"having discovered that they were unable singly to combat the numerous powers arrayed against them, united together for mutual protection". It was believed that "trade societies are the best means" for workers in the individual trades, and Trades Unions (central labor bodies) the best means for all the trades.
- This idea gained such headway that the cotton operatives in several Pennsylvania towns formed the Trades Union of Pennsylvania. The tailors of Louisville, Cincinnati and St. Louis acted concertedly against the master tailors of those three towns in December, 1835.
- 88. What was gained through these central unions?
- Carpenters won the 10-hour day in Philadelphia and an increase in wages in 1833. Several attempts to cut wages were successfully resisted. Many strikes for benefits were successful. A labor press was one important outcome of these bodies, and a more general knowledge of labor problems was diffused.
- 89. What appears to have been their general economic policy?
- Unions with grievances would strike in the absence of remedial treatment. The affiliated unions would lend financial assistance and such industrial support as refusing to supply raw material, or to handle the products of scab workmen. At that stage of industrial development this meant the exercise of great power, and with the conscientiously strenuous use of the boycott was designed to win a greater measure of success than was possible to a single trade society.
- 90. What of union political action?
- Apparently the unions had learned the lesson of politics, and their experiences were recent enough to suggest to them the taking of a definite stand. So, we find the unionists dead set against participation in politics by the organizations. In New York they counselled the unionized workers "not to lend their standard to decorate the pageant of any political procession". In Baltimore politics were disavowed. In Philadelphia, the home of labor politics, it was decided that "no Party, political or religious questions shall at any time be agitated in, or acted upon by this Union."
- In 1836 the Philadelphia union gave three reasons