Knight Of Labor Essay

Decent Essays
After the civil war ended, America witnessed its rapid growth in industry, urbanization, and capitalism. When the price of living increased, workers desired for a better wage and working condition. Different types of worker unions appeared in the nation, representing different interests and different groups of workers. The Knight of Labor wanted to include all workers from different background, but it was difficult to organize such a diverse group of workers whose demands and bargaining power were different. The Socialist Party looked for a way to change society fundamentally and emphasized on a class struggle of the working class against the employer class. But they could not solve the problem of wages and working conditions that the workers…show more content…
When AFL began its history in 1886, it consisted of 150,000 members and 25 Labor groups of skilled workers who had exclusive jurisdiction within a specific craft, charged relatively high dues, and maintained ample funds to finance a strike” (WBA p.113). Since the members had a specific craft and had the capability of funding their strikes, they had greater leverage than other workers in negotiation with employers and even in legislation transformation. Their good and rational organization of the union is also crucial to its success. The central authority did not interrupt the organization of local member unions. They emphasized the autonomy of craft union, which gave a lot freedom for local unions to deal with their problems according to their different conditions. Since a big cause of union’s breaking apart and failure of the strikes was divers memberships and the difficulty to balance different interests among a union. When craft unions could organize by themselves, the conflict of interest could be avoided a lot. Moreover, in their organization, member unions could call for sympathy strike. Other workers…show more content…
AFL were unwilling to participate in a lot political activities to transform the function of society. Instead, AFL adjusted to the real social conditions and focused on the immediate need of labors. After economic depression, the price of the living grew dramatically. Workers eagerly escaped from the increased poverty and wanted to have a shorter working hour. AFL “reflected [its] ability among the proponents of the “new unionisms” to distinguish what was immediately attainable from what was ultimately desirable. It also flowed from their belief that ultimate end could never be won in the absence of stable organizations that satisfied the urgent needs of their members” (SR p.235). The federation had a rational view on the social condition and put emphasis on the members. In local unions, AFL organized successful strikes to get what workers wanted. In a national scale, it could call for more general program to push the labor movement. Moreover, if its every action was practical and adjusted to the social condition, AFL could efficiently make a change with the employers. Labors would prefer AFL rather than other unions because their needs can be satisfied. Unless a union satisfied its members’ demand, the union could not last for a longer time and get more support to expand
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