High School Unit III

Lesson B: Working Toward Change

Key Questions

  1. Why did working people become involved in the labor movement?
  2. What responsibilities do factory owners have to those who work for them? What responsibilities do workers have to the factory owners?
  3. What role should government play in protecting the rights of working people? How does government exercise its role (for example,legislative oversight, regulations, etc.) How has that role changed over time?

Primary Sources

Document HS III-2: How is a Contract Created? Excerpt from The Labor Movement: The Problem of Today, by George McNeill, 1886

Document HS III-2: How is a Contract Created? Excerpt from The Labor Movement: The Problem of Today, by George McNeill, 1886

…. Under the wage-system, no congregated form of labor is conducted on the theory of freedom of contract. At a recent hearing before a legislative body, the treasurer of a large manufactory was asked if he ever consulted with his help in reference to the matter of wages, "Do you suppose I run my establishment on the town-meeting plan?" In other words, he confessed, as all employers confess, that they do not propose to allow any freedom of contract as between them and their employees. The contract, so-called, is an agreement that the employer or corporation shall name all of the conditions to the bargain.

Quoted in Boston's Workers: A Labor History, by James R. Green and Hugh Carter Donahue (Boston Public Library, 1972).

×

Related Mass Moments