Laborers on fruit farms near Chattanooga received a pay raise to 5.50 per ton after striking for two months. Strikes became much more common throughout the 1870s and early 1880s with the organization of labor, such as the Knights of Labor and the forerunner of the American Federation of Labor,' which was founded in 1881. The Knights of Labor, for one, did not necessarily present an innovative response to the problems of industrial America,' but rather a continuation of the antebellum reform trend,' according to historian Melton McLaurin. They sought to return laborers to the proprietary status' they held previously. Though Knights of Labor leaders generally opposed strikes, Southern locals frequently ignored this policy, which McLaurin argues contributed to the ultimate demise of the organization. In addition to the actions of farm laborers, railroad strikes were commonplace, and though the South had previously been insulated from labor organization to some extent, the Chattanooga strike indicates that this was changing by 1881.
Louisville Courier-Journal, April 2, 1881, 2.
Kent College of Illinois Labor Hisotry Society, "A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers", Illinois Labor History Society, http://http:www.kentlaw.edu (accessed October 11, 2005).