Related BLS programs | Related articles
July 1989, Vol. 112, No. 7
Samuel Gompers: a half century in labor's front rank
In the formative years of the modem American labor movement, Samuel Gompers stood out as spokesman and advocate, organizer and leader, conciliator and promoter-and, above all, as a seemingly tireless representative of organized labor. For over a half century, he devoted himself completely to the labor movement, first within the Cigarmakers' International Union and after 1886 as president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
Gompers never accepted any problem as beyond solution, be it personal or political. Although he had a stammer as a young man, he learned to speak effectively, and although his formal education ended at age 10, he learned to write clear, if somewhat ponderous, prose. Gompers persisted where others lost heart. He believed that the weak and limited set of trade unions of the 1880's could grow in strength and become the means by which workers would significantly advance their interests. He also believed that the AFL could be the national organization of these often fractious unions-chartering trade unions, adjusting disputes among them, lobbying at the national and State levels, and, perhaps most important, legitimizing the institution of the trade union and its right to organize workers and bargain for them. Samuel Gompers became the personification of the AFL, and clearly the best known and most influential labor leader of his time.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1989 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full text in PDF (610K)
Related BLS programs
BLS does not have any programs that directly relate to the topic of this article.
Related Monthly Labor Review articles
Arthur Goldberg: proof of the American dream.Jan. 1997.
George W. Taylor: industrial peacemaker.Dec. 1995.
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers