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Comparing the AFL and The Knights of Labor

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Cecelia Martin

on 5 February 2014

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Transcript of Comparing the AFL and The Knights of Labor

Comparing the AFL and The Knights of Labor
By: Alyssa Cole, Cecelia Martin, and Miranda Salvo
Knights of

Platform Beliefs and Ideas
Summary of Successes and Failures
Strategies/Tactics Used
Knights of Labor
Knights of
Similar Union Groups
Knights of

Important Events
Knights of Labor
1885, staged a successful strike over Jay Gould’s
Wabash Railroad
Strategies/Tactics Used
Founded in 1869 under the leadership of Uriah S. Stephens
Platform of Ideas
Constituency / Membership
Established 8 hour workdays
Equal pay for genders
Open to all who "toiled" (all worker and most businessmen
Excluded lawyers, bankers, liquor dealers, and professional gamblers
Welcomed women members
Factory workers and domestic servants
Women's Bureau of the Knights
Preservation of federal lands
Improved Safety
Sought to abolish child labor
Workers should have improved safety and an eight hour work day.
1886, Strike on another Gould Railroad
Loosely organized, without much central direction
Met in local "assemblies"
Loosely affiliated with a national general assembly
Equal pay for men and women
Lost memberships and disappeared as and organization
The Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada was founded in 1881
In 1886, they changed their name to the American Federation of Labor (AFL)
Platform of Ideas
Organized/helped organize a number of unions
Constituency / Membership
An association of autonomous craft unions
Represented many skilled workers
Hostile to organizing unskilled workers (they did not fit comfortably within the craft-based structure)
Haymarket Square
Improvement of working conditions
Abolition of Child Labor
Increased worker wages
Amalgamated Association of Iron and steel Workers (temporary success)
Reduction of working hours
Women and the AFL
Homestead Strike
The AFL had conflicting views on women
1884, union won against the Union Pacific Railroad
Haymarket square decreased their members
Pullman Boycott
International Ladies' Garment Workers
They were hostile towards women that worked because they drove down wages for everyone
But, they sought equal pay for women who did work and even hired some female organizers
Rockefeller- owed Colorado Fuel and Iron Company
Both allowed women to work in their organization
National Labor Union - paved the way for the Knights of Labor and the AFL
Railroad Strikes
The great railroad strike in 1877 attracted new members to the KOL
A sucessful strike against Jay Gould's southwestern railway system in 1884 brought in a flood of new members too
However, when the workers struck Gould again in 1886, they were badly beaten
Used collective bargaining, only used strikes as a last resort
Industrial Workers of the World- wanted to achieve "One Big Union"
Haymarket Square
Began in Chicago on May 1, 1886
The AFL and the KOL were both involved in the bombing during a rally on May 4
This triggered a national wave of arrests and repression, causing labor activism to slow
The Knights were particularly blamed for this
Haymarket Square
A bomb that was thrown into a crowd during a rally in Chicago killed 7 police officers and injured 67 other people
The police then fired and killed 4 more people (on top of 4 who they had killed the day before)
**See similarities for more information**
The Homestead Strike
Run by Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (affiliated with the AFL)
Carnegie denied workers the right to negotiate wages, which were continually cut
Henry C. Frick shut down plant in Homestead and called in Pinkerton detective agency
The strikers poured oil into the bay they Pinkertons were sailing on and lit it on fire - started a battle and the strikers won
The National Guard was sent in and the strikers went back to work
Public opinion turned against strikers when the attempted to assassinate Frick
The Amalgamated surrendered and workers became more unskilled and replacable
Keeping goals and expectations simpler than the Knights of Labor
Used strikes and boycotts as often as needed
Full transcript