Sunday, October 27, 2013

The IWW and Class Warfare in the Early 20th Century

I. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

A. Founding

1. The Continental Congress of the Working Class--The IWW was founded at a meeting of political and labor radicals in Chicago in 1905. Attendees at the meeting included Eugene V. Debs, Daniel DeLeon, Helen Gurley Flynn, and Mother Jones. Perhaps the most important attendee was the vice-president of the Western Federation of Miners, William D. "Big Bill" Haywood, however. Haywood not only chaired the meeting, but also represented the largest contingent of workers in the now organization

2. Western Federation of Miners--The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) was founded in 1893, founded by groups of miners in the west. Whereas the UMW represented largely coal miners, the WFM represented a lot of  "hard-rock" miners, those mining minerals, in the region. As did the UMW, the WFM attempted to organize not only miners, but also surface workers; eventually, the WFM transformed itself into the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers.

a. Bloody conflicts between the WFM and mine operators--in particular in the Cripple Creek strike of 1903-1904, when the full weight of the state of Colorado was used to crush the strike, the WFM determined that they needed radical allies.

3. Left-wing factionalism--besides the WFM contingent, the founding convention also featured the two leading socialiss of the time, Eugene V. Debs and Daniel DeLeon. DeLeon was know for his hostility toward the AFL; Gompers was a "labor fakir" and "the greasy tool of Wall Street," while the AFL was "a cross between a windbag and a rope of sand." This hostility, however, also was oftentimes evinced against other leftist who had differing opinions from DeLeon's, as well. The Debs' faction evolved into the Socialist Party of American (SPA), which became the largest most radical political party, while DeLeon was forced out of the IWW in 1906.

4. "Big Bill" Haywood--among the variety of humanity at the convention, the person who became the most important to the IWW was the chair of the meeting, William Haywood. A rugged hulk of a man, Haywood was well-known for his sinister appearance, in part the result of a boyhood whittling accident. Haywood followed the footsteps of both his mather and his stepfather by entering the mining profession at the ripe old age of 14. His belief that "the working-class and the owning class have nothing in common" was shaped by his early personal experience.

a. Boyhood in Utah--Haywood's father died of pneumonia when Haywood was just 3 years old, leaving him and his mother destitute. The economic situation of the family improved only slightly when she re-married; Haywood entered the mines at the age of 14 because of family need.

b. Haywood also attempted to make a go of it as a homesteading farmer after his marriage, but lost his claim when the US government seized the property (with no compensation) to make an Indian reservation.

5. Cripple Creek--During an organizing drive in the goldfields southwest of Denver in 1903, the WFM was attempting to organize miners, smelter workers, and reduction workers near Cripple Creek. A couple instances of minor violence (whether instigated by strikers or agents of the mine owners is under dispute), the governor of Colorado agreed to call out the militia--over the local sheriff's objections. Insisting that the state could not afford to keep the militia on duty for an extended period of time, the governor insisted--and local mine owners agreed--that the mining companies would pay for the militia. This led to the wholesale arrest and deportation of strike leaders and other "trouble-makers," without trial or even charges being brought forward. From this experience, the WFM leadership concluded that radical allies would be needed.

B. The Spirit of the Wobblies--The IWW had the greatest appeal to itinerant workers of the West--mainly miners, workers on construction gangs, and migratory harvest hands, among others. IWW organizers also had some success immigrant workers in steel mill, packing plants, and textile mills.

1. Free speech fights--IWW members gained some noteriety in cities in the west for their insistence upon exercising their rights to free speech--clambering on top of soapboxes on sidewalks to rail against the evils of capitalism. For these acts, members were hauled off to jail, beaten, fed rancid food, and sentenced to inordinately long jail terms--which induced hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of other members to come to town to join their comrades.

2. The Man Who Never Died--Joel Emmanual Hagglund, sometimes known as Joe Hillstrom, but best known as Joe Hill, is best remembered today as the bard of the IWW, the most popular songwriter of an organization known for its love of song. Hill was executed in 1914, convicted of a murder the evidence suggested he never committed.

3. 1916 Everett Massacre--IWW organizers working with shingle fanners in Everett, Washington were run out of town by a "Citizens Alliance" (sponsored, of course, by shingle manufacturers), some 300 Wobblies returned determined to again exercise their First Amendment rights. The men boarded two ferry boats, and sailed back across Puget Sound from Seattle to Everett. Upon their arrival, the sheriff called out, "Who is your leader?" The Wobblies replied en masse "We are all leaders!"--whereupon, the shore party opened fire, killing at least five and perhaps as many as 12.

