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Labor

LABOR

LABOR. As the nearly 4 million Americans recorded in the census of 1790 grew to more than 280 million in 2000, the character of their work changed as dramatically as their numbers. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, most Americans were farmers, farm laborers, or unpaid


household workers. Many were bound (as slaves in the southern states, indentured servants elsewhere). Most farmers, craft workers, and shopkeepers were proprietors of family businesses. Most workers were of British origin, though there were large German and African American minorities. Many workers received part or all of their pay in the form of housing, food, and goods. The workday and work year reflected the seasons and the weather as much as economic opportunity or organizational discipline. Two hundred years later, farm labor had become insignificant, employees vastly outnumbered the self-employed, bound labor had disappeared, and child and unpaid household labor had greatly declined. Family and other social ties had become less important in finding work or keeping a job, large private and public organizations employed more than a third of all workers and set standards for most of the others, the labor force had become ethnically diverse, labor productivity and real wages were many times higher, wage contracts and negotiated agreements covering large groups were commonplace, and workplace disputes were subject to a web of laws and regulations.

These contrasts were closely associated with revolutionary changes in economic activity and particularly with the growth of modern manufacturing and service industries. After the middle of the nineteenth century, virtually all new jobs were in these sectors, which were also centers of innovation.

Technology

The changing character of work was closely related to the classic technological innovations of the nineteenth century and the beginning of modern economic growth. Innovations in energy use were particularly influential. Thanks to the availability of numerous waterpower sites in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, industry developed rapidly after the American Revolution. By the 1820s, the massive, water-powered Waltham Mills of northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire were among the largest factories in the world. By midcentury, however, steam power had become widespread in manufacturing as well as transportation, and steam-powered factories became the basis of the industrial economy. In 1880, the Census Bureau announced that non-factory manufacturing had become insignificant. The advent of electrical power at the turn of the century had an even greater impact. It made possible the giant manufacturing operations of the early twentieth century, the smaller, more specialized plants that became the rule after the 1920s, the great versatility in machine use that characterized the second half of the twentieth century, and the mechanization of stores, offices, and homes.

Steam and electrical power and related innovations in machine technology not only made it feasible to create large organizations but gave them an economic advantage over small plants and shops. Workers in the new organizations were wage earners, usually not family members (unlike most nineteenth-century executives), and often they were not even acquainted outside the plant. They rejected payment in kind or in services (company housing and company stores in isolated mining communities became a persistent source of grievances), started and stopped at specific times (the factory bell remained a powerful symbol of the new era), and became accustomed to a variety of rules defining their responsibilities and behavior. Mechanization also led to specialization of function. Factory workers (except for the common laborers, the least skilled and most poorly paid employees) were almost always specialists. Elaborate hierarchies of pay and status grew out of the new ways of work.

The industrial model soon spread to the service sector. Railroad corporations created hierarchical, bureaucratic structures with even stricter lines of authority and more specialized tasks than the largest factories. Insurance companies, department stores, mail-order houses, and large banks followed this pattern, though they typically used only simple, hand-operated machines. The growth of regional and national markets (a result of technological innovations in transportation and communication as well as the expanding economy) made the hierarchical, bureaucratic organization profitable even when power-driven machines played little role in production.

Immigration

Most workers who filled nonexecutive positions in the new organizations were European immigrants or their children. The rapid growth in the demand for labor (confounded by periodic mass unemployment) forced employers to innovate. In the nineteenth century, they often attracted skilled workers from the British Isles or Germany. By the latter decades of the century, however, they hired immigrants mostly to fill low-skill jobs that veteran workers scorned. Although immigration from Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia never ceased, most immigrants increasingly came from the economic and technological backwaters of Europe. By the early twentieth century, more than a million immigrants were arriving each year, the majority from eastern and southern Europe, where most of them had worked as tenant farmers or farm laborers.

An obvious question is why ill-paid American agricultural workers did not respond to the opportunities of industrial and service employment. Several factors apparently were involved. The regional tensions between North and South, where the majority of poor, underemployed agricultural workers were located, and the post–Civil War isolation of the South discouraged movement to industrial centers. Racial prejudice was also influential, though few white southerners moved north before 1915. Lifestyle decisions were also important. In the midwestern states, where industry and agriculture developed in close proximity and where racial distinctions were less important, farm workers were almost as reluctant to take industrial or urban service jobs. (There was, however, significant intergenerational movement, particularly among children who attended high schools and universities.) Consequently a paradox emerged: American farm workers seemed content to eke out a modest living in the country while European agricultural workers filled new jobs in industry and the services.

Mass immigration was socially disruptive. Immigrants faced many hazards and an uncertain welcome. Apart from the Scandinavians, they became highly concentrated in cities and industrial towns. By the early twentieth century, most large American cities were primarily immigrant enclaves. (Milwaukee, perhaps the most extreme case, was 82 percent immigrant and immigrants' children in 1900.) To visitors from rural areas, they were essentially European communities except that instead of a single culture, a hodgepodge of different languages and mores prevailed. It is hardly surprising that observers and analysts bemoaned the effects of immigration and especially the shift from "old," northern and western European, to "new," southern and eastern European, immigrants.

In the workplace, native-immigrant tensions took various forms. The concentration of immigrants in low-skill jobs created a heightened sense of competition—of newer immigrant groups driving out older ones—and led to various efforts to restrict immigrant mobility. These tensions were exacerbated by ethnic concentrations in particular trades and occupations and the perception of discrimination against outsiders. A concrete expression of these divisions was the difficulty that workers and unions had in maintaining solidarity in industrial disputes. The relatively low level of labor organization and the particular character of the American labor movement have often been explained at least in part as the results of a heterogeneous labor force.

The end of traditional immigration during World War I and the low level of immigration during the inter-war years eased many of these tensions and encouraged the rise of "melting pot" interpretations of the immigrant experience. World War I also saw the first substantial movement of southern workers to the North and West, a process that seemed to promise a less tumultuous future. In reality, the initial phases of this movement increased the level of unrest and conflict. Part of the problem—repeated in the early years of World War II—was the excessive concentration of war-related manufacturing in a few congested urban areas. The more serious and persistent irritant was racial conflict, with the poorest of the "new" immigrants pitted against African American migrants. Although the wartime and postwar wave of race riots waned by 1921, the tensions lingered. In most northern cities, African Americans were much more likely to live in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods than were any immigrant groups.

By midcentury, most Americans looked back at immigration as a feature of an earlier age and celebrated the ability of American society to absorb millions of outsiders. Yet at the same time, a new cycle of immigration was beginning. It had the same economic origins and many similar effects, though it differed in other respects. Most of the post–World War II immigrants came from Latin America and Asia rather than Europe. They settled over-whelmingly in the comparatively vacant Southwest and West, areas that had grown rapidly during World War II and continued to expand in the postwar years. In contrast, the Northeast and Midwest, traditional centers of industrial activity, attracted comparatively few immigrants. Most of the newcomers were poorly educated and filled low-skill positions in industry and the services, but there were exceptions. Among the Asian immigrants were many well-educated engineers, technicians, and professionals who quickly rose to important positions, a development that had no nineteenth-century parallel.

Employer Initiatives

Managers of large organizations soon realized that they were dependent on their employees. Turnover, absenteeism, indifferent work, or outright sabotage were significant threats to productivity and profits. Conversely, highly motivated employees could enhance the firm's performance. Traditional tactics such as threats of punishment and discharge were less effective in a factory or store with numerous work sites and a hierarchy of specialized jobs. Uncertain about how to respond, nineteenth-century employers experimented widely. A handful introduced elaborate services; others devised new forms of "driving" and coercion. Most simply threw up their hands, figuratively speaking, and delegated the management of employees to first-line supervisors, who became responsible for hiring, firing, and other personnel functions. As a result, there were wide variations in wages, working conditions, and discipline, even within organizations, as well as abuses of authority and high turnover. Friction between supervisors and wage earners became a common cause of labor unrest.

Remedial action came from two sources. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, state governments began to impose restrictions on employers, especially employers of women and children. By 1900, most northern and western states regulated the hiring of children, hours of labor, health and sanitation, and various working conditions. During the first third of the twentieth century, they tightened regulations, extended some rules to male workers, and introduced workers' compensation, the first American social insurance plans. In the late 1930s, the federal social security system added old-age pensions and unemployment insurance, and other legislation set minimum wages, defined the workday and workweek, and restricted child labor. Still, none of these measures directly addressed a variety of shop-floor problems. To remedy this deficiency, as well as to raise wages, the New Deal also promoted collective bargaining, most notably via the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

Employers also played an important role in this process. Beginning at the turn of the century, a relatively small number of employers, mostly large, profitable corporations, introduced policies designed to discourage turnover and improve morale. Two innovations were particularly important. The first was the creation of personnel departments that centralized and standardized many of the supervisors' personnel functions. By the 1920s, most large industrial and service corporations had personnel departments whose functions and responsibilities expanded rapidly. The second innovation was the introduction of systematic benefit systems that provided medical, educational, recreational, and other services.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the federal and state governments embraced many features of this "welfare capitalism" in the process of creating a modest welfare state. Government initiatives extended some benefit plans to workers at smaller and less generous firms and encouraged the larger employers to create even more elaborate benefit programs. The spread of collective-bargaining contracts and a more prosperous postwar economy reinforced this trend. The years from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s would be the heyday of corporate benevolence.


