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The Haymarket was a strike to go against wage reduction. They fought for better pay, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The physical confrontation between police and industrial activists in Chicago on May 4th, 1886 had been a symbol of the multinational dispute for the rights of workers. There were four strikers that were killed by the police force. A rally in Haymarket Square to protest the killings. Someone whose identity was never determined threw a bomb into the crowd which killed a police man. The police panicked after the bomb and opened fire, shooting bystanders and even some of their own force. Police raided the offices of labor and radical groups and arrested their leaders. Employers took the opportunity of the Haymarket Affair to start the labor movement.
The Railroad Strike was about workers protesting a lay cut that paralyzed rail traffic. The militia units tried to force them back to work. But the troops had to shoot at the people when they didn’t and they ended up killing about 20 people. The workers responded to this by burning city railroad yards, destroying millions of dollars in property.
The Knights of Labor formed in Philadelphia in 1869 as a private tailors ‘ society. During the dark years of the 1870s, the organization grew slowly, but worker militancy rose against the end of the decade, especially after the great railroad strike of 1877, and membership of the Knights increased with it. They were the very first group to try and make unskilled workers as well as skilled, men and women, and even black and whites into one group to work towards a goal. By 1886, the group had about 800,000 members and involved millions of workers in boycotts, strikes, political actions, etc.
Initially, employees wanted unions mainly for defensive purposes, basically to defend against what they see as arbitrary decisions, such as abrupt wage cuts, lay-offs or firings.They also want a way of forcing management to improve what they find to be unsafe working conditions or excessively long hours. More importantly, they want more security, which ultimately means a contract which lasts for a specified time period. The early trade unionists in the United States, as we shall see, just wanted the same kind of rights at work they already had as individual individuals. And if it does grow strong then they will try to ask for higher wages.
The march of progress eventually prevailed and the quicker, more powerful machinery soon took their place in the field.Founded in 1869, the Knights of Labor union brought the movement to a new level, attracting a large membership. The Knights’ mission was to include everyone involved in production, which helped to expand its numbers. Under Terence Powderly’s leadership the union was well organized.
Things took a turn for the worse in 1886, when the Haymarket riot saw the Knights ‘ message tainted by a police officer’s death in a bomb blast. Eventually the public opinion turned against the communist movement and the union dissolved. It was only after the advent of the American Federation of Labor, founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers and functioning as a national union federation for skilled workers.
In the Industrial Age many new jobs were created for women. Around 1880 and 1900, the number of women employed climbed from 2.6 million to 8.6 million. Four percent of clerical staff were women in 1880, the estimate was 50 percent by 1920, but women were unable to gain management positions. Even though married middle-class women were able to stay at home, they had to work amongst the poor, women— and children. Also, manufacturing safety was a major issue. Work at the factories was very dangerous, and it was almost impossible to make factory owners responsible for death and/or injury. Around 25,000-35,000 deaths and 1 million accidents occurred per annual income in the early 1900s.
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