How the Workforce Changed After the Gilded Ages


During the gilded ages, many people were moving off of their farm land in the rural country, to big factories, and industries in the city. As many moved, the employers gained fame, power, and money fast. This helped them in many situations when their employees stand up for themselves and strike. In this blog I will talk about how this movement affected the workers, why employers saw unions as dangerous, and what benefits workers got from unions.

The late 1800’s saw a massive rise in industrialization due to people trying to get away from the country side. Thousands of families packed their things and left their homes to join the workforce. This movement had a positive and negative affect on workers in their family. The positives were that they were making steady pay and were able to work better hours. Comparing this to the rural life was a big boost. Many worked all day and night to only make little pay of their crops. The negative about the industrialization is the crowding of people and the actual work space. The job openings brought a mass amount of people into the city which caused living space inside the city to become limited. Also, even though they are getting paid a little amount, the work space is very unsafe and the employers are not respectful to you at all.

Speaking of bad work spaces, the employers started to get greedy and cut their wages and raised the working hours. After a while of this, employees were fed up with it and wanted to go on strike. They formed up a union to discuss how they wanted to go about getting what they wanted from their employers. Many want on strike and stopped working. These strikes consisted of not showing up to work or doing a sit down strike at work. The employers found out about these unions and began to fear for their company. The workers not showing up would mean no production is getting done. With no work being done, that means the company is making no money. Employers want to stay strong with their beliefs but also want to make money. Another fear on the employers had was that if they did not give the employees their demands they may get violent, which some unions did. this would cause a lot of money lost for the employers, and even possibly making them lose their company.

Unions were a big step forward for the workforce that we see today. They went on strike and demanded for better pay, hours, and working conditions. After a while of demanding, the employers finally cracked and gave them what they wanted so they would come back and work. Unions also helped get some people holiday bonuses, paid vacation, and simply days off to just relax. The stand unions took back in the day also allowed women to believe in themselves and stand up to their employers to be treated equal as well. The Gilded Ages were not always a positive, but they allowed workers to stand up to the employers and demand respect and safe work that we now have all over the world today.

By Kyle Chanin

5 thoughts on “How the Workforce Changed After the Gilded Ages

  1. Today, even after the Gilded Age has been long gone people still are following the trend of moving to cities and leaving the countryside and rural life behind. Nowadays many people flock to cities in hopes to get a good job and get a “taste” of things that can’t be experienced in rural areas. The blog says that during the Gilded Age people moved because they thought if they were a worker in the city they would receive “steady pay and they would be able to work better hours”. However, upon closer examination, one might ask his or her self was there something more that helped make the decision to move that much easier. City life offered more cultural diversity and a “taste” of the real world. City life also “advertised” better medical care and various forms of entertainment. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to the question of what other factors helped persuade people to migrate from the countryside to the cities during the Gilded Age. I would love to hear what everyone else has to say about this subject.

  2. Although Unions don’t have the power they once did, when they go on strike today they are not always peaceful. The last strike Nexteer had the union employees caused a lot of ruckus for the salary workers. While the concept of a union is good, and they have worked hard to gain things like vacation days, and holiday bonus’s, they also have some negative. They are able to file grievances for the silliest things, making the company pay out money to people for no reason.

  3. During the Gilded Age, many workers did want to get away from rural life and ways of living. Although farming and working in the fields had always been a very significant way of life and income, it was just no longer cutting it. People were not making a significant amount of pay, and were starting to have a hard time providing for their families, especially if they had a larger family. Since a lot of the income revolved around the crops and selling them, if you had a bad crop that season, your income would definitely suffer. Although farming has been a way of life for so long, the people during the Gilded Age felt that something must change.
    Leaving to work in big industries definitely gave them a more steady job and income. Work in the industries would be something that always needed to be done, especially since it had started booming. People felt that this offered them many new opportunities, and many women and children even began to join the workforce. However, industries would soon meet them with many challenges, such as working conditions, working hours, safety conditions, etc. Which would somewhat help lead back to farming in today’s world.
    In today’s society, farming has somewhat made its way back into existence. Although during the industrial period it had sort of made its way out, it was still some peoples way of making an income, and since this time it has gained back some of its popularity. I know that today, depending on where you live, farming may or may not be a big part of you or your town. Although back in the industrial era, farming had offered many challenges such as bad crops, drought, flooding, etc. Today we have somewhat “industrialized” farming, and invented many new technologies to overcome problems such as drought, flooding, bugs, etc. This shows how much the ways of life can change and then go back to the way they were before when facing challenges.

  4. It is sad how greedy some of the employers were. I couldn’t imagine working in such terrible conditions and being treated so poorly because of my gender. These unions were the best thing that could happened for these people. I think it is important for the employer to have some power, but when an employee has no voice at all it is cause for concern. Staying employed was very important but being paid a wage that is much lower than the cost of living is pure greed. I’m glad they finally got their voice because it paved the way for workers til this day.

  5. I agree that the Gilded Ages were a huge stepping stone to where we are today. As workers striked, and demanded benefits, the employers were forced to give in. What is an industry without its workers? Without the unions America’s workforce would be deprived of a rightful life. The workplace would be filled with danger, worn down citizens, and an unhealthy environment for the world in general.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s