Labor Unrest

The growth of industrial and service employment also introduced new forms of unrest and protest. The years from the 1870s to the 1940s witnessed waves of strikes, which were widely viewed as a perplexing and troubling feature of modern society. Yet strikes were only the most visible examples of the many tensions and conflicts characteristic of industrial employment. Dissatisfied wage earners had in fact two basic choices, "exit" and "voice." Unhappy workers could quit, or exit, and search for more satisfying jobs, or they could try to improve their current jobs through the use of their collective "voice," that is, through protests, complaints, and negotiations. Historically, most workers have concluded that quitting is easier than trying to create and maintain a union. Still, the history of organized labor (because it has been carefully documented) is the best available valuable measure of the tensions associated with modern employment and the ability of workers to exercise a "voice" in industry.

Nineteenth-Century Unions

The American labor movement dates from the early nineteenth century, first became an important force during the inflationary prosperity of the 1860s, and flourished during the boom years of the 1880s. During those years a pattern appeared that persisted through the twentieth century. The individuals most likely to organize were so-called autonomous workers, those who had substantial independence in the workplace. Most, but not all, were highly skilled and highly paid. They were not oppressed and with notable exceptions were not the employees of the new institutions most closely associated with American industrialization: the large factories, railroads, and bureaucratic offices. Rather they were the men (with very few exceptions) whose skills made them vital to the production process and who could increase their influence through collective action. Their strategic roles also made employers wary of antagonizing them, another critical factor in union growth. Employers typically countered unions with threats and reprisals. Low-skill employees had to take those threats seriously; autonomous workers could resist employer pressures.

Regardless of their particular jobs, workers were more likely to organize successfully in good times and when they could count on sympathetic public officials. Prosperity and a favorable political climate were important determinants of union growth; recession conditions and state repression often made organization impossible, regardless of other factors.

Two groups dominated the nineteenth-century labor movement. Miners were autonomous workers who were not highly skilled or highly paid. But they worked alone or in small groups and faced extraordinary hazards and dangers. Organization was a way to express their sense of solidarity, increase (or maintain) wages, tame the cutthroat competition that characterized their industries (especially coal mining), and restrict the entrance of even less skilled, lower wage workers. Unions flourished in both anthracite and bituminous coal fields in the 1860s and early 1870s, and they emerged in the western "hard rock" industry in the 1870s. After great turmoil and numerous strikes during the prolonged recession of the mid-1870s, miners' organizations became stronger than ever. Their success was reflected in the emergence of two powerful unions, the United Mine Workers of America, formed in 1890, and the Western Federation of Miners, which followed in 1893. They differed in one important respect: the coal miners were committed to collective bargaining with the goal of regional or even national contracts, while the Western Federation of Miners scorned collective bargaining in favor of workplace activism.

The second group consisted of urban artisans, led by construction workers but including skilled industrial workers such as printers and molders. Some of the unions that emerged in the 1820s and 1830s represented workers in handicraft trades, but in later years, organized workers were concentrated in new jobs and industries, though not usually in the largest firms. Organization was a way to maximize opportunities and simultaneously create buffers against excessive competition. Railroad workers were a notable example. Engineers and other skilled operating employees formed powerful unions in the 1860s and 1870s. Through collective bargaining, they were able to obtain high wages, improved working conditions, and greater security. However, they made no effort to organize the vast majority of railroad workers who lacked their advantages. Most railroad managers reluctantly dealt with the skilled groups as long as there was no effort to recruit other employees.

The limitations of this approach inspired efforts to organize other workers, and the notable exception to this approach was the Knights of Labor, which briefly became the largest American union. The Knights attempted to organize workers regardless of skill or occupation, including those who were members of existing unions. Several successful strikes in the mid-1880s created a wave of optimism that the Knights might actually succeed, and membership rose to a peak of more than 700,000 in 1886. But employer counterattacks, together with the Knights' own organizational shortcomings, brought this activity to an abrupt halt. Thereafter, the Knights of Labor declined as rapidly as it had grown. By 1890, it had lost most of its members and was confined to a handful of strongholds.

Twentieth-Century Unions

After the severe depression of the mid-1890s, which undermined all unions, the labor movement enjoyed a long period of expansion and growing influence. Autonomous worker groups, led by coal miners and construction workers, dominated organized labor for the next third of a century. The debate over tactics was decisively resolved in favor of collective bargaining, though a dissenting group, the Industrial Workers of the World, rallied critics with some success before World War I. Collective bargaining was effectively institutionalized during World War I, when the federal government endorsed it as an antidote for wartime unrest. The other major development of this period was the emergence of an effective union federation, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which dated from the upheavals of 1886 but only became influential with the membership revival of the early twentieth century. Under its shrewd and articulate president, Samuel Gompers, the AFL promoted the autonomous worker groups while professing to speak for all industrial workers. Gompers and his allies disavowed socialism and efforts to create an independent political party, policies that led to an erroneous perception (encouraged by their many critics) of indifference or hostility to political action. On the contrary, Gompers closely aligned the AFL with the Democratic Party and created aggressive lobbying organizations in the states and in Washington.

Labor's political activism seemed to pay off during World War I, when Gompers was appointed to a high post in the mobilization effort and the federal government directly and indirectly encouraged organization. The greatest gains occurred in the railroad industry, which was nationalized in 1917. Under government control, railroad managers no longer could oppose organization and collective bargaining. By 1920, most railroad employees were union members. Government efforts to reduce unrest and strikes also resulted in inroads in many manufacturing industries. In 1920, union membership totaled 5 million, twice the prewar level.

These gains proved to be short-lived. The end of wartime regulations, the defeat of the Democrats in the 1920 national elections, new employer offensives, and the severe recession of 1920–1922 eliminated the conditions that had encouraged organization. Membership contracted, particularly in industry. The decline of the coal and railroad industries in the 1920s was an additional blow. By the late 1920s, organized labor was no stronger than it had been before the war. The one positive feature of the postwar period was the rapid growth of service sector unionism.

The dramatic recession that began in 1929 and continued with varying severity for a decade set the stage for the greatest increase in union membership in American history. Recessions and unemployment typically reduced the appeal of any activity that was likely to provoke employer reprisals. This was also true of the 1930s. Union membership declined precipitously between 1930 and 1933, as the economy collapsed and unemployment rose. It also plunged in 1937–1938, when a new recession led to sweeping layoffs. Union growth occurred in 1933– 1937, and in the years after 1939, when employment was increasing. Yet the generally unfavorable economic conditions of the 1930s did have two important indirect effects. Harsh economic conditions produced a strong sense of grievance among veteran workers who lost jobs, savings, and status. Because the depression was widely blamed on big-business leaders and Republican officeholders, it also had a substantial political impact. The 1932 election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had strong progressive and activist credentials as a Democratic politician and especially as governor of New York, proved to be a turning point in the history of the labor movement.

The expansion of union activity after 1933 reflected these factors, particularly in the early years. Roosevelt's New Deal was only intermittently pro-union, but it effectively neutralized employer opposition to worker organization, and with passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 it created a mechanism for peacefully resolving representation conflicts and introducing collective bargaining. Although the ostensible purpose of the legislation was to foster dispute resolution and higher wages, it indirectly promoted union growth by restricting the employer's ability to harass union organizations and members. In the meantime, industrial workers, notably workers in the largest firms such as steel and automobile manufacturing companies, reacted to the new opportunities with unprecedented unity and enthusiasm. The depression


experience and the New Deal appeared to have sparked a new era of militant unionism. An important expression of this change was the emergence of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, a new labor federation created in November 1938 by John L. Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers, and devoted to aggressive organizing, especially in manufacturing.

Although the National Labor Relations Act (and other related legislation designed for specific industries) most clearly and explicitly addressed the industrial relations issues of the 1930s, other New Deal measures complemented it. The move to regulate prices and production in the transportation, communications, and energy industries, which began with the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and continued with a variety of specific measures enacted between 1935 and 1938, created opportunities for unions. Regulated corporations had powerful incentives to avoid strikes and cooperate with unions. As a result, about one-third of union membership growth in the 1930s occurred in those industries. If the United Automobile Workers of America and the United Steel-workers of America were symbols of the new militancy in manufacturing, the equally dramatic growth of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters symbolized the labor upheaval in transportation, communications, and energy.

Government regulations played a more direct role in the equally dramatic union growth that occurred during World War II, when aggregate membership rose from 10 million to 15 million. Most new jobs during the war years were in manufacturing companies that had collective bargaining contracts and in many cases union security provisions that required new hires to join unions. War mobilization thus automatically created millions of additional union members. Government efforts to discourage strikes also emphasized the unions' role in a bureaucratic, intensely regulated economy. By 1945, the labor movement had become a respected part of the American establishment.

Postwar Labor

By the mid-1940s full employment, high wages, and optimism about the future, based on a sense that government now had the ability to manage prosperity (together with awareness of the social safety net that government and business had created since the mid-1930s) replaced the depressed conditions of the 1930s. The experiences of workers in the 1940s and 1950s seemed to confirm the lessons of the New Deal era. With the exception of a few mild recession years, jobs were plentiful, real wages rose, and the federal government continued its activist policies, gradually building on the welfare state foundations of the 1930s. The labor movement also continued to grow, but with less dynamism than in the 1940s. Optimists viewed the merger of the AFL and CIO in 1955, ending the internecine competition that dated from the late 1930s, as a likely stimulus to new gains.

In retrospect, however, those lessons are less compelling. The striking feature of the economy of the 1950s and 1960s was not the affirmation of earlier developments but the degree to which the character of work and the characteristics of the labor force changed. Farming and other natural-resource industries declined at an accelerated rate, and industrial employment also began to decline, but service-industry employment boomed. Formal education became even more important for ambitious workers. Married women entered the labor force in unprecedented numbers. Employers, building on the initiatives of earlier years, extended employee benefit programs, creating a private welfare state that paralleled the more limited public programs. Civil rights laws adopted in the early 1960s banned racial and other forms of discrimination in employment decisions.

