Intense and Violent Labor Conflicts in the 1870s

Pages: 3 (811 words) Published: September 19, 2007
The 1870's brought about a period of intense and violent labor conflicts that continued until the 20th century. The labor conflicts caused the Great Uprising of 1877. The uprising is known for what it represents to the formation of unions during this era. The strikes during this period reflect the suppressed grievances of industrial workers, and the struggle between labor and capital. The Knights of Labor was a union during this time that strived to achieve better working conditions for the members of its union. "A primary concern of the Knights of Labor was the moral worth, not just the material wealth of a person" (Budd, 2008, p. 112). The demise of the Knights of Labor came about with the Haymarket Tragedy, where they tried to obtain the eight hour workday. It turned out to be a violent conflict that caused deaths of police officers. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was created "in response to the perceived failure of the Knights of Labor's leadership to address everyday working issues" (Budd, 2008, p. 115). Out of frustration from the lack of representation in the Knights of Labor, the AFL was created. It represented 25 national unions. The AFL was the first federation of unions that became a support organization for the member unions. The AFL used the business unionism philosophy, which emphasized immediate improvements for the members of the unions via collective bargaining and strikes. However, the AFL was also a craft unionism. The only members of the unions were skilled crafts, such as painters, carpenters, machinists, cigar makers, and iron molders. "The structure of the AFL unions was further guided by the principle of exclusive jurisdiction which meant that there would be one and only one craft per union" (Budd, 2008, p. 117). The years to follow would bring skilled workers in some control over their work and helpers. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was formed out of frustration over the AFL's conservative behavior towards...

References: Budd, John W. (2008). Historical Development. Labor Relations: Striking a Balance (2nd ed.)(pp. 105-152). New York: McGraw-Hill.
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