• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was the 1920s a major turning point in the development of labour and trade union rights in the USA from 1865-1992?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent was the 1920's a major turning point in the development of labour and trade union rights in the USA from 1865-1992? Throughout the period trade union rights, the most basic of which was to exist, and labour rights, which unlike trade union rights were granted by the employer and were individual to the workers, generally failed to develop along the same trajectory. At many points, indeed during the 1920s, the advancement of labour rights appeared to conflict with the development of trade union rights. However, when considering the turning points in the development of trade union and labour rights together during the period, it is evident that the 1920's, far from being a turning point, was an era which saw only superficial advancements in labour rights and limited change for trade unions. In contrast, major turning points can be identified at the very start of the period, which saw the establishment of trade unions, during the 1930's and towards the end of the period between 1980 and 1992, a pivotal time due to the significant regression of union rights. As a decade which enjoyed an unprecedented level of economic prosperity, it is true that during the 1920's workers were indeed granted better conditions and the number of causes of industrial unrest was reduced. ...read more.


In particular Roosevelt's New Deal was a turning point in the development of both trade union and labour rights. The National Labour Relations Act of 1935 was a pivotal point as the act, most significantly, was the first piece of national legislation that recognised the right of workers to join trade unions and to elect their own representatives to take part in collective bargaining. This was a crucial development in labour rights as it gave workers a voice with which to negotiate and express concerns. Labour rights were further advanced as spies in the workplace were forbidden, the Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938 introduced a minimum weekly wage of $25 and payment for overtime work and the NLRB was established. The NRLB was able to bargain on behalf of workers and reinstate unfairly dismissed employees. The act also facilitated the expansion of trade union membership which rose to 9 million by 1938. It also meant that for the first time trade unions were being recognised by employers, for example General Motors and Chrysler officially recognised the Union of Auto Workers in 1937. The 1930's were also significant as a turning point as the Committee on Industrial Organisation was created which represented unskilled workers and unlike before black workers, other ethnic groups and women benefited from the opportunity to join the CIO. ...read more.


Unions' powers to improve labour rights were limited as employers refused to recognised organised labour. Moreover, instances such as the Haymarket affair and the growing number of immigrant labour created divisions in the workforce which undermined the development of both labour and trade union rights. Similarly, any progress that had been made for workers rights was limited to rights for white, male workers and was dependent on economic fluctuation which continued up to 1914. There was a marked decline in organised labour from 1970 and by 1992 the development and power of organised labour had begun to regress. As a result the end of the period was an extremely significant turning point as unlike before, the developments made in the advancement of trade union, and to a slightly lesser extent, labour rights were reversed. Of great significance was the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers strike. The traffic controllers strike was met with hostility by the Federal Government, a backlash in public support for trade unions and a dramatic decline in the membership of industrial unions from 27% to 12% by 1990. Moreover, the economic recession during the mid-1970s to 1992 and changing composition of the workforce further weakened trade union and labour rights. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

The student has an excellent understanding of the question, and they show this in the introduction by defining Progressive, which shows immediately that they are knowledgeable. They then select the presidents they will consider, which shows they can select relevant ...

Read full review

Response to the question

The student has an excellent understanding of the question, and they show this in the introduction by defining Progressive, which shows immediately that they are knowledgeable. They then select the presidents they will consider, which shows they can select relevant facts. Weaker students might have chosen two random presidents to contrast with Wilson, but by choosing those who were president around the same time, the student is showing they can talk about the examples most relevant to the question. A strength of this essay is the way the student considers each of the three presidents in detail: this answers the question because it shows they are aware that Wilson might not have been the most Progressive president, and they are thinking widely and considering the alternatives.