One other major development was little noticed at the time. Organized labor stopped growing, partly because it remained too closely wedded to occupations, such as factory work, that were declining, and partly because the employer counterattack that began in the late 1930s at last became effective. A major factor in the union growth of the 1930s and 1940s had been an activist, sympathetic government. Although some postwar employer groups sought to challenge unions directly, others adopted a more subtle and successful approach, attacking union power in the regulatory agencies and the courts and promoting employment policies that reduced the benefits of membership. These attacks gained momentum during the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961). One additional tactic, locating new plants in southern or western states where there was no tradition of organization, also helped to isolate organized workers.

The impact of these varied trends became inescapable in the 1970s, when the economy experienced the most severe downturns since the 1930s. Manufacturing was devastated. Plant closings in traditional industrial areas were common during the recessions of 1973–1975 and 1979–1982. Well-known industrial corporations such as International Harvester collapsed. Unemployment reached levels that rivaled the 1930s. Productivity declined and real wages stagnated. Exploiting anxiety over the future of the economy, Republican Ronald Reagan ran successfully on a platform that attacked the welfare state and industrial relations policies that emphasized collective bargaining.


The experience of the 1970s accelerated the changes that were only dimly evident in earlier years, creating a labor force that was more diverse in composition and overwhelmingly engaged in service occupations. The return of favorable employment conditions in the 1980s was almost entirely a result of service-sector developments. Formal education, antidiscrimination laws, and affirmative action policies opened high-paying jobs to ethnic and racial minorities, including a growing number of immigrants. At the same time, industry continued its movement into rural areas, especially in the South and West, and unions continued to decline. Indeed, according to the 2000 census, only 14 percent of American workers belonged to unions.

The results of these complex developments are difficult to summarize. On the one hand, by the 1990s many workers enjoyed seemingly limitless opportunities and accumulated unprecedented wealth. Severe labor shortages in many industries attracted a flood of immigrants and made the United States a magnet for upwardly mobile workers everywhere. On the other hand, many other workers, especially those who worked in agriculture or industry and had little formal education, found that the combination of economic and technological change, a less activist government, and union decline depressed their wages and made their prospects bleak. At the turn of the century, the labor force and American society were divided in ways that would have seemed impossible only a few decades before.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bernstein, Irving. Turbulent Years: A History of the American Worker, 1933–1941. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970.

Blatz, Perry K. Democratic Miners: Work and Labor Relations in the Anthracite Coal Industry, 1875–1925. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Blewett, Mary H. Men, Women, and Work: Class, Gender, and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780–1910. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

Brody, David. Steelworkers in America: The Nonunion Era. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960. Illini edition, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

———. In Labor's Cause: Main Themes on the History of the American Worker. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Christie, Robert A. Empire in Wood: A History of the Carpenters' Union. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956.

Commons, John R., et al. History of Labour in the United States. 4 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1918–1935.

Dubofsky, Melvyn. We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World. 2d ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

———. The State and Labor in Modern America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Dubofsky, Melvyn, and Warren Van Tine. John L. Lewis: A Biography. New York: Quadrangle, 1977.

Dubofsky, Melvyn, and Warren Van Tine, eds. Labor Leaders in America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.

Fine, Sidney. Sit Down: The General Motors Strike of 1936–37. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.

Gitelman, H. M. Legacy of the Ludlow Massacre: A Chapter in American Industrial Relations. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988.

Gross, James. Broken Promise: The Subversion of U.S. Labor Relations Policy, 1947–1994. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.

Jacoby, Sanford M. Employing Bureaucracy: Managers, Unions, and the Transformation of Work in American Industry, 1900–1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Kochan, Thomas A., et al. The Transformation of American Industrial Relations. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

Lankton, Larry D. Cradle to Grave: Life, Work, and Death at the Lake Superior Copper Mines. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Lichtenstein, Nelson. The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor. New York: Basic Books, 1995.

Lingenfelter, Richard E. The Hardrock Miners: A History of the Mining Labor Movement in the American West, 1863–1893. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

McMurry, Donald L. The Great Burlington Strike of 1888: A Case Study in Labor Relations. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Montgomery, David. Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans, 1862–1872. New York: Knopf, 1967.

———. The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865–1925. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Nelson, Daniel. Managers and Workers: Origins of the Twentieth Century Factory System in the United States, 1880–1920. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

———. Shifting Fortunes: The Rise and Decline of American Labor, from the 1820s to the Present. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997.

Oestreicher, Richard Jules. Solidarity and Fragmentation: Working People and Class Consciousness in Detroit, 1875–1900. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.

Stockton, Frank T. The International Molders Union of North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1921.

Voss, Kim. The Making of American Exceptionalism: The Knights of Labor and Class Formation in the Nineteenth Century. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Wilentz, Sean. Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Zeiger, Robert H. The CIO, 1935–1955. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Daniel Nelson

See alsoAmerican Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations ; Arbitration ; Business Unionism ; Collective Bargaining ; Strikes ; Work .

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Labor

Labor

ANCIENT LABOR TO INDUSTRIALIZATION

LABOR ORGANIZATION

NEW MODES OF PRODUCTION, LABOR SAVINGS, AND GLOBALIZATION

U.S. FEDERAL LABOR LAW

LABOR INSTITUTIONS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Labor is one of the three primary factors of production, next to capital and land. However, different from the other two, labor deals with the work of humans rather than money or the property it can rent or buy. Being part of labor requires thus that one is paid for ones labor services.

The provision of labor was seen by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (18581917) as part of the identification of a worker with society or part of the struggle of the personality with society. The laborer as the member of a classthe working classis also a recurring theme in sociology. Two classical expositions come from the political philosopher Karl Marx (18181883), who offers a historical analysis of class struggle, and the sociologist Max Weber (18641920), who uses class more as a classification of stratification. The reward of wages in the context of labor, especially its share of the entire production process encompassing all factors of production, also mirrors the importance and power of the class within society.

ANCIENT LABOR TO INDUSTRIALIZATION

Ancient labor markets, especially in ancient Greece and Rome, were based on agriculture and manufacturing. Both relied heavily on slave labor, which provided both skilled and unskilled labor.

In medieval times, the common agricultural laborer, or peasant, produced for self-sufficiency, and there was little exchange economy. Labor was dependent on the aristocrats, who were the landowners. The feudal landlords granted protection and the right to use the land in exchange for taxes that included labor services, which is commonly called bondage. This hierarchy from lord to serf was common from higher to lower aristocracy and from aristocrats to peasants. Extortion of both goods and labor services were enforced not only by the aristocracys ownership of the land, but also by their executive and judicial power.

Manufacturing, which was usually strong in the free cities (i.e., those not under the rule of an aristocrat), was in the hands of guilds whose members organized themselves to protect their interests. Workers had to learn a craft by going through the apprenticeship as journeyman, and they depended on their guild master both financially and also professionally as the guild masters decided upon elevation to the master level. While labor was in this sense not free, moving to the free cities to become a craftsman allowed one to free oneself from aristocratic rule.

Factory work forms the core process of industrialization, moving away from small-scale production at home and toward large-scale, specialized production. This specialization process is described with the example of the pin factory by the Scottish economist Adam Smith (17231790):

[I]n the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on, is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactures, are all performed by distinct hands. (Smith 1776, p. 15)

While Smith understood the importance of specialization, in his time the impact of machines was probably still underestimated. Mechanization using the steam engine in the eighteenth century led to a higher productivity of factory work, which is commonly seen as the breakthrough in the process of industrialization.

Smith did provide the intellectual underpinning of the capitalist model in which the pursuit of self-interest under free competition leads to higher wealth for society. His influential work was even used in English courts to prohibit union activities, as the unionization of labor was seen as a hindrance to free competition.

Together, mechanization and specialization led to a certain alienation of the laborer toward the production process. Labor became, next to capital, a true factor of modern production. During the period of industrialization, peasant workers moved away from agricultural work and toward that of unskilled labor in the newly established manufacturing plants. These laborers were no longer dependent on landowners but became wage workers, forming the working class. The process of industrialization was a long one. Exploitation of the workers was the norm rather than the exception as sufficient labor arrived from the ranks of agricultural workers. Edward P. Thompson, in The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century (1971), writes of the formative years from 1780 to 1832 in England. He describes in detail the life and the movements of the English working class of that time. It was through the struggle of the workers that the notion of a working class evolved, which was necessary to develop labor organization.

It took about a century for wage labor to become the norm in the nineteenth century as increasingly more workers were employed, replacing work on the land with work in the newly established factories. The movement from larger workshops to mechanized industries took two centuries, from the late eighteenth century into the early twentieth century. Industrialization commenced in England and was started in continental Europe several decades later, starting with Flanders, France, and later in Germany, Switzerland, and some southern European countries.

LABOR ORGANIZATION

Labor organization commenced in Europe in the eighteenth century, first within an urban setting or within factories, solely to perform the social functions of exchange and insurance against illness. National organization arose in Europe in the late nineteenth century. It was the skilled worker, at a level between owner and unskilled labor, who participated in the organization of labor in unions. Labor organization was not at first a reaction to hardship. In fact, the living standards of workers, unionized or not, were steadily rising throughout Europe from 1850 to 1900.

