Once again, I’m continuing with my theme of historical political cartoons and what they can show us about our history, taught and untaught. This week, I’m focusing on unions and made the discovery that during the Gilded Age and beyond, the unions had a more mixed perception than I anticipated. There was still suspicion and distrust, largely because of the associations made between socialism and violent anarchists. Strikes were often portrayed as anti-American. However, the oligarchs of the time were increasingly viewed as a threat, and unions were often represented as a bulwark against them. Additionally, there was a rising independent, alternative (often socialist or union) media with their own political cartoons, which often countered that found in the general circulation media. (Socialist Newspapers by Circulation) Today, union membership is dropping just as their popularity is increasing (Unions More Popular), and how effectively the unions and voters respond to the anti-union efforts will determine their future.
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