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Knights of Labor

Union Pacific Railroad Strike

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Union Pacific Railroad Strikes

The Knights of Labor became public after the successful railraod strikes in 1881. The Knights of Lavor won an unplanned strike against Jay Gould's Union Pacific Railroad, forcing it to cancel a 10% wage cut. Not even three months later the railroad workers tied up the line again and halted another wage reduction. (2)

T.V. Powderly was still against strikes, but the rank and file were joining the picket lines. The railroad continued to attempt a 10% wage cut, but was quickly shot down by the Knights of Labor strikes. Five months later, the Union Pacific Wabash line started to fire men active in the Knights' local assemblies. The Knights ordered all its members on Gould's railroads to refuse to repair or handle the rolling stock of his Wabash line. Jay Gould bragged that he could hire one half the working class to kill the other half. This statement was untrue because Gould caved in at the treat because he could not afford a stoppage on 20,000 miles of his rails(2) 

This was victory for the Knights of Labor making them the leaders of the labor movement. After this successful strike against Union Pacific there was a rush to join the order. From 100,000 members in mid-1885, the Knights leaped to 700,000 a year later. (2)

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