The history of unions in the United States started in the nineteenth century. In the turbulent decades from 1870 to 1890 the groundwork for organized labor was laid. The National Labor Union (NLU), founded in 1866, was the first federation of unions, followed by the Knights of Labor in 1869. The latter disintegrated after the Haymarket Riot on May 1, 1886, in Chicago in which unions unsuccessfully demanded the eight-hour working day.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL), founded in 1886, organized mainly skilled workers, while the more radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), founded in 1905, provided a federation for unskilled labor. The membership in the IWW declined with the Palmer Raids (19181921), named for Alexander Mitchell Palmer, the U.S. attorney general after World War I who led the government attack on the radical left during the Red Scare period.

Unions in the United States did not become a political factor in those years. This has been attributed to several reasons: The U.S. political system was fragmented between states and the federal level, and it discouraged worker movements. Furthermore, employers associations reacted very strongly against the labor organizations. Janet Currie and Joseph Ferrie argue in the Journal of Economic History (2000) that despite some legislative changes in favor of the laborer, unions refrained from a national political influence and instead sought to negotiate on a company level.

This changed after the Great Depression and especially under the New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The labor movement was strengthened, and the government found its role in brokering agreements between businesses and labor unions. The governments aims were to provide some assistance to poor and unemployed workers and to establish the rights of labor unions, which culminated in the Wagner Act.

During the 1930s, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) organized industrial workers who were part of the emerging large-scale corporations. This represented a movement from crafts-based unionism toward industry unions. The CIO argued that crafts-based unionism was no longer suitable to many industries in which several crafts were undertaken, thus artificially dividing the unionized workers within a firm. One union organized within the CIO was the United Auto Workers (UAW). The CIO split off from the AFL to form its own entity in 1938. After World War II (19391945), as most differences were settled, the two combined into the AFLCIO, under which most unions are aligned.

NEW MODES OF PRODUCTION, LABOR SAVINGS, AND GLOBALIZATION

The 1960s marked the beginning of steady decline in union membership. After the economically strong years following World War II, workers faced increasingly more plant shutdowns. During the 1970s the fear of mechanization and the displacement of men by machines was a recurring theme. In the 1980s cheaper foreign labor began replacing domestic labor. This was most explicit within the automobile industry, in which European and especially Japanese manufacturers provided fierce competition against the American car manufacturers. Under this pressure, union power eroded over time. The fear of globalization was amplified during the negotiations about the North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened up the markets of Mexico, Canada, and the United States in 1994. The opponents feared U.S. workplaces being moved to Mexico, with cheaper labor and lower working standards. In consecutive years, intensifying trade and the outsourcing of labor-intensive industries, especially to Asian countries, weakened the union even more.

This increasing globalization was anticipated in Robert Reichs book The Work of Nations (1991). His main theme is that the division of workers into skilled and unskilled occupations is extended to a threefold partition into routine producers, in-person service providers (services that have to be provided person to person), and knowledge workers. The last type is rather broad as it includes some people who are usually not considered part of labor, such as entrepreneurs. It is this last type of worker for whom Reich foresees the best prospects, while the routine producers in particular will be replaced either by foreign competition or machines. The in-person service workers are somewhat protected from foreign competition as they require the physical availability of labor.

While the traditional struggle between the capitalist class (the providers of capital) and the labor class seems outdated, Stanley Aronowitz argues in How Class Works (2003) that labor still struggles over institutional arrangements such as working hours, overtime pay, and working conditions. These social movements are in essence class struggles over the division of power between capital and labor. In the United States capital is still the decisive element, argues Aronowitz, as the workers did not unite the aims of the different groups (immigrants versus native, black versus white, male versus female), but Aronowitz argues labor should still strive to unite as a force in order to strongly support its common goals.

U.S. FEDERAL LABOR LAW

Labor law reflects the struggle and achievement of labor in a nation. In the United States, the following legal developments show the evolution of current laws. While not intended to forbid the labor unions, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was used for many years to hinder union work. Its unspecific nature prohibiting combinations in restraint of trade allowed its use against combined, unionized demands from workers. The Clayton Antitrust Act, Section 6 (1914), remedies this shortcoming as it explicitly exempts labor unions. The National Labor Relations Act, or the Wagner Act (1935), allowed union representation and established the National Labor Relations Board. It allowed for collective bargaining and strikes to enforce demands. However, the Wagner Act does not encompass all workers; agricultural workers, for example, are excluded.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) enacts minimum wages and overtime pay, and it abolishes oppressive child labor. While it originally included many exemptions, over time several of those have been eliminated so the act covers all blue-collar workers while excluding supervisory functions.

During World War II, the Fair Employment Act (1941) was introduced, prohibiting racial discrimination. Initially it was intended only for the national defense industry, but it was later extended to encompass all labor relations and to prohibit many forms of discrimination in the workplace.

The Taft-Hartley Act (1947), or Labor-Management Relations Act, and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (1959) amended the National Labor Relations Act to restrict union power. The acts prohibit unfair labor practices by unions, which were previously only prohibited for employers. Unions were no longer allowed to influence the employers in their allocation of work to different plants. Secondary boycottsfor example, the refusal to handle the goods of non-unionized companieswere also prohibited. Closed-shop agree-mentsthat only union labor could be hired by employerswere also outlawed.

LABOR INSTITUTIONS

The International Labor Organization (ILO) was created in 1919. There were several reasons for the establishment of such an organization. Its primary concern, a humanitarian one, was for the welfare of the worker. Numerous workers in many different countries had to work under exploitative circumstances, threatening their life, health, and family life. A second purpose was to integrate the growing working class into the political process and thereby to avoid social unrest or revolutions that could impede international peace. This aim is also found in the constitution of the ILO, as peace can only be achieved along with social justice. An economic motivation for the establishment of the ILO was concern over the cost of upholding humanitarian working standards. It was generally agreed that international standards for working conditions would avoid a race to the bottomthat is, a competition among nations over low labor costs, to the detriment of the workers. The organization of the ILO is tripartite. Each member country has two representatives of the government, one of the employers associations, and one of the labor unions.

In 1926 the ILO introduced a supervisory system to control the implementation and enforcement of its standards. This was an important step toward a more functional organization that went beyond discussing pressing issues. The United States, which was involved in several aspects of the founding and establishment of the ILO, became a member in 1934. One of the main steps forward was the Declaration of Philadelphia, adopted in 1944, which introduced freedom of association for workers. In 1969, the ILO was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The U.S. Department of Labor is the governmental organization responsible for labor in relation to occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, reemployment services, and labor statistics. On the national level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal organization within the United States to provide statistical information and research for the government. While it is part of the Department of Labor, it serves as an independent statistical agency and provides labor market statistics as well as occupational forecasts. Other countries have organizations that have similar goals, albeit often less extensive ones.

SEE ALSO Agricultural Industry; Capitalism; Class Conflict; Division of Labor; Factories; Factory System; Industrialization; Industry; Labor Force Participation; Labor Market; Labor Supply; Labor Union; Management; Productivity; Smith, Adam; Thompson, Edward P.; Unions; Work; Work Day; Work Week

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aronowitz, Stanley. 2003. How Class Works: Power and Social Movement. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Berger, Stefan, and David Broughton, eds. 1995. The Force of Labour: The Western European Labour Movement and the Working Class in the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Commons, John R., David J. Saposs, Helen L. Sumner, et al. 19181936. History of Labour in the United States. New York: Macmillan.

Currie, Janet, and Joseph P. Ferrie. 2000. The Law and Labor Strife in the U.S., 18811894. Journal of Economic History 60: 4266.

Durkheim, Émile. 1984. The Division of Labor in Society. Trans. W. D. Halls. New York: Free Press.

Geary, Dick. 1981. European Labour Protest, 18481939. New York: St. Martins Press.

Henderson, W. O. 1954. Britain and Industrial Europe, 17501870: Studies in British Influence on the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe. Liverpool, U.K.: Liverpool University Press.

Marx, Karl. [18671894] 1971. Das Kapital. Vols. 13. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Reich, Robert B. 1991. The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st-Century Capitalism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Smith, Adam. [1776] 1904. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 5th ed. London: Methuen and Co.

Thompson, Edward P. 1971. The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century. Past and Present 50 (1): 76136.

Weber, Max. [1922] 1978. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ben Kriechel

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Labor

LABOR

Labor commonly refers to the work people do in the employ of others. In its history, labor in Russia has taken a wide variety of forms, from slavery to labor freely exchanged for wages, and the full gamut of possibilities between those extremes. The fates of both peasants and workers have been tightly bound together through most of Russian history.

from kiev through peter i

While slavery was common through the reign of Peter I, perhaps accounting for 10 percent of the population around 1600, it was never the dominant factor in the economy. In Kievan Rus, labor was generally free in both the vibrant cities and the countryside. Although information is scarce, manufacturing throughout the Kievan and Muscovite periods seems to have been generally on a small-scale, artisanal basis; for a variety of reasons a European-style guild system never developed. The free-hire basis of labor only began to become seriously restricted with the centralization of the Muscovite state. The slow but steady imposition of serfdom on peasants was matched by a similar reduction in the urban population's mobility. Both peasants and city dwellers were permanently tied to their locations by the Law Code of 1649. Constraints on movement became even more severe when Peter I instituted the poll tax as a communal obligation, firmly binding all nonnobles to their communal organization, whether rural or urban.

