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Knights of Labor - an American Labor Movement

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Knights of Labor - An American Labor Movement

Stephen Paul Mader Jr.

Park University


I have learned that gratitude is the best medicine for all stressors in life. I have come to learn how to appreciate what I have, rather than worry about what I think I want. In order to come to a state of mind that, I believe, could heal all Americans; I needed to learn what those who have gone before me did so I can see what I have. In terms of employment and rights of workers my favorite study thus far has been the Knights of Labor. The Knights fought for rights in a way that was far more advanced for their time and has inspired me to revisit their ideology. In short the Knights of Labor were a union trying to harmonize employees and management so that everyone enjoyed a better life. Today I can enjoy a better life from some of the efforts of the Knights.

Knights of Labor - An American Labor Movement

The greatest instruments we have in support of analyzing the effects of unionism begin in the 19th century. The National Labor Union was founded in 1866 but only lasted six years although it was enough to motivate the labor movement to form a single federation. On December 1869, seven members of the Philadelphia tailors' union, headed by Uriah Smith Stephens and James L. Wright, established a secret union under the name, the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor. During the 1870's the economy was going through harsh times with high unemployment rates and wage reductions. Strikes were popping up throughout the country and deaths were resulting from their violence. The National Labor Union collapsed in '73 which brought about even more disorder. The effects of these mayhems are today known as the Great Uprising of 1877; a social earthquake.

One union that survived the depression of the Great Uprising is considered to be the most honorable and peaceful; the Knights of Labor. This paper is intended to demonstrate what the Knights of Labor have done that resulted in the greatest labor movement still being fought to this date. One major effect unions provide that benefit both the firm and the workers is a sense of community. According to Cynthia Estlund's Working Together: How workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy, she states, "Similarly, collective voice mechanisms like unions can enhance a democratic society by promoting workplace interactions among workers from diverse backgrounds." The Catholic Church advocates for labor unions as a vehicle for improving working conditions



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