Organized But to a certain extant, the Knights’

Organized labor somewhat advanced during the Gilded Age. The United States economy revolved around factories at the time, where workers formed unions. Organized labor was seen by the formation of unions like the Knights of Labor, who sought to include all races, ethnicities, occupations, and genders. While the Knights were successful at first, they eventually fell due to internal issues. After they fell, the American Federation of Labor was formed, and it was composed of many different unions with AFL as the leader. As labor unions grew, more strikes occurred- for example, the Homestead Strike against a steel plant saw the company fighting back. While the number of strikes grew, however, not all of the, were effective. The Gilded Age saw organized labor somewhat advancing their interests through the formation of unions, the evolution of unions, and demonstrations such as strikes by the unions.In the decade following the railroad strike, unions grew rapidly. One example of the growth of organized labor in the Gilded Age was the Knights of Labor. They lobbied for eight-hour days and child labor restrictions. In the late 1800’s, the Knights grew rapidly and were successful. The Knights walked out to protest the Wabash railroad, resulting in the entire Southwest System being shut down and the Wabash was forced to negotiate with its workers. But to a certain extant, the Knights’ success also the caused their demise. While more and more people joined, less people were willing to perform protests like walking out and going on strike.  Additionally, when an eight-hour-day rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square turned violent, all supporters of the eight-hour day were blamed. It wasn’t clear who was responsible for the bomb, but all labor organizations, including the Knights of Labor, were found guilty by association.  So while the Knights of Labor were successful in achieving their goal, in the end they weakened due to member disunity.


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