Before 1700, urban manufacture was artisanal, carried out in very small enterprises, which makes it difficult to speak of an urban working class. Large-scale manufacturing began in the countryside, close to natural resources, either on noble-owned land, with nobles utilizing their own peasants, or on land granted by the government for specifically industrial purposes. In the latter case, although labor was hired at times, the work force was more usually peasants who had been assigned either temporarily or permanently to that particular enterprise. The binding of the entire population to specific locations after 1649 made freely hirable labor difficult to find. This problem was exacerbated after Peter the Great began large-scale industrialization, most notably in the Urals metallurgical complex.

from peter to the great reforms

During the course of the 1700s, however, the role of hired labor became more important, as the increasing importance of money in the economy made industrial labor an attractive option for both cash-starved serf owners and peasant households. This was true especially in northern Russia, where the soil was less fertile, the growing season shorter, and agriculture less viable. These regions would also experience a new kind of industrial growth, as peasant entrepreneurs, under the protection of financially interested owners, slowly exploited local craft traditions and began to build industries using hired labor. The two Sheremetev-owned villages of Ivanovo and Pavlovo are examples of this trend, becoming major textile and metalworking centers, respectively.

The first decades of the nineteenth century witnessed an increased acceleration in the factory and mining workforce, from 224,882 in 1804 to 860,000 in 1860. Although less than 10 percent of workers in 1770 were hired as opposed to assigned, by 1860 well over half were hired. Not all of this labor was free, however, since it included hiring contracts forced upon peasants by serf owners or even village communes. In addition, hired labor was concentrated in the greatest growth industry of the period, textiles, especially in the central provinces of Moscow and Vladimir. Forced labor still comprised the great majority of the metallurgical and mining work forces on the eve of the Great Reforms.

peasant or proletarian?

Although peasants remained tied to their commune as a result of the emancipation of the serfs, this hindered the labor market as little as serfdom had. By 1900, 1.9 million Russians worked in factories and mines; by 1917, 3.6 million did so. In addition, the total number of those earning any kind of wage, either full or part time, increased from 4 million to 20 million between 1860 and 1917. The bulk of this increase in the factory and mining work force came from the peasantry. For a century, historians have debated whether the Russian industrial worker was more a peasant or a proletarian, an argument rendered more acute by the coming to power in 1917 of a regime claiming to rule in the name of the proletariat. This argument has never been satisfactorily resolved. Most industrial peasants remained juridical peasants, with financial obligations to the village commune. More than that, they usually identified themselves as peasants. A few historians have claimed that with an unceasing influx of peasants into the work force, the Russian working class was simply the part of the peasantry who worked in factories, and some see the Bolshevik Revolution as the successful manipulation by intellectuals of naïve peasant-workers. Others, on the other hand, have carefully traced the development of a hereditary work force, as the children of migrants themselves went to work in the factories, lost their ties to the countryside, and came to identify themselves not as peasants, but as workers. The archetype of this is the iconic St. Petersburg skilled metalworker, a second or third-generation worker, literate, born and raised in the city, with a sophisticated understanding of political matters and consciously supporting a socialist path in the recasting of Russian society. The truth is certainly somewhere between these poles, but there is no consensus on where. Certainly through the 1930s most of the industrial workforce consisted of first-generation workers. However, on the eve of the revolution, possibly a third of workers were hereditary.

What it meant to be a hereditary worker is not clear. Many workers grew up in the countryside, worked in a factory for several years, then returned to the village to take over the family plot. Their children grew up in the village, might themselves die in the village, would work in factories for a decade or so, and could thus be considered both peasants and hereditary workers. In addition, well over half of Russia's factory workers labored in mills located in the countryside. Thus, although they worked in a factory, they were still in and of the village.

labor in revolutionary russia

Regardless of whether they were peasant or proletarian, there was a continually increasing quantity of factory workers, who constituted growing proportions of the two rapidly expanding capitals, St. Petersburg and Moscow, where workers would play a political role beyond their numerical weight in the general population. Throughout the imperial period, working conditions were horrible, with seventy-hour work-weeks and little concern for worker health.

Although strikes remained illegal through most of the imperial period, they are recorded as early as the 1600s. However, the size of the industrial sector was not large enough to produce strikes of major concern to the state until the 1880s, with larger strike waves occurring in the mid-1890s and

the first years of the twentieth century. Socialist activists began large-scale efforts to organize the industrial labor force in the 1890s, and many historians have seen the steady fall in violence and increase in political demands during strikes as the result of politically motivated organizers. Whether workers were more led by the political parties, or rather utilized the parties' organizational capabilities for their own ends, remains a debatable issue.

Independent labor unions have never played a large role in Russia, in part because they were illegal until 1905. The state attempted to organize some unions before 1905 to counteract the influence of the socialists. This backfired in January 1905, when one of these officially sanctioned worker organizations led protests that were repressed by the state in the massacre known as Bloody Sunday. During the subsequent year of revolution, workers played a visible role. Their participation in a general strike in the fall led directly to the October Manifesto. In 1917, industrial workers, especially in Petrograd, help set the tone for the revolution. This was especially apparent in their support of the soviets as an institution and, eventually for the Bolsheviks, who not only advocated soviet power, but also spoke out for the workers' favorite parochial concern: worker control of the factories.

the soviet period and beyond

During the Civil War, however, working class influence weakened significantly. The regime banned strikes, and natural worker leaders were co-opted into the party and state bureaucracies and the military. Furthermore, economic collapse caused most workers with peasant ties to flee the starving cities. General strikes in Moscow and Petrograd in early 1921 helped usher in the New Economic Policy (NEP), although the NEP would produce its own labor discontent. Workers resented that prewar technical elites retained supervisory roles and the state's attempts to increase worker productivity. There was chronic underemployment and peasant competition for jobs.

This discontent provided much popular support for the radical measures of the First Five-Year Plan, which in turn brought millions more peasants into new factories. The chaos of the early 1930s led to the imposition of very strict labor laws, removing strikes as a viable weapon for labor until the late 1980s. The stabilization of the planned economy produced the first unmistakably hereditary working class in Russian history, as migration from the countryside slowed significantly and educational policies restricted social mobility. This was also a very docile period in labor relations, with very few strikes or viable protests. One major wave of labor discontent did occur from 1962 to 1964, which helped bring down Nikita Khrushchev when he tried to attack the status quo with price hikes and demands for increased productivity. Workers were guaranteed a job, were rarely fired, and were seldom threatened with demands for greater productivity, while being granted a lifestyle that could be considered comfortable by historical standards. As a popular epigram expressed it, "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us." This situation changed in the Mikhail Gorbachev era. The massive dislocations that accompanied the shift from a planned to free market economy at first produced massive strikes, followed by sullen quiescence, as those who still had jobs did not feel secure enough to strike. Labor discontent in the 1990s manifested itself primarily in a steady sizable vote for the Communist Party. Political and economic stability in the early twenty-first century led to normalization of labor markets and more consistent payment of wages than after the shock therapy of the early 1990s.

See also: five-year plans; new economic policy; peasantry; serfdom; slavery

bibliography

Chase, William J. (1987). Workers, Society, and the Soviet State: Labor and Life in Moscow, 19181929. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Ekonomakis, Evel G. (1998). From Peasant to Petersburger. London: Macmillan Press Ltd.

Filtzer, Donald. (1992). Soviet Workers and De-Stalinization: The Consolidation of the Modern System of Soviet Production Relations, 19531964. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Haimson, Leopold. (19641965). "The Problem of Social Stability in Urban Russia, 19051914." Slavic Review 23:619642, 24:122.

Johnson, Robert Eugene. (1979). Peasant and Proletarian: The Working Class of Moscow in the Late Nineteenth Century. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Kuromiya, Hiroaki. (1988). Stalin's Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers, 19281932. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McDaniel, Tim. (1988). Autocracy, Capitalism, and Revolution in Russia. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Zelnik, Reginald E. (1968). "The Peasant and the Factory." In The Peasant in Nineteenth-Century Russia, ed. Wayne S. Vucinich. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Zelnik, Reginald E. (1971). Labor and Society in Tsarist Russia. The Factory Workers of St. Petersburg, 18551870. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

David Pretty

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Labor

Labor

Sources

Keen Observation. In 1657 one traveler in the New World wrote, The lland is divided into three sorts of men; Masters, Servants, and slaves. The slaves and their posterity, being subject to their Masters for ever, are kept and preservd with greater care then the servants, who are theirs but for five years, according to the law of the Hand.

Indentured Labor. An indenture contract obligated an immigrant to an agreed term of labor, usually for a period of four to seven years, in return for payment for passage across the Atlantic. Indentured servants received shelter, food, clothing, and a Sunday free of hard labor. Upon completion of the contract, bound servants typically received a suit of clothing or dress with some additional assets. An asset might have been land in seventeenth-century Chesapeake or South Carolina. Often the freedom dues were distinguished by gender. A man would receive a horse, a gun, or tools, and a woman would receive a cow or spinning wheel. The high mortality rate in the Chesapeake meant that approximately 40 percent of the indentured servants died before they could reap the final benefits of their contract. Rural Pennsylvania farmers and Chesapeake planters relied the most on indentured labor to plant and harvest their crops. Three-quarters of the English migrants to the Chesapeake arrived as bound labor. It is estimated that one-half to two-thirds of the Europeans who traveled to British America were committed to some form of labor contract for their transatlantic passage. As many as fifty thousand convicts served out sentences of seven to fourteen years as indentured servants. Those servants who did not work on farms worked for bakers, blacksmiths, bricklayers, butchers, chairmakers, coopers, masons, plasterers, potters, tailors, weavers, or wheelwrights. In the seventeenth century indentured servants could capitalize on economic opportunities and advance in an upwardly mobile society. But the road to that success was not easy. Abusive conditions and harsh punishments plagued the lives of many servants. Contracts could be sold, obligating the servant to a different master for the rest of the term. A master could extend the contract if a servant ran away or became pregnant. By the eighteenth century opportunities for social and economic advancement decreased. As the urgency to escape England declined, so too did the willingness of people to commit

themselves to long contracts. Pennsylvania farmers turned to day laborers, and Chesapeake planters shifted to African slaves.

