A History of Trade Unionism in the United States

By Selig Perlman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
STABILIZATION, 1888-1897

The Great Upheaval of 1886 had, as we saw, suddenly swelled the membership of trade unions; consequently, during several years following, notwithstanding the prosperity in industry, further growth was bound to proceed at a slower rate.

The statistics of strikes during the later eighties, like the figures of membership, show that after the strenuous years from 1885 to 1887 the labor movement had entered a more or less quiet stage. Most prominent among the strikes was the one of 60,000 iron and steel workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the West, which was carried to a successful conclusion against a strong combination of employers. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers stood at the zenith of its power about this time and was able in 1889, by the mere threat of a strike, to dictate terms to the Carnegie Steel Company. The most noted and last great strike of a railway brotherhood was the one of the locomotive engineers on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company. The strike was begun jointly on February 27, 1888, by the brotherhoods of locomotive engineers and locomotive firemen. The main demands were made by the engineers, who asked for the abandonment of the system of classification and for a new wage scale. Two months previously, the Knights of Labor had declared a miners' strike against the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company,

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