American businessmen will ultimately accept such demands as the eight hour day and forty hour week, not because they were forced to do so, but because it was good for business.
I agree with this statement 100%. During the first years of the 20th century, the companies had total control over their workers. Take the coal mining industry for example. It started the workers off young, often around the age of 8! This made sure that for the rest of their life, they’d never know anything other than mining, therefore keeping them down. The people who grew up in the mining community were downtrodden, and kept that way. Sure, they were afforded “luxury’s”, such as housing and free heat (a monthly supply of coal). This may seem great on the surface, until you realized that the housing was often poorly built, and often just a shanty town set up to pacify the cry’s of the employees. The coal was often the stuff left over after the good coal was sold to industry.
Sometimes it was nothing more than rock. But this is what they worked for. This is what these people were forced to, most of the time for their whole life. But then something happened. The factories that the coal companies sold their product too started to close. Why, you may ask? BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS TO POOR TO BUY ANYTHING FROM THEM! This got the bosses thinking. If they don’t work the people so hard, they wont be so tired that they may go shopping. And if they pay the people more, so that way they get compensated for fact that their working less hours, they’ll have that money to spend on the products, this keeping the economy rolling. After many years of changing schedules, the standard 8 hour day and 40 hour work week were adopted. Now, I’ve worked an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week during the summer, and I did not like it! It was very long and dragging, and now I think about what these people had to go through with, and I realize that I can’t complain. They were doing 70 hour weeks, 12 hour days for less than I make in an hour. It took a long time to fix the ills suffered by the working man, but once the ball got rolling, there was no stopping it.
Another reason why this workweek was adopted was because the less time you work, the less tired you are. This increased productivity. And the extra money added to their salary increased moral. As you can see, as we go farther into the 20th Century, these things have to change, or else it would have been chaos. Workers revolted all the time, and many times the police and military had to intervene. The fact of the matter is though that there was way more common workers than anything else, and henceforth could have started their own army. An army for the common man. It was all the employers could do was meet their demands. They knew the risk.
American in the 20th century