Ready to Work. Redemptioners were similar to indentured servants in that they agreed to work for a specific period in return for transatlantic passage. The difference was that they arranged a contract once they arrived in the British colonies rather than agreeing to terms for labor in England or Europe before beginning the trip. These bound laborers could not leave the ships until they found a colonist willing to pay for their voyage in return for labor. Whereas the indentured servants tended to be unmarried men and women from England, redemptioners were usually families from Germany. In some cases an entire family would commit to a labor contract. In other cases parents would obligate a child or children to a contract that would pay for the familys passage. These terms also were for from four to seven years.

Wage Labor. Wage laborers comprised the smallest group of workers in British America. In the seventeenth century they tended to be young men and women who were not yet married. Some wage laborers were former indentured servants who had completed a contract but were not yet self-sufficient. They were rare in the countryside because wages were high and land was cheap, so it did not take long to convert wages to land. Also, rural farmers tended to rely on family labor rather than pay wages to day laborers. As land became more scarce in the eighteenth century, the number of wage laborers in rural America increased. Such free, hired laborers were more common in urban centers, where the demand was higher and where more money was required to establish oneself.

For these workers wage labor was likely a lifelong condition. In 1762 a laborer would have needed fifty pounds a year for food, rent, fuel, and clothing for his family. That amount did not cover the additional expenses of soap, candles, taxes, or medical expenses. Even if he worked six days a week all year, which was unlikely due to seasonal demands and business cycles, a wage laborer could hope to bring home an annual wage of only sixty pounds. With the additional wages of a wife, who probably earned half of what he did, the wage earner faced an endless reality of bare subsistence. Injury or pregnancy could doom the family to dependence on the community.

Slaves. By 1750 slaves lived in all thirteen colonies, but their numbers were greatest in the Southern colonies where substantial staple exports required a large labor force. Slaves first arrived in Virginia in 1619 when a Dutch trader exchanged twenty slaves for provisions. Because slaves were wore expensive than indentured servants and bound labor was readily abundant, Chesapeake planters preferred short-term contracts with English servants. The transition to enslaved labor occurred in the Chesapeake at the beginning of the eighteenth century for a variety of reasons. Africans were less affected by the virulent diseases that killed whites. Living longer and better able to withstand the climate, Africans became a more profitable investment for white planters. The fact that the purchase price could mean a lifetime of servitude without the required freedom dues further influenced planters to develop a labor system based on enslaved labor. As the prices of the two groups of workers converged, planters recognized the profitability of shifting to enslaved labor. In 1670 a slave cost three times as much as an indentured servant. Twenty years later slaves were less than twice as expensive and were purchased for a lifetime rather than seven years. By 1660 the decreased availability of indentured servants increased the demand for enslaved Africans. By 1690 slaves outnumbered indentured servants in the Chesapeake. Slaves accompanied the first Barbadian settlers to South Carolina in 1670. The West Indians promoted the benefits of enslaved labor for the production of staple crops. Once rice was determined to be a profitable staple crop, the demand for enslaved Africans increased dramatically. By 1703 a majority of the labor force in South Carolina consisted of slaves. Enslaved blacks and Indians made up 47 percent of the entire population of South Carolina. Slaves in the Southern colonies typically worked in the fields although some worked as domestics or artisans. Subsistence agriculture in Northern colonies depended on family labor, so the need for large-scale enslaved labor never developed. Slaves in the Northern colonies more frequently worked as domestic servants and craft workers and less often on farms.

Frenchmen and Spaniards. West and north of British America, French and Spanish laborers pursued other endeavors. Because of their need to protect their empire and their intention to spread Catholicism, Spaniards split into two groups: military and religious. Ranging through the southwest to the western coast of North America, soldiers and officers built forts while priests and monks spread theology. Their interaction with the native inhabitants included organizing them into labor forces and imposing Catholicism. The French, who explored the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, were as intent on spreading Catholicism but less preoccupied with military security. Jesuit missionaries traveled the same routes as coureurs de bois who found prosperity in fur trapping. French interaction with native inhabitants was based on commercial interests. Missionaries offered Catholicism as a complement to traditional religions rather than a replacement.

A SHREWD WIDOW

From 1703 to 1727 Mrs. Elizabeth Buretel, a French Huguenot widow from Charleston, South Carolina, lent money to 110 South Carolina settlers for the purchase of land and slaves. Because there were no banks, people who needed to borrow money turned to neighbors in the community who had capital to invest. Mrs. Buretel was inclined to lend money to other French immigrants in the South Carolina Low Country. Most of the bonds had terms of one year. Like other investors Mrs. Buretel let people leave their loans out longer if they agreed to pay her annual interest. Almost two-thirds of the bonds she held in 1727 were older than five years. It appears that she developed a strategy to ensure a form of annuities over a twenty-year period. Her investments increased in number over the years, which suggests her growing confidence and ability as a capital investor. Elizabeth Buretel was not the only woman to participate in the capital market of South Carolina, but it seems she was the most active female investor at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In a society where women had limited options to earn money, investments were a welcome source of income.

Source: Nancy Woloch, Women and the American Experience, second edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994).

Sources

David Galenson, White Servitude in Colonial American: An Economic Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981);

Carol Groneman and Mary Beth Norton, eds., To Toil the Livelong Day: Americas Women at Work, 17801980 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987);

Stephen Innes, ed., Work and Labor in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988);

Alice Kessler-Harris, Women Have Always Worked: A Historical Overview (Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1981);

Sung Bok Kim, Landlord and Tenant in Colonial New York: Manorial Society, 16641775 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978);

Peter Kolchin, American Slavery, 16191877 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1995).

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labour

labour Birth is a remarkable and explosive event that occurs usually between 35 and 39 weeks after conception (37–41 after the mother's last menstrual period). It is typified by painful contractions of the uterus (womb), progressive dilation of the cervix (the lowermost part of the uterus), and descent of the presenting part of the baby through the mother's birth canal (uterus and vagina). There are three stages of labour. The first lasts until full dilation of the cervix, the second until birth of the baby, and the third ends with delivery of the placenta.

The processes that initiate normal physiological labour in humans are poorly understood. The sheep has provided the most useful experimental animal model for the study of the fetus and has provided many important insights into human pregnancy. In the sheep, labour is initiated by the fetus, which starts the process by producing a surge of corticosteroid hormones from its adrenal glands. This results in a change in the balance of steroid sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) in the ewe which, in turn, encourages the production of prostaglandins in the membranes attached to the placenta. Prostaglandins (so called because they were first discovered in prostate glands in men) stimulate contractions of the uterus, thus initiating labour. It is an attractive concept that the baby should orchestrate the timing of labour and birth when it has reached sufficient maturity to be ready for life outside the uterus. The process is not, however, so clear-cut in humans, although prostaglandins do seem to be important. In many women, changes take place over days or weeks before labour proper starts, including some opening of the cervix and increasing Braxton Hicks contractions (non-painful, non-regular ‘hardening’ of the uterus), which are named after the nineteenth-century London obstetrician who first described them.

The first sign of labour is usually that uterine contractions become increasingly painful or frequent, although labour may sometimes start with rupture of the placental membranes and release of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby throughout pregnancy. In later labour, the contractions occur every two or three minutes. With each contraction, the blood supply to the placenta is cut off, stopping the supply of oxygen to the baby. Well-grown babies have more than sufficient reserves to deal with this potential stress, but poorly-grown babies with low metabolic reserves may become rapidly and seriously distressed. It is, therefore, important to monitor the heart rate of the baby during labour to check for distress. This may be done by listening through the fetal stethoscope (named after the French obstetrician, Adolphe Pinard), or by electronic methods — although the simplest and oldest method was to place the ear directly on the abdomen.

As the contractions pull against the cervix, already softened by the effect of prostaglandins, it dilates. Once it is completely open, the presenting part of the baby is propelled downwards by the contractions, deeper into the mother's pelvis. In 96% of babies at term (after 37 weeks), the presenting part is the head; in 3% it is the rump (breech). As the head reaches the funnel-shaped muscles of her pelvic floor, the mother feels an urge to push, and her efforts add to the impact of the contractions. The head rotates and emerges through the lower end of the vagina, to be followed by the rest of the baby.

Sometimes it proves necessary to deliver the baby by Caesarean section during labour, notably because of signs of distress in the baby or a failure to make progress — either because the baby's head is too large for the mother's pelvis, or because the uterine contractions prove inadequate. When such problems occur during the second stage of labour, birth can be hastened by application of obstetric forceps or the vacuum extractor. Forceps were first constructed and used by the Chamberlens, a Huguenot family who fled to England during the sixteenth century. By discreet use of the instruments under sheets they kept their secret hidden for decades. The first practical vacuum extractor was made by the nineteenth-century Scottish obstetrician, James Young Simpson; further refinements occurred during the twentieth century.

