Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/52

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official family threw cold water upon the idea. The leading figures in the A. F. of L. were lukewarm. Had the spirit that animated the rank and file of organized labor in both camps been shared by the officials, a great deal more could have been done than was accomplished. Only a fraction of what was possible was secured. Moreover, the seed of enmity and resentment was planted in the minds of the workers, and a crop of prejudices had grown up amongst them that smothered their class instincts and prevented that toleration of opinion upon which working class progress must depend.

167. Why should such an organization die while the A. F. of L. survives?
If you are an employer it is likely that you would prefer not to have an organization in your establishment which would embarass you and compel you to grant concessions that in its absence you would not even deign to consider. It is more than likely that you would give a great deal to be rid of it. Now, when the K. of L. brought Jay Gould to terms it demonstrated that labor solidarity was equal to the power to the strongest corporations of the time. This exhibition of power was regarded by the capitalist class as a menace to be removed. That which offers hope to labor is always a menace to the employing class. Now, the capitalists saw a contemporaneous organization of workers which behaved itself in an entirely different manner. So they were prompt to take advantage of the situation. They used the A. F. of L. unions to stab the Knights of Labor in the back. This tactic of the employers inaugurated the era when the charges were hurled back and forth between the organizations that each was scabbing upon the other. The desire for membership upon the part of both was at the bottom of this suicidal conduct. The A. F. of L. temporarily enjoyed the favor of the capitalists as their choice of the least of two evils. By the time the Knights of Labor was hors de combat the A. F. of L. bore the brand of capitalist agent burned deeply and inefaceably into it.
168. Has not the American Federation of Labor overcome some of the difficulties that beset earlier union attempts?
It has survived for over forty years, but has done so