Industrial unionism is socialism with its working clothes on.
-- William Haywood
Not all scholars or labor activists would go as far as "Big Bill" Haywood in their claims about industrial unions, but most would agree that unions that unite skilled and less-skilled workers in the same local usually strengthen members' sense of working-class solidarity and that locals restricted to a single occupation or skill level tend to reinforce sectional identities. For less-skilled workers, industrial forms of association also offer clear advantages because they provide greater negotiating strength and collective resources than sectional associations. And from the vantage point of this book, industrial forms of organization are one clear marker of alliances across the skill divide.1.
In this chapter I examine the organizing strategies adopted by Knights assemblies that included less-skilled workers. I distinguish two such strategies: a quasi-industrial strategy of offering membership to both skilled and less-skilled workers, and a sectional strategy of organizing unskilled and semiskilled workers but not craft workers. I ask whether there are systematic differences in the conditions that encouraged one organizing strategy rather than the other.
One purpose of pursuing this question is to clarify the effects of existing craft organization on the unionization of less-skilled workers____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Making of American Exceptionalism:The Knights of Labor and Class Formation in the Nineteenth Century. Contributors: Kim Voss - Author. Publisher: Cornell University Press. Place of publication: Ithaca, NY. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 174.
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