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Running the RailsCapital and Labor in the Philadelphia Transit Industry$
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James Wolfinger

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702402

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702402.001.0001

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Working on the Line

Working on the Line

(p.40) 2 Working on the Line
Running the Rails

James Wolfinger

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers Philadelphia's transit workers: their daily work, their relations with the system's owners, and their early efforts at unionization. Transit workers faced harsh conditions on the job and for their efforts received low pay and little respect. To improve their lot, they turned to organized labor, first with the Knights of Labor and then the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees—“the Amalgamated,” a member of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Overall, Philadelphia's transit workers found strong support among working-class residents of the city, but they lived in a difficult era marked by widespread class conflict, state repression, and organized corporate power embodied most conspicuously by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Keywords:   Philadelphia, transit workers, unionization, Knights of Labor, Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees, American Federation of Labor, National Association of Manufacturers

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