What Have Unions Done For Us? A Series of Articles In Celebration of May Day 2012



As part of the preparing for May Day: International Workers’ Day, the WKLC presents the following on the theme of ‘What Have Unions Done For Us’. 






Uploaded by UnionStrategies on Feb 2, 2012 Visit http://www.unionstrategiesinc.com In this exciting new series, Dr. Stephanie Ross of York University decimates the right-wing media spin about organized labour in North America. While many pundits tell us that unions are a thing of the past, in reality, their presence is desperately needed in a majority non-union workforce.



Part 1. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) looks at one of the incidents that gave rise to International Workers Day–May 1 or Mayday. The video only deals with the Haymarket Square confrontation with police and the aftermath where eight labor leaders were charged with murder. Four were hanged, one committed suicide and three had their sentences commuted. Labor organizers had called a national strike for an eight-hour work day on May 1, 1886. In Chicago, workers held a parade and rally with over 80,000 participants. On May 3, 1886, striking employees of the McCormick Reaper Works clashed with replacement workers. Police retaliated against the striking employees, killing two. On May 4th, 1886, a rally of anarchists and labor activists in Chicago’s Haymarket Square in support of the McCormick strikers turned deadly. An unknown assailant tossed a bomb into a throng of riot police who were advancing on the rally, killing one instantly. In the chaos that erupted, seven policemen were killed, sixty injured, and civilian casualties were likely as high. The eight men were arrested and charged with murder at Haymarket. Though they all opposed Chicago’s elite businessmen, whom they believed stood for “starvation of the masses, privileges and luxury for the few,” the eight held very different ideas about what action to take. Some advocated change through violence, while others believed progress could come via social engineering. Despite their different beliefs, the trial, convictions and sentencing that followed would unite these “Haymarket Eight” in history. At a convention of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1888 the union decided to campaign for the eight-hour day once again. May 1, 1890 was agreed upon as the date on which workers would strike for an eight-hour work day and to commemorate the earlier fight for an eight hour day. In 1889 AFL president Samuel Gompers wrote to the first congress of the Second International, which was meeting in Paris. He informed the world’s socialists of the AFL’s plans and proposed an international fight for a universal eight-hour work day. In response to Gompers’s letter the Second International adopted a resolution calling for “a great international demonstration” on a single date so workers everywhere could demand the eight-hour work day. In light of the Americans’ plan, the International adopted May 1, 1890 as the date for this demonstration. It has been celebrated around the world as Mayday–International Workers Day– ever since.


Uploaded by atila141 on Jan 11, 2010 I made this movie for my AP US History Project in 2009. This is a movie about the Knights of Labor, a labor union in the late 1800s. Though they were short lived, they achieved lots of success. Bibliography Catholic University of America. “Forging the Bonds of Sympathy: The Catholic Church and the Knights of Labor.” The American Catholic History Classroom. http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/knights/kol_wel.html (accessed March 18, 2007) Conell, Caroll, and Kim Voss. “Formal Organization and the Fate of Social Movements: Craft Association and Class Alliance in .” American Sociological Review 55, no. 2 (April 1990): 255-269 . http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095631 (accessed January 11, 2010). Fink, Leon. “The New Labor History and the Powers of Historical Pessimism: Consensus, Hegemony, and the Case of the Knights of Labor .” The Journal of American History 75, no. 2 (June 1988): 115-136. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1889657 (accessed January 11, 2010). Fink, Leon. Workingmen’s Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics. Champaign, Ill: University of Illinois Press, 1983. Foner, Philip S. History of the Labor Movement in the United States. Vol. 1: From Colonial Times to the Founding of the American Federation of Labor. New York: International Publishers, 1947. Grob, Gerald N. “The Knights of Labor and the Trade Unions.” The Journal of Economic History 18, no. 2 (June 1958): 176-192 . http://www.jstor.org/stable/2115102 (accessed January 11, 2010). Kaufman, Jason. “Rise and Fall of a Nation of Joiners: The Knights of Labor Revisited .” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 31, no. 4 (Spring 2001): 553-579. http://www.jstor.org/stable/206859 (accessed January 11, 2010). Kessler, Sidney H. “The Organization of Negroes in the Knights of Labor .” The Journal of Negro History 37, no. 3 (July 1952): 248-276 . http://www.jstor.org/stable/2715493 (accessed January 11, 2010). Kemmerer, Donald L, and Edward D Wickersham. “Reasons for the Growth of the Knights of Labor in 1885-1886 .” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 3, no. 2: 213-220. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2518830 (accessed January 11, 2010). Levine, Susan. “Labor’s True Woman: Domesticity and Equal Rights in the Knights of Labor .” The Journal of American History 70, no. 2 (September 1983): 323-339. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1900207 (accessed January 11, 2010). Weir, Robert E. Beyond labor’s veil: the culture of the Knights of Labor. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Wright, Carroll D. “An Historical Sketch of the Knights of Labor .” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 1, no. 2 (January 1887): 137-168. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1880768 (accessed January 11, 2010).


Uploaded by alexpet25 on Jul 24, 2011 Watch my 7th grade, 10-minute documentary on the Irish Coal Miners of Pennsylvania, and how a major conflict in history was compromised in the late 1800s. Includes photos taken by me in actual locations, along with personal interviews conducted by me.

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