History 152 - Lecture 5

History 152 - Lecture 5 - Lecture#5 The Rise of Radicalism...

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Lecture #5 The Rise of Radicalism I. Knights of Labor a. 1869: The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor b. A “secret but peaceful” society of workers c. Universal Brotherhood of all workers, from common laborers to skilled craftsman d. Played no part in the strikes of 1877, but membership swelled afterward e. 1878 decided to drop the secrecy and actively organize workers regardless of sex, race or nationality f. Embraced public ownership of RR, equal pay for women and abolition of child labor g. Sought to remove class distinctions h. Excluded were the “parasitic” members of society: gamblers, stockbrokers, lawyers, bankers, and liquor dealers – more lawyers in one building in Seattle than in all of Japan i. In theory Knights opposed strikes and favored arbitration and boycott j. But successful RR strikes against Jay Gould in 1885 gave them a taste for militancy II. AFL a. Founded by Samuel Gompers, a cigar maker born in London, of Dutch Jewish ancestry b. Trades and Labors Union in 1881 and reorganized it in 1886 to the AFL c. Organize skilled labor and use strikes to gain immediate benefits like higher pay and better conditions d. 1886 Knights had 730,000 and AFL had only 138,000 members e. AFL became dominant union and still exists today III. Homestead a. 1892 steelworkers squared off against Carnegie over the right to organize unions b. Ironic: 1886 Carnagie wrote “The right of the workingmen to combine and to form trandes unions is no less sacred than the right of the manufacture to enter into associalsn and conferences with his fellows. c. Six years later, he would try and crush the union in his own company, as much as he cherished his liberal ideals, he cherished profits more d. 1870’s labor strife had allowed him to buy the plant from his competitors at cost and take over the steel industry e.
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