today? Why or why not? What benefits and pitfalls come with a free-labor market vs. an un-free labor system? Explain your reasoning. Think about current management practices and state regulations. How does this idea influence management today? What effect does the idea of free labor have in your future industry? For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of management practices and state regulations. You can also find articles from experts that suggest what effects free labor has or would have on the economy.Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.Reply Requirements Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit 1 main post of 150+ words, 1 IWG citation, and reference, as well as 2 follow-up posts of 50+ words. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professionalwrite like it.Click here for info on the Institution Writing Guidelines (IWG) if you have questions.Benchmark_banner.jpgTask Benchmark Examples The files below are PDFs showing A-level work by fellow students. The examples are provided to illustrate the quality of work needed to get an A on this task. Copying from the samples is considered cheating. Use the examples to inform your plan to create your own work. Look at the pieces for writing quality, use of citations, weaving outside sources and the author’s position together, ability to meet the goals of the task, and cohesion.   Share this:TwitterFacebook

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