Level of analysis

The student uses some good evidence in their essay, such as the use of dates - "Trade Commission Act (1914)" is good because it shows the student can place events into a timeframe rather than just quote names of laws. It would be even better if this student had pointed out the significance of the time it was passed - they could point out that it was almost at the start of his presidency, which would show that he wanted to pass Progressive laws like this as soon as possible. This would be good, as talking about the significance of events shows understanding while talking about the details of them only shows a good memory. The student needs to take care with factual evidence: because American elections are nearly always in November and there is a gap while the previous president leaves, presidents become president the year after they are elected, so it was inaccurate to say "Taft was a president from 1908 - 1912". It is also inaccurate to say "he is well known for being ‘hand picked by Theodore Roosevelt’" as American presidents are not appointed by the president before them, they are elected. It is important to get facts correct as much as possible because several mistakes in the same essay will suggest you have little understanding - or you haven't revised - so always make sure you copy down information carefully when making revision notes. However, the conclusion is excellent as the student picks Wilson as the most progressive president, which is good as it answers the question and shows they can assess evidence to find an interpretation they agree with.

Quality of writing

The quality of writing lets this essay down. At times it comes across as informal, which is bad because Progressivism is a serious historical topic. Instead of saying ''Now we have looked at both Roosevelt and Taft'', it would be better to say ''After consideration of both Roosevelt and Taft...''. Try to avoid using ''we'' in essays altogether (unless it's from a quote), as you are trying to create an argument, not create a relationship with the reader. On the plus side, the essay's spelling, grammar and punctuation are excellent, which is good because it means the examiner doesn't have to work out what the student is trying to say and can instead focus on giving them marks for their argument and knowledge.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by lordharvey 18/04/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the significance of the role of individuals in reducing racial discrimination in the ...

    5 star(s)

    Also he gave confidence to other African Americans in campaigning against racial discrimination which could be seen in the likes of the Greensboro Sit Ins further into the civil rights movement. The likes of the NACCP helped to put an end to racial discrimination with the use of court cases

  2. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent did the US president hinder rather than help the development of ...

    3 star(s)

    One of the Presidents who helped the development of African Americans Civil Rights was Grant. He ratified the 15th Amendment. He developed the 1st and 2nd enforcement acts. This was clear progress in the development of Civil Rights for African Americans.

  1. Peer reviewed

    Assess the view that the Supreme Court was the most important branch of federal ...

    4 star(s)

    This, however, changed when Woodrow Wilson came to power. A Southerner himself, he was very much used to the idea that African Americans were second-class citizens, and held the racist views that were, for him, a cultural norm - and among his first actions on coming to power was to dismiss all African American advisors, and he refused to

  2. Peer reviewed

    The New Deal USA

    4 star(s)

    The Cartoonist presents the President and the New Deal as a deception and untrustworthy which implies that Roosevelt was not every American's hero and not everyone was convinced that the New Deal was a success. O'Callaghan writes that "to millions of Americans, [Roosevelt] was the man who had given them jobs" and therefore the New Deal policies were a success.

  1. How far do you agree with this description of the prosperity of the USA ...

    most farmers struggled to get by and whilst it seemed at the time many were moving to the city because people were becoming wealthier it was a perception of wealth as many farmers were driven out of the countryside. World War One actually helped American Industry.

  2. To what extent was WW2 the most significant turning point for civil rights

    To some extent they did have success. The fair employment practises commission (FEPC) gained considerable power and forced many industries to desegregate, most notable the Philadelphia transport company. In 1944 the supreme court ruled in the Smith v Alwright case that the all white primaries of the democratic south were unconstitutional and must change.

  1. To what extent was the economic boom of the 1920s caused by the development ...

    Also, mass production sometimes meant that less workers were needed as machines were doing some of the work, damaging the economy rather than fuelling the boom. Therefore it is clear that due to the introduction of mass production methods, Americas prosperity in the 1920s was increased, however due to the problems of overproduction and unemployment its significance is limited.

  2. The Great Depression, causes and effects.

    This lead to a spread of the depression. The American government set up the Federal Reserve System to give out loans to commercial banks to support them. The Federal Reserve System gave the go ahead to create federal notes that increase our paper money supply.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work