The Knights of Labor
This group, which peaked membership in 1886, grew rapidly because of a combination of their open-membership policy, the continuing industrialization of the American economy, and the growth of urban population;
welcomed unskilled and semiskilled workers, including women, immigratns, and African Americans;
were idealists who believed they could eliminate conflict between labor and managements. Their goal was to create a cooperative society in which laborers owned the industries in which they worked.
The Industrial Workers of the World
Led by "Mother" Jones, Elizabeth Flynn, Big Bill Haywood, and Eugene Debs;
strove to unite all laborers, including unskilled workers and African Americans;
its goal was to create "One Big Union;"
embraced the rhetoric of class conflict and endorsed violent tactics;
the organization collapsed during WWI.
The American Federation of Labor
Led by Samuel Gompers;
an alliance of skilled workers in craft unions;
concentrated on brea-and-butter issues such as higher wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions.
The Great Railroad Strike
1877, provoked by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's decision to cut wages for the second time in a year;
remembered as the first general strike in American history;
paralyzed the nation's commerce for 45 days;
forced governors in ten states to mobilize 60,000 militia to reopen rail traffic.
Sherman Antitrust Act
1890, forbade only unreasonable combinations or contracts in restraint of trade;
had little immediate impact on the regulation of large corporations;
during the last decade of the nineteenth century, the primary use of the act was to curb labor unions.
1892, began as a dispute between the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (the AA) and the Carnegie Steel Company;
The AA refused to accept pay cuts and went on strike in Pennsylvania;
the strike ultimately culminated in a battle between strikers and private security guards hired by the company.
when the national economy fell into a depression, the Pullman Palace Car Company cut wages while maintaining rents and prices in a company town where 12,000 workers lived;
halted a substantial portion of American railroad commerce;
ended when President Cleveland ordered federal troops to Chicago, ostensibly to protect rail-carried mail, but in reality, to crush the strike.
The Anthracite Coal Strike
1902, a strike by the United Mine Workers of America in eastern Pennsylvania;
it was arbitrated with the active involvement of President Theodore Roosevelt; this marked the first time the federal government intervened in a labor dispute as a neutral arbitrator.
1935, also known as the National Labor Relations Act;
often called the Magna Carta of labor because it ensured workers' right to organize and bargain collectively;
led to a dramatic increase in labor union membership.
The Congress of Industrial Workers
led by John L. Lewis;
organized unskilled and semiskilled factory workers in basic manufacturing industries such as steel and automobiles.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) split apart at its national convention in 1935;
a majority of AFL leaders refused to grant charters to new unions organized on an industry-wide basis;
the AFL favored the organization of workers according to their skills and trades;
the CIO favored the organization of all workers in a particular industry.
1947, the primary purpose was to curb the power of labor unions;
supporters believed: 1) unions were abusing their power; 2) widespread strikes would endanger the nation's vital defense industries; 3) some labor unions had been infiltrated by Communists; 4) employers were being coerced into hiring union workers;
opposed by organized labor.