Simpson's other contribution to the care of women in labour was of still greater significance. At a famous dinner party in Edinburgh in 1847 he proved to himself (and to his accommodating guests) the pain-relieving power of chloroform. His advocacy of chloroform as an analgesic during labour met vigorous opposition, backed by citation of the Bible, for God had reportedly said to Eve, after she ate the forbidden fruit:
I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children (Genesis 2: 16).Public opinion in Britain was changed by Queen Victoria's use of chloroform during one of her many labours; the acceptance of pain-relieving measures as legitimate was thereby ensured. Labour is a painful experience for most women and options that are available nowadays include opiate drugs, inhalation of nitrous oxide gas, transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS), and epidural anaesthesia. A hot bath helps with many types of pain and has become popular during labour; indeed some women now like to give birth in water. However, access to any such facilities is denied to very many women world-wide, many of whom do not have the availability of even very basic clinical care. The consequences are dramatically and tragically illustrated in the developing world where, in rural areas far from clinical facilities, women may labour for days. In these communities, adolescent girls are especially at risk of obstructed labour because the pelvis is both incompletely grown and also often stunted because of chronic undernutrition. Prolonged obstructed labour typically results in death of the baby, and often in death of the mother from infection or, if she survives, in vesico–vaginal fistula — a channel between bladder and vagina that causes chronic incontinence of urine, social ostracism, and great misery. The ability to transform the lives of these young women by successful surgery has been demonstrated by the famous fistula hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, prevention is, as always, better than cure, and the ‘partogram’, a graphical representation of the progress of labour developed by Professor Hugh Philpott in Zimbabwe, gives early warning of obstructed labour and is now widely used throughout the world. Women who have had babies previously suffer a different consequence of neglected obstructed labour: rupture of the uterus, with severe internal haemorrhage and high risk of death.

The challenge for obstetricians and midwives providing care for women in labour in more affluent settings is to ensure safety for mother and baby whilst avoiding meddlesome and unnecessary clinical interventions and allowing the women free choice of possible options which would include, for example, her favoured position at birth, or delivery at home. High rates of Caesarean section, induction of labour, and continuous electronic fetal heart monitoring suggest, to some, that the balance is not yet right.

Jim Neilson


See also birth; development and growth: infancy; pregnancy.

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Labor

Labor

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Big Labor? As businesses expanded and Consolidated to secure advantages in the marketplace, workers tried to organize, and often succeeded, to exert leverage in the labor market. Changes in the workplace set imposing challenges for workers, who found themselves contending with increasingly large, concentrated, and distant employers. Periodic economic downturns also cut deeply into efforts to organize, as workers competed to survive. However, workers did organize and did take on management in often bitter efforts to secure or retain decent working conditions amid the dizzying process of industrial transformation.

Knights of Labor. The first organization to attempt to unite workers of all industries and occupations, the Knights of Labor grew from small beginnings: when it

was founded in 1869 it was envisioned as a secret organization, something like a labor equivalent to freemasonry. It eventually shed its trappings of secrecy, and under the leadership of Terence V. Powderly, who was named Grand Master Workman in 1883, the Knights rapidly grew to become a major force in American business. The movement opened its ranks to skilled and unskilled workers alike, transcending earlier, single-craft-oriented trade unions. In addition it accepted women and African Americans, although the latter had to join segregated assemblies. Powderly set lofty goals for the Knights, envisioning ultimately the abolition of the wage system and its replacement with more-cooperative business structures. However, the Knights more immediate goals reflected a concrete labor agenda: an eight-hour workday, the prohibition of child labor, and the improvement of workplace safety and conditions.

Triumph and Setbacks. After the Knights successfully organized a strike against one of Jay Goulds railroads in 1885, membership soared to more than seven hundred thousand by 1886, nearly 10 percent of the total industrial workforce, organized in some fifteen thousand local assemblies. However, momentum began to slip when a subsequent railroad strike collapsed the next year. Meanwhile, the Knights threw themselves into a national campaign to institute an eight-hour workday, calling for a mass strike on 1 May 1886. More than three hundred thousand workers participated in the Great Upheaval. Nonetheless the Knights lost a good deal of public support in the aftermath of these strikes, especially in the wake of events in Chicago, where the May Day strike led to a bombing in Haymarket Square in which seven policemen were killed. The citys civic leaders decried the radical ideas they detected at the root of the violence, tainting principles such as Powderlys critique of wage labor. Still, the Knights biggest obstacle probably came from within the ranks, as skilled workers, disillusioned with the idea of joining forces with unskilled workers, peeled off to form craft unions. Membership dropped to one hundred thousand in 1890 and continued to fall off in the ensuing years. However, many of the goals of the Knights became central principles of other labor organizations that took up the struggle for better wages and working conditions.

American Federation of Labor. Meanwhile, efforts were under way to organize skilled labor within craft unions sustained by a national umbrella alliance. In 1881 a group of trade unionists convened to lay the foundation for a national federation of labor leaders. While the influence of the Knights of Labor remained strong, the federation languished, but in 1886, as the Knights fortunes began to ebb, a second effort

established the American Federation of Labor (AFL) at a convention held in Columbus, Ohio. Samuel Gompers of the Cigar Makers Union became the federations first president and held the office almost continuously up to his death in 1924. Unlike the Knights, the AFL was rooted in the craft union movement, and participating local unions retained complete autonomy. The federation thus gathered skilled workers, but not unskilled or semiskilled laborers. And unlike the Knights of Labor or the twentieth-century Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), the AFL eschewed radical or socialist politics, concentrating on improving labor conditions in individual crafts through union organization and contract negotiations.

Federation Fortunes. Like the Knights, the federation met with both setbacks and advances in its first few decades. AFL growth, which depended on the growth of participating trade unions, remained fitful into the late 1890s. Sporadic early victories on the issue of the eight-hour day were offset by more prominent setbacks in the Homestead Strike of 1892 and the Pullman Strike two years later. As of 1898 fewer than three hundred thousand workers were affiliated. However, after the 1893-1897 depression membership began to rise more rapidly. By the early twentieth century the federation had securely established itself as a national power.

Source

Joshua Freeman and others, Who Built America? Working People and the Nations Economy, Politics, Culture and Society, 2 volumes (New-York: Pantheon, 1989-1992).

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Labor

Labor

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Economic Regulation. English society was heavily regulated by law. While the colonies created much simpler legal systems than had existed in the mother country, they brought with them expansive English notions about what could and should be regulated by law, such as prices and labor. In early America price-gouging was punishable by the courts; if a jury decided that an artisans prices or workmanship had violated local community standards, fines or punishment could follow.

Guild System. In similar fashion laborers found themselves regulated by social expectations. Skilled laborers in Europe had long maintained monopolistic control over admittance to their trades through a system of guilds. This system came under legal fire by the early 1700s from people advocating freer trade. English law generally frowned upon efforts of either workers or masters to combine to artificially raise or lower prices, and this was true in the colonies as well. Craft guilds developed in places like Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and New York. Carpenters guilds in Philadelphia published price scales. The Moravian communities in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina combined craftsmen into what amounted to a general guild, though in the Brotherly Agreement of 1754 they stated that they joined not for wage gain but for spiritual reasons. Craft guilds attempted to maintain the exclusive right to practice their trades by defining precisely the individual trades and prohibiting working in more than one area. Such efforts, however, met with only limited success.

Licensed Workers. Some trades were licensed and regulated by local authorities in the public interest. Dutch and then English New York limited the numbers of porters working in weigh houses and beer houses. Coopers (barrel makers), butchers, and bakers likewise had to be licensed by the colonial government. New York bakers went on strike in the 1600s and also in 1741 over high wheat prices; the latter strike resulted in indictments but no convictions.

Bound Servants. If skilled workers in Northern colonies were successful for a time in combining with one another, bound servants were not. The most common form of servitude initially was indentured servitude, by which one person contracted to serve another for a specified period of years. The indenture was usually made in return for food, shelter, and transportation to America. Most laborers in the Chesapeake area in the 1600s were white indentured servants. In 1670, 43 percent of Virginias House of Burgesses were former indentured servants. Masters began preferring slaves to indentured servants in the late 1600s, by which time slaves were seen as a better investment and easier to control. Yet indentured servitude lasted throughout the colonial era. Insurrections of indentured servants in Maryland and Virginia in the 1650s and 1670s resulted in statutes restricting their movements as well as their ability to meet in groups. Although legally and socially of a higher level than slaves, indentured servants nonetheless were seen as potentially dangerous should they band together. This attitude reflected English and American prejudices against poor, unskilled workers.

A SELECTIVE LISTING OF AMERICAN COLONIAL RIOTS, 1654-1757

Year(s) Colony Cause
Source: Richard Maxwell Brown, Strain of Violence: Historical Studies of American Violence and Vigilantism (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), pp. 301-302.
1654-1655R.I.Political factionalism
1663-1750R.I.Boundary dispute
1663-1750Conn.Boundary dispute
1663-1750Mass.Boundary dispute
1682Va.Tobacco cutters
1690N.C,Election
1699N.H.Sailors
1699-1700N.J.Land claims
1703S.C.Political factionalism
1703-1710N.Y.Religious differences
1704Pa.Young gentry
1705N.Y.Privateersmen
1710Mass.Food prices
1711N.Y.Religious differences
1711N.Y.Naval press gangs
1713Mass.Food prices
1718N.Y.-Conn.Boundary dispute
1718N.C.Seizure of official records
1719-1764N.Y.-N.J.Boundary dispute
1719R.I.Customs duties
1721-1737Pa.-Md.Boundary dispute
1722Conn.Jailbreak
1724Conn.Court seizure of a ship
1734N.H.Production of ship masts
1737Mass.Prostitution
1737Mass.Market prices
1737N.C.Quitrents
1738Pa.Construction of fish dams
1742Pa.Election
1745-1754N.J.Land claims
1747Mass.Naval press gangs
1750Pa.Election
1751-1757N.Y.Rent prices
1751-1757N.Y.-Mass.Boundary dispute
1754N.H.Surveyors of woods

Source

Richard B. Morris, Government and Labor in Early America (New York: Harper & Row, 1946).

