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Historical Milestones of AFL. Essay (Critical Writing)


Effects of Haymarket Riot, Homestead Strike and Pullman Strike on AFL

The Haymarket riot helped the AFL by increasing pressure for the creation of reasonable working hours. The AFL took the initiative to campaign for short working days. It is also believed that the strike led to growth and vitality of trade unions. The Homestead Strike on the other hand saw the defeat and collapse of the of The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AA) and this acted as a great setback to the efforts put forward in a bid to unionize the steel workers.

The fact that most steel companies decreased their wages and continued with de-unionization efforts meant that the AFL efforts were also undermined. The Pullman Strike boosted the AFL due to the immense support and great success achieved. The strike did not only increase national attention, but also led to the demand of federal action. The success of the strike was a big milestone to AFL.

These three events hurt AFL as union membership began to decline. This was fuelled by employers developing their own strategies, which they used to counter the activities of the trade unions (Holley, Jennings &Wolters, 2009). Differences also arose within AFL in regard to the representation of semiskilled workers weakening the organization, as a rival labor organization was formed.

Employer tactics to prevent/ minimize union membership growth before the Wagner ACT

Employers would interfere with the formation and administration of labor unions, discriminate employees in relation to their tenure or the hiring processes and even put terms and conditions that would discourage employees from joining the labor organizations. Hiring of strikebreakers to end strikes and blacklisting union members was also used to counter the strengths of the unions. Employees would be restrained from their right to self-organization, by being restricted from engaging in activities with the aim of collective bargaining.

They would be discharged or discriminated against if they filed charges against their employers or even testified against them. Employers would also have their own company unions in a bid to weaken the outside union’s influence on their employees (Michael, (n.d). Others would decline to bargain with union representatives if their employees were members and even forced them to sign agreements otherwise known as ‘the yellow-dog contracts’, agreeing not to join unions. None of these tactics would be lawful today.

Evolution of labor unions and human resources

Human resources can be traced back to the era before the industrial revolution when master craftsmen lived at home or in their shops with their apprentices. The apprentice would be taken care of by the master’s family as they learnt the trade (Michael, (n.d). With the emergence of the industrial age, this arrangement changed from a home environment to the factories. Attention was also shifted from the employees to consumer demands, the machines and the production process.

By 1800, this neglect became a serious concern especially to employees who were now in lowly paying, monotonous and unsafe working environment. This led to the evolution of labor relations where employees began forming unions in a bid to fight for improved living standards, their rights and protect their interests. The governments strengthened their resolve by providing basic employee rights and protection.

Factories were also experiencing hardships recruiting new employees and retaining them due to poor working conditions and could not meet their targets. With this development, employers discovered a link between employee satisfaction and involvement to productivity. By late 1800 and early 1900, companies had personnel to look into these issues leading to evolvement of human resources (Michael, (n.d).

Coexistence of labor unions and human resources

Both labor relations and human resource interrelate in that both try to improve workers lives. While labor relations may seek to change corporate practices that employees are not comfortable with or to make demands to certain rights in order to improve workers lives, all this is directed and handled by the human resource hence their coexistence.


Holley, W.H., Jennings, K.M., & Wolters, R.S. (2009). The labor relations process (9th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Michael, L. (n.d). HR comes of age: History of human resource management. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Historical Milestones of AFL." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/historical-milestones-of-afl/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Historical Milestones of AFL." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/historical-milestones-of-afl/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Historical Milestones of AFL'. 18 June.

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