Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/44

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

members, at least three quarters of whom must be wage workers; and this proportion shall be maintained for all time." District Assemblies were composed of the Local Assemblies in a locality and had jurisdiction over them. The General Assembly of the K. of L. of N. A. was the highest tribunal, and had full and final jurisdiction in all matters.

149. Did the K. of L. strive for class organization along class lines?
Evidently not. If it had, it would have confined membership to those who work for wages. Under the provision that those "who at any time (had) worked for wages" John D. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Schwab, and other capitalists could qualify as members. Moreover, the provision that local assemblies be composed of three-fourths wage workers implies that the other fourth need not be wage laborers. The K. of L. in its beginnings, was the direct opposite of the separate autonomous trade union, though later on it was proven not to be averse to such modifications as would permit trade unions to form out of the "sojourners" within its own ranks. The adoption of this course was forced upon it by the rivalry of the A. F. of L., which had come into existence in Pittsburgh, in 1881, as the Federated Trades Unions of the United States and Canada, afterward the American Federation of Labor.
150. When did the K. of L. take national shape?
Following the Reading (Pa.) convention in 1878, which provided for a national central body—The General Assembly—to which all parts of the organization were subordinate.
151. Along what lines did the K. of L. propose to advance the interest of the workers?
By the use of economic action, education, and co-operation. As it grew, it found itself involved in many strikes. The Resistance Fund, raised by a per capita tax of 5 cents per month, which it had originally intended to devote to co-operative enterprises and educational purposes, was used to finance strikes. Many attempts were made to commit the K. of L. to a political program in the years of its earliest importance, but it was shy of politics at that time.

45