Unions

Unions

The first large national labor organization to become popular was the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor. Garment workers in Philadelphia who believed that one union of skilled and unskilled workers should exist founded it in 1869. (Merkel 34) The leader of the knights was a garment cutter as well a former Baptist minister named Uriah Stephens who later resigned in the early 1800s and Terence V. Powerdly took over (Merkel 36) The Knights spoke of ? harmonizing the interests of capital and labor,? and had little faith in strikes or in the struggle for wage increases and shorter hours. (Lens 37) The union was originally a secret, but later was open to all skilled and non-skilled workers, blacks, women, and farmers. Five hundred thousand workers joined in a year. By 1886 more than 700,000 joined. (Lens 37) Their goals were an eight-hour work day, a minimum wage, arbitration rather than strikes, health and safety laws, equal pay for equal work, no child labor under the age of fourteen, and government ownership of railroads, telegraphs and telephones. However, the Knights of Labor was a relatively weak organization, and eventually fell apart. One of the knight?s biggest

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