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Topic 2: Workers

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    Terence Powderly life

    Chosen as "Grand Master Workman" in 1879 of the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor. He led to the rally of an 8-hour workday, equal pay for women, and abolition of child labor.
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    Samuel Gompers life

    He was president of AFL from 1886 to 1924. He was born in London and rose through the ranks of cigar maker's unio. He believed in "pure and simple" unionism- rejected sweeping assaults, called for concrete benefits. Under his leadership, AFL membership swelled from 140,000 to a million by 1900.
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    Jacob Coxey life

    He was a wealthy quarry owner from Ohio. On Easter Sunday 1894 with his wife and infant son "Legal Tender", he led 500 unemployed men, women, and children to Washington, where they planned to present government leadesr with a "petition with boots on" to support the public works program of road building. The press covered the march. Police arrested him at the Capitol for trespassing on the grass. He called for government aid to the unemployed.
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    Eugene Debs life

    He was an official of the locomotive firemen's union. He led the ARU to forge a powerful alliance between all railroad workers. The Tribune called him a drunken tyrant who endangered Chicago citizens by striking and delaying their mail. He was thrown in jail, without a jury trial. This would infuriate John Peter Atgeld and worry many people.
    He united the Socialist Party and ran for president twice.
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    Frederick W. Taylor life

    He pioneered "scientific management"- using "time-motion studies", he determined the simplest, cheapest ways of performing each job. He introduced the subdivision of manufacturing into small, monotonous tasks.
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    Knights of Labor

    Formally: "The Noble Order of the Knights of Labor"
    in 1879, Powderly was chosen as the "Grand Master Workman"
    They called for a 8-hour workday, equal pay for women, and abolition of child labor. He opposed strikes.
    In 1884, they won a victory against Union Pacific Railroad.
    In 1885, they won a victory against Southwestern Railroad.
    By 1886, they had 15,000 local assemblies.
    Barred Chinese workers.
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    Great Railroad Strike

    The nation's 4 largest railroads announced a 10% cut in worker salaries. Angry workers across the country protested. In July, President Hayes sent federal troops to quell Martinsburg, West Virginia. This angered protesters more. Over a hundred died in the end and property damages amounted into the millions. In the short run, workers were humiliated, management refused their demands, and many ended in jail. However, national attention was focused on the legit concerns of the workers.
  • "That a deep-rooted feeling of discontent pervades the masses, none can deny"- Powderly

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    American Federation of Labor

    Composed of conservative trade unionists.
    They believed in fighting for tangible benefits like higher wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions. It was a federation of skilled trades. It abandoned its efforst to unionize women.
  • Haymarket Square Incident

    In Feb 1886, the McCormick reaper works locked out its employees and reopened in March with nonunion labor. May 3, two unionists were killed by the police. A group of anarchists (violent overthrow of the capitalist system) met the following dat at Haymarket, for a peaceful protest. When police came, someone threw a bomb, and at the end one policeman died and 60 people were injured. All 8 tried men for the bomb were convicted. People linked trade unionism with anarchy, and the movement was ended.
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    Homestead Strike

    Workers objected to the Andrew Carnegie's steel plant in Homestead, PA, company plan to raise wages, so manager Henry Clay Frick ordered lockout and hired 300 strikebreakers from Pinkerton National Detective Agency and build a barbed wire fence around the plant. July 6, Pinkertons tried to sneak into the plant, workers were on 24 hr watch, all day battle, workers won. Frick hired 8000 state militia troops and hired new workers.
  • Depression of 1893

    Started by collapse of railroad overbuilding, employees were laid off, wages were cut, and factories closed. There were 1,400 strikes this first year. It caused economix turmoil and led to Coxey's march to the capital.
  • Pullman Strike

    Pullman Palace Car Company was laying off a large portion of its workers, but it did not reduce the rent it charged workers. In June the ARU voted to boycott all Pullman cars. Mail was delayed. Troops on July 4 led to violence, Debs was put in jail.
  • IWW founded

    Most radical group founded in Chicago by radical unionists and political leaders, led by Big Bill Haywood. It envisioned a utopian state run by workers. It embraced society's outcasts. They joined forces with progressives in 1912 for higher wages for textile workers in Lawrence, MA. They earned only suspicion from middle-class Americans. They never compromised radical principles, but as a result failed to achieve mass support of American workers.