Chapter 9 Section 4 I. Working in the United States

III. The Struggle to Organize

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III. The Struggle to Organize

A. Workers attempted to create large unions, but rarely succeeded. Many times confrontations between owners and government ended in violence
B. The Great Railroad strike of 1877 occurred after a severe recession in 1873 forced many companies to cut wages. The result was the first nationwide labor protest in Martinsburg, West Virginia, as workers walked off their jobs and blocked tracks. The strike spread until 80,000 railroad workers in 11 states stopped working. Violence erupted. President Hayes ordered the army to stop the strike. In the end, 100 people died and millions of dollars in property were lost.
C. The failure of the great railroad strike led to a need for better organized laborers. By the late 1870s, the first nationwide industrial union called the Knights of Labor was formed. They demanded an eight-hour workday and a government bureau of labor statistics. They also supported equal pay for women, an end to child labor, and worker-owned factories. They supported arbitration, a process where an impartial third party helps mediate between workers and management.

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