Strikes & Labor Unions

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Major Strikes and Labor Unions

Pullman Strike

• _____ Palace Car Company
- Cut wages, increased work day, owner refused to talk to workers
- June 26, 1894 - _____ cars boycotted nationwide,workers refuse to switch _____ cars on to trains and within four days 125,000 workers quit rather than handle ______ cars
• A "Peaceful" Gathering
- June 29, 1894 in Blue Island, Illinois
- what was supposed to be a peaceful meeting with striking workers was
- After the meeting, workers became enraged, they set fire to nearby building and derailed a locomotive
• President Cleveland
- The President finally got involved striking a debate in Congress, President justified involvement by saying that the strike interfered with US mail
- Sends US Marshalls and 12000 soldiers were sent in to break up the strike, Violence ensued
• Results
- 13 strikers dead and 57 strikers wounded
- $340,000 damage (equivalent to around 7 million today)
- Leader of union went to trial and was sentenced to 6 months in jail for violating an injunction to stop the strike
- ______ was eventually forced to diversify ownership of the company town

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877

- Started July 14, 1877 in Martinsburg, WV in n response to wage cutting by Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
- State sent in militia to break the strike but militia would not use forced so the governor called for federal troops
- Strikes spreads over to Maryland and the governor of Maryland sends in National Guard but the citizens attack National Guard
- National Guard kills 10 and wounds 25; rioters attacked back, injure troops, they burned the train station
- Worst violence was in Pittsburgh, local law enforcements refused to fire on the strikers, finally on July 21st militia men bayoneted and fired upon rock throwing strikers
- Strikers retaliated- set fires that destroyed 39 buildings and 104 train cars, forced the militia to shoot their way out, strike also spread to Philadelphia
- Finally President Hayes sent federal troops to end the strike

The 1886 Haymarket Riot

- Started with a peaceful meeting to discuss recent incidents, speeches ended at 10:30 and police began to break up the rally
- Pipe bomb was thrown at police line and one officer was killed, the police opened fire on the crowds, incident lasted 5 minutes
- 60 officers injured,unknown number of civilians hurt, internationally publicized
- 8 anarchists were tried, four men were convicted and executed, one committed suicide in prison, but the prosecution conceded that none of the defendants had thrown the bomb

The 1892 Homestead Strike

- Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AA) - labor union representing skilled iron and steel workers; they organized the Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Works in ___________, PA in 1881
- Won two strikes (1882, 1889) that left a bitter relationship between management and union
- Andrew Carnegie placed Henry Clay Frick in charge of the companies operations, both agreed that AA was hindering the plant's production
- Collective bargaining begin in early 1892,AA asked for a wage increase, Frick countered with a 22% decrease, Carnegie felt that AA only represented a small portion of the workers (800 of 3800)
- June 29th- Frick locked the workers out of the plant, high fence with barbed wire was completed around the plant, sniper towers were put in place, high pressure water cannons (In one night)
- AA met and said that management had closed the plant on day before negotiations were supposed to end, Knights of Labor agreed to picket with AA
- Strikers set up guard posts to keep replacement workers out, the company placed ads for replacements in papers in Boston, St. Louis, and even Europe
- Frick formally requested supervisors have access to the plant, strikers herded officers on to a boat to Pittsburgh
- Frick hired Pinkerton Detective Agency, Pinkertons were placed on barges and armed to sneak in to the plant on the nights of July 5, 1892, plan was discovered and at 2:30 am, thousands of men, women, and children showed up at the plant, Pinkertons attempted to land at 4 am, as Pinkertons tried to disembark, shots were fired
- Firefight lasted 10 minutes, Pinkertons- 2 dead, 14 wounded, Strikers- 2 dead, 11 wounded
- 6 am - 20 pound cannon was brought in to sink the Pinkertons, conflict continues on through the night and into the next day
- Sheriff continues to ask for federal assistance to end the conflict and was denied, at 5 pm, Pinkertons surrenders
- As they were led to the jail, people abused them
- 9 am on July 12 - militia arrived secretly and easily displaced strikers, new employees arrived on July 13, mill opens again on July 15, replacement workers were a temporary fix, Frick needed his original workers back
- Frick was shot and stabbed and survives, this undermines public support for the union

Knights Of Labor

- Led by Terence Powderly, open memberships to women, African-Americans, farmers, mill workers, and miners,closed to "immoral" elements - gamblers, bankers, and stock brokers

• Goals
- 8 hour work day
- Income tax- stability & helps pay for government programs
- Elimination of child labor
- Equal pay for men and women
- Use of collective bargaining as opposed to strikes *(most discussions failed and had to resort to strikes anyway)*

- Successes: won several strikes, made impressive wage gains 1885 -1886
- Problems: Vague and unrealistic goals, unable to control members

American Federation of Labor

- Established by Samuel Gompers in 1886, felt some other unions were too idealistic, members: skilled white male workers in separate craft unions

- Goals: higher wages, safer working, conditions, and the right of the union to represent

- Successes: Large membership (1 million workers by 1901), Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902
- Failures /weaknesses: became too exclusive

International Workers of the World

- Led by Daniel de Leon and Eugene Debs
- Socialist in nature
- Opposed the capitalist system, wanted a more cooperative system
- "abolition of the wage system"
- Workers own the factories and equipment
- Opposed to violent tactics

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