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Word Count: 368
The first half of Charles A Scontras Organized Labor in Maine Twentieth Century Origins highlights the development of unions in Maine at the turn of the twentieth century Unions were battling to survive amid various obstacles including a depression resistance by employers and slow acceptance by workers The depression of the 1890s had a negative effect on the newly forming unionized state of Maine A sharp reduction in the work force led to membership plummeting Many of the companies reported a twenty-five to sixty percent cut in employees The employers also cut the remaining workers pay some by thirty percent The pay reduction in turn forced families to put their children to work The ages of the new workers ranged between five and fourteen years of age The unions then took action initiating a bill that would only allow a child twelve years of age or older to work in the factories In 1899 companies started to invest capital into their factories throughout the state This action created jobs The stimulated growth of business allowed the unions to prosper and start fighting for higher wages shorter hours and better working conditions An early milestone came in 1904 when the carpenters of the central unions won the nine-hour workday This coup helped legitimize the unions role as a player in worker rights In the spring of that year the American Federation of Labor took notice of Maine and sent John J Keegan as special organizer In 1906 Keegan mustered the delegates from thoughout Maine to meet in Augusta This group of delegates formed the state organization Churches became instrumental in the growth of unions The churches backing helped unions gain the support of the towns and cities More people started to buy union-produced merchandise The new strength of the unions was feared by many Some companies made statements that showed fear of the unions We do
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