A Workingman’s Hero

Samuel Gompers, the AFL President.

Because of Samuel Gompers, his beliefs lead to the development of procedures of collective bargaining, which are negotiations between trade unions and employers to reach an agreement about working conditions. He helped found the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, and reorganized it to the American Federation of Labor (AFL). He was president of the AFL till he died in 1924. He supported the workingmen, and worked hard to fight for their rights, such as safe working conditions, shorter hours, and higher wages.

            When he was a working man himself as a cigar maker, he also joined the Cigarmakers’ Local Union No. 15. He knew how hard it was for the workers at the cigar company. There was insufficient amount of light to work, and it was dusty and dirty from the tobacco. It was tedious work because the leaves had to be handled carefully and the cigars had to be perfectly shaped and rolled. When he became president of the Cigarmakers’ International Union Local 144, unemployment increased tremendously. He kept the union members strong from allowing them to take low wages and long hours. Thus, he reorganized the union by creating programs to “pay out-of-work”, sick, and death benefits. He wanted to watch out for his fellow workingmen from being gobbled up by the capitalists.

            Two questions that I would ask Samuel Gompers would be:

1)      What do you think was your greatest accomplishment was?

2)      Would you make any changes to any of the unions we have today in America? If so which one(s), and why.

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