But, as Mises wrote, "Actually labor union violence is tolerated within broad limits…the authorities, with the approval of public opinion, condone such acts."5The courts struggled with the legal status of labor unions from the beginning: were such combinations or labor cartels lawful or not?

intimidating actions by unions-1

In the vast sweep of the early American economy, unions were a curiosity rather than a prominent feature, confined largely to skilled trades in big cities and on the railroads.

Not until the late 1870s and prosperous 1880s, when political philosophy began to shift toward collectivism and the "progressive era," did national trade unions gain a real foothold.

Local culture and ideology play a large role because the response of local police, courts, and politicians to union aggression is pivotal.

By 1810, union tactics were fully formed: bargain "collectively," demand fixed minimum pay rates, enforce closed shops, stage strikes with picket lines, scab lists, strike funds, and traveling cards, and promote unity among skilled and unskilled workers and solidarity among locals of the same trade.

The typical strike aimed to force employers to pay more than necessary for labor available on the open market.

The silent corollary was that everyone — union member or no — must "strike" too, that is, withhold his or her labor, willing or not, and refuse employment at pay less than that demanded by strikers.Most unions failed during business downturns as jobs, union membership, and revenue declined.While wage rates fell elsewhere in response to depressed business conditions, unions stubbornly insisted on maintaining wage rates ("wage rigidity"), intensifying their own failure.Most labor protests, however, were spontaneous actions like that reported in 1763, when, according to the , Negro chimney sweeps "had the insolence, by a combination among themselves, to raise the usual prices, and to refuse doing their work."Before 1800, printers and shoemakers organized in Philadelphia and New York.Philadelphia printers conducted the first recorded strike for higher wages in 1786, opposing a wage cut and demanding a minimum wage of per week.2 Employers quickly acquiesced, confirming the generalization in industrial relations that unions win short strikes and lose long ones.Some workers were intensely anti-union, not just employers.