hile craft workers were
striving to improve their situation in a changing environment, many other
workers were simply trying to survive. By the late nineteenth century, faced
with poor pay, long hours and the risk of serious injury or loss of life on
the job, general labourers welcomed the support of the Knights of Labor, a
new union that initiated assemblies (union locals) and defended their
Although the success of the Knights was short-lived, it provided an
example for other labour unions concerned with protecting workers' rights.
These organizations helped bring about changes that improved conditions for
those workers who had the least amount of influence, including women,
children and immigrants.