The following question is from a longer “test” by Peter Kellman…
In 1886 the largest labor organization in the United States was the Knights of Labor. What issues did they advocate and fight for?
They advocated the creation of producer, consumer and distributive cooperatives; the prohibition of child labor; equal pay for equal work between the sexes and races; universal sufferage; the eight-hour day. And they opposed the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few, reasoning that as long as a few people controlled most of the wealth they would use their economic power politically to prevent the creation of a real democracy.
As a nation, we haven’t learned much. We certainly haven’t acted on that learning. Labor unions increased in strength and power after 1886. Now they are declining. Their decline coincides with a decline in the economic and political power of the middle class, the working class and even those who are without work. A democratic resurgence in this nation requires a strong labor movement – one, however, that is internally democratic, independent from either major political party and willing and able to work in coalition with faith, community and others to create an inclusive social movement seeking to change the players (public officials), plays (laws and regulations) and rules (constitution) of the game. That should be the commitment of all those concerned about labor on this Labor Day weekend.