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PinkMonkey Study Guide - American History

7. 6 Rise of the Labor Movement

With the U.S. economy becoming increasingly industrialized, the struggle between labor and factory owners began. Labor Unions were formed to seek better working conditions, better wages and shorter working hours. Before the rise of labor unions, workers toiled for 10-12 hours in factories at miserable wages and inhuman condition in the workplace. The workers, inspite of their racial, religious and linguistic differences, formed the National Labor Union in 1866. This was a federation of trade unions which comprised both skilled and unskilled workers. Its main aim was to get an eight-hour working day and to combat inflation. However, this loosely knit Union collapsed by 1872. In 1869, the Knights of Labor was founded by Uriah Stephens. The working of the organization was kept secret, to keep the management from learning the Unionís plans. In 1879, the organization grew in number. Several successful strikes, especially the strike against the Wabash Railroad strike, made its numbers swell. By 1886, the membership of the Knights shot up to 729, 677. By the end of the century, the influence of the Knights declined.


While the knights declined, a new movement was on the rise. The new labor movement was based on the idea that Unionization should be the means of increasing the workersí bargaining power. So in 1886, Samuel Gompers became the first President of the new labor organization: The American Federation of Labor. By 1892, the membership of the federation touched 250,000.

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Table of Contents

7.0 - Chronology of Major Events
7.1 - The Growth Of Industry
7.2 - Agriculture
7.3 - Settlement In The West And The Indians
7.4 - Rise Of Reform Movements
7.5 - Women's Rights Movement
7.6 - Rise Of The Labour Movement
7.7 - America Becomes A World Power
7.8 - The Spanish-American War
7.9 - Panama Canal
7.10 - Points To Remember

Chapter 8





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