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labor (in economics)

labor, term used both for the effort of performing a task and for the workers engaged in the activity. In ancient times much of the work was done by slaves (see slavery). In the feudal period agricultural labor was in the main performed by the serf. In medieval towns, however, the skilled artisans of the craft guilds became influential citizens. Many manual labor jobs were eliminated with the introduction of machinery (mid-18th cent.), thus creating a labor surplus (see Industrial Revolution). With increased competition for jobs and consequent decreasing wages, a form of labor contract came into use in Great Britain and its colonies, called indenture, by which people could hire themselves out for a certain number of years either for a lump sum of money or to pay off a debt. This practice disappeared by the end of the 19th cent. From the last quarter of the 19th cent. the condition of most manual labor has improved slowly in industrial countries through organization (see union, labor), permitting collective bargaining with employers and successful pressure on governments for protective legislation. In fact, the term labor is today most frequently used to signify organized labor. For labor disputes, see strike. See also child labor; migrant labor; peonage.

See J. R. Commons et al., History of Labour in the United States (4 vol., 1918–35, repr. 1966); G. D. H. Cole, A Short History of the British Working-Class Movement (new ed. 1960); N. J. Ware, Labor in Modern Industrial Society (1935, repr. 1968); A. Kuhn, Labor: Institutions and Economics (rev. ed. 1967); A. A. Paradis, The Labor Reference Book (1972); R. Fantasia, Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers (1989); T. Roof, American Labor, Congress and the Welfare State, 1935–2010 (2011).

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labor

la·bor / ˈlābər/ (Brit. la·bour) • n. 1. work, esp. hard physical work: manual labor. ∎  workers, esp. manual workers, considered collectively: nonunion casual labor. ∎  such workers considered as a social class or political force: [as adj.] the labor movement. ∎  (Labor) a department of government concerned with a nation's workforce: Secretary of Labor. 2. the process of childbirth, esp. the period from the start of uterine contractions to delivery: his wife is in labor. • v. [intr.] work hard; make great effort: they labored from dawn to dusk ∎  work at an unskilled manual occupation: he was eking out an existence by laboring. ∎  have difficulty in doing something despite working hard: Coley labored against confident opponents. ∎  (of an engine) work noisily and with difficulty: the wheels churned, the engine laboring. ∎  move or proceed with trouble or difficulty: they labored up a steep, tortuous track. ∎  (of a ship) roll or pitch heavily. PHRASES: a labor of love a task done for pleasure, not reward. labor the point explain or discuss something at excessive or unnecessary length.PHRASAL VERBS: labor under 1. carry (a heavy load or object) with difficulty. 2. be deceived or misled by (a mistaken belief): you've been laboring under a misapprehension. ORIGIN: Middle English labo(u)r, from Old French labour (noun), labourer (verb), both from Latin labor ‘toil, trouble.’

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Labor

399. Labor

  1. A.F.L.-C.I.O. (American Federation of LaborCongress of Industrial Organizations) federation of autonomous labor unions in North America. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 84]
  2. Gompers, Samuel (18501924) labor leader; organizer of American Federation of Labor. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 203]
  3. I.W.W. Industrial Workers of the World [Am. Hist.: Hart, 400]
  4. International Labor Organization (I.L.O. ) agency of the United Nations; aim is to improve labor and living conditions. [World Hist.: EB, V: 389390]
  5. Meany, George (18941980) former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1733]
  6. Marx, Karl (18181883) chief theorist of modem socialism stimulated working classs consciousness. [Ger. Hist.: NCE, 1708]
  7. National Labor Relations Board independent agency of U.S. government, supporting labors right to organize. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1887]
  8. Solidarity (Solidarnosc ) Polish labor union movement of the 1980s. [Pol. Hist.: WB, P:541]
  9. Teamsters large, powerful union of U. S. truckers. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2703]
  10. U.A.W. large American auto workers union. [Am. Hist.: WB, U:21]
  11. Wobblies nickname for I.W.W. members. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 400]

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labour

labour labour of love work undertaken either from fondness for the work itself, or from desire to benefit persons whom one loves. The term was originally used (in the late 17th century) as a direct quotation from St Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians.
labours of the month in the Middle Ages, seasonal occupations associated with particular months, and often represented in sculpture and illumination. The traditional representations are: January, Janus (sometimes also sitting at a table feasting); February, a man warming himself by a fire; March, pruning (usually vines); sometimes also digging; April, a man in foliage; May, a knight on horseback; June, mowing (haymaking); July, harvesting (reaping); August, threshing grain (occasionally fruit-picking); September, treading grapes (occasionally picking grapes); October, beating acorns from trees (sometimes filling casks); November, slaughtering hogs (sometimes animals feeding from a manger); December, feasting.

See also Labours of Hercules, mountain in labour.

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ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "labour." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 30 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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labour

labour (lay-ber) n. the sequence of actions by which a baby and the afterbirth (placenta) are expelled from the uterus at childbirth (see illustration). Labour usually starts spontaneously about 280 days after conception, but it may be started by artificial means (see induction). In the first stage the muscular wall of the uterus begins contracting while the cervix expands. The amnion ruptures releasing amniotic fluid to the exterior. In the second stage the baby passes through the vagina, assisted by contractions of the abdominal muscles and conscious pushing by the mother. When the whole infant has been eased clear of the vagina, the umbilical cord is cut. In the final stage the placenta and membranes are pushed out by the continuing contraction of the uterus. See also Caesarean section.

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labour

labour In most sociological contexts this term is synonymous with wage-labour. However, in Marxism attention is often drawn to the conflicting interests of ‘Labour’ and ‘Capital’. The former is here a reference to the proletariat, and alludes to the theory of the exploitation of labour-power by the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie. Occasionally, as for example in anthropological discussion of ‘labouring’ or sociological analyses of domestic labour, the term may be equated with work rather than the more restricted category of paid employment.

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labour

labour In childbirth, stage in the delivery of the fetus at the end of pregnancy. In the first stage, contractions of the uterus begin and the cervix dilates in readiness; the sac containing the amniotic fluid ruptures. In the second stage, the contractions strengthen and the baby is propelled through the birth canal. The third stage is the expulsion of the placenta and fetal membranes, together known as the afterbirth.

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labour

labour, U.S. labor toil, work XIII; travail of childbirth XVI. —OF. labo(u)r (mod. labeur ploughing)— L. labor, -ōr- exertion, trouble, suffering, perh. orig. burden under which one staggers, rel. to labāre slip.
So labour vb. XIV. —(O)F. labourer (now chiefly, plough). labourer XIV. —(O)F. laboureur; see -ER1, -ER2. laborious XIV. —(O)F. laborieux.

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Labour

Labour

of moles: a company of molesBk. of St. Albans, 1486.

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labor (in physiology)

labor: see birth.

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labor

laborabba, blabber, dabber, grabber, jabber, stabber, yabber •Alba, Galbaamber, camber, caramba, clamber, Cochabamba, gamba, mamba, Maramba, samba, timbre •Annaba, arbor, arbour, barber, Barbour, harbour (US harbor), indaba, Kaaba, Lualaba, Pearl Harbor, Saba, Sabah, Shaba •sambar, sambhar •rebbe, Weber •Elba •Bemba, December, ember, member, November, Pemba, September •belabour (US belabor), caber, labour (US labor), neighbour (US neighbor), sabre (US saber), tabor •chamber • bedchamber •antechamber •amoeba (US ameba), Bathsheba, Bourguiba, Geber, Sheba, zariba •cribber, dibber, fibber, gibber, jibba, jibber, libber, ribber •Wilbur •limber, marimba, timber •winebibber •calibre (US caliber), Excalibur •briber, fibre (US fiber), scriber, subscriber, Tiber, transcriber •clobber, cobber, jobber, mobber, robber, slobber •ombre, sombre (US somber) •carnauba, catawba, dauber, Micawber •jojoba, Manitoba, October, sober •Aruba, Cuba, Nuba, scuba, tuba, tuber •Drouzhba • Toowoomba • Yoruba •Hecuba

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"labor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 30 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"labor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-labor.html

"labor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-labor.html

labour

labourabba, blabber, dabber, grabber, jabber, stabber, yabber •Alba, Galbaamber, camber, caramba, clamber, Cochabamba, gamba, mamba, Maramba, samba, timbre •Annaba, arbor, arbour, barber, Barbour, harbour (US harbor), indaba, Kaaba, Lualaba, Pearl Harbor, Saba, Sabah, Shaba •sambar, sambhar •rebbe, Weber •Elba •Bemba, December, ember, member, November, Pemba, September •belabour (US belabor), caber, labour (US labor), neighbour (US neighbor), sabre (US saber), tabor •chamber • bedchamber •antechamber •amoeba (US ameba), Bathsheba, Bourguiba, Geber, Sheba, zariba •cribber, dibber, fibber, gibber, jibba, jibber, libber, ribber •Wilbur •limber, marimba, timber •winebibber •calibre (US caliber), Excalibur •briber, fibre (US fiber), scriber, subscriber, Tiber, transcriber •clobber, cobber, jobber, mobber, robber, slobber •ombre, sombre (US somber) •carnauba, catawba, dauber, Micawber •jojoba, Manitoba, October, sober •Aruba, Cuba, Nuba, scuba, tuba, tuber •Drouzhba • Toowoomba • Yoruba •Hecuba

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"labour." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 30 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"labour." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-labour.html

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