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Gompers v. United States

Samuel Gompers

One of the most influential leaders of the American labor movement, Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) was born in London and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1863. Like his father, he entered the cigar-making trade. He became a leader of the cigar makers union and eventually became the first president of the American Federation of Labor when it formed in 1886, holding the position until his death in 1924.

Gompers was an advocate of "business unionism," also called "pure and simple unionism." This approach to organizing workers emphasized the basics of collective bargaining and was essentially conservative in its acceptance of the prevailing economic order. Government intervention and social reform were not emphasized, as in more radical labor organizations such as the Knights of Labor and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Gompers also favored the organization of labor nationally by trade or craft, as opposed to the "one big union" of the IWW or the vertical integration of all employees of a firm into a single union that was later favored by the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Gompers v. United States - Significance, The Provisions Of The Constitution Are Not Mathematical Formulas, Impact, Samuel Gompers