4. 1917 Bisbee Deportation--in July 1917, after the IWW called a strike against the Phelp-Dodge Mining Company which had refused to bargain with the union (and 80 percent of the workers walked off the job), company officials and company allies (and there were plenty, since Bisbee was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Phelps-Dodge) rounded up strikers and strike sympathizers and transported them--against their consent--from Arizona to a deserted spot about 20 miles east of Columbus, New Mexico, leaving them in the desert their with no food or water.

Labor and the Progressive Movement

I. Employers and Unions: A New Understanding

A. The Imperial Impulse--The War With Spain

1. The War for Capitalist Markets

2. The Response of Euguene Debs and the Socialists

3. The Response of Samuel Gompers and the AFL

B. The National Civic Federation

1. Early History

2. Make-up of the National Civic Federation

3. Samuel Gompers and John Mitchell

II. Role of Coal

A. Stoking the Fires of Capitalism

1. Railroads--coal provided the fuel for locomotives--but it was also instrumental in the manufacture of most railroad-related material, including the manufacture of the locomotives it powered, the rolling stock these locomotives pulled, and the rails that the trains ran on.

2. Skyscrapers--coal was instrumental in making the structural steel that allowed for the transformation of architecture, and the creation of the urban landscape as we know it.

3. Automobiles--coal was also instrumental in producing the main product that was responsible for effecting the emergence of another fossil fuel that dominated American life during most of the 20th century.

B. Growth of Coal Mining in the  19th Century

1. 1840--7,000 men were employed in mining coal in the United  States,  who mined 2 million tons
2. 1870--186,000 coal miners mined 37 million tons.
3. 1900--677,000 coal miners mined 350 million tons

C. Transformation of American life--coal powered the technological  change the transformed American life in the second half of the 19th century  and the first two decades of the 20th.

D. Capitalist enterprise in coal

1.  Intensification of capital--at the beginning of the 20th, the coal industry began a period of consolidation. In Colorado, for example, two companies, Victor Coal Company and Colorado Fuel and Iron (owned by the Rockefellers) mined most of the coal in that state.

2. Early stage of consolidation--in 1900, no one company owned more than 3% of the national market; but of America's 100 largest companies, a dozen were mining companies.

II. Life of Mother Jones

A. Mary Harris

1. Discrepancies in her life story

a. Birth date--According to Autobiography of Mother Jones, she was born May 1, 1830. According to her baptismal certificate in Cork, she was baptized in August of 1837. Her parents were not married until 1835. What explains this discrepancy? Although she was not as old as she claimed, she was advanced in years at the time this book was written, which may have effected her memory. As May 1 became identified with the labor movement, what could be more appropriate than the mother of the labor movement claiming that day as the one of her birth, as well? Her advanced age rendered her activities more weight, and allowed her to transcend the limitations that most women had to operate under during this time period.

2. Immigration

a. Potato Famine – it is likely that Mother Jones’ father and older brother left during the Potato Famine (1845-1847); between 1845 and 1853, over 200,000 people a year left Ireland for another country.

b. Immigration to Canada – it is likely that her father immigrated directly to Canada from Ireland—passage was less expensive the year he most likely left; in the 1850 US Federal Census he is listed in Vermont, but the family resided in Toronto, Canada.

3. Education – she attended a normal (teaching) college, but did not finish.

4. Pre-marriage work--Teacher at convent school in Monroe, Michigan. She also worked as a seamstress in Chicago. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, Jones moved and became a school teacher in Memphis, TN

B. Mary Harris Jones

1. Married George Jones – in 1861, shortly after moving to Memphis, Mother Jones met and married iron molder and union member George Jones.

2. Raising a family – the Jones’ shortly had four children in their brief marriage, three girls and a boy

3. 1867 Yellow Fever Epidemic--Mary Jones lost all four children and her husband to the epidemic

4. Move back to Chicago--and worked as seamstress

5. Great Chicago Fire 1871

6. Period between 1871-1894 – the mystery period in the life of Mother Jones

7. 1877 Great Upheaval – may have been in Chicago, put she was not a leading figure in the strikes in Chicago as she claimed (probably a part of her persona).

8. 1886 Haymarket Square – although she disdains the politics of the Chicago anarchists, she upholds them as men of ideals, to be emulated

9. 1894 Coxey’s Army – her first real appearance as Mother Jones; she is part of an advance party for a western band of unemployed who are marching east to join up with Jacob Coxey for his march on Washington.

C. The Emergence of Mother Jones-- Mother Jones is able to use her age and gender to her advantage; because of her age she is able to act in ways that other women are restricted from.

1. Appeal to Reason – socialist newspaper which Mother Jones helped get off the ground; eventually had 750,000 subscribers, and often reached many more readers.

2. Radical political ideas appealed to a great number of people during this time period.

III. United Mine Workers

A. Founded-- January 1890, struggled to remain in existence during that decade, having to overcome a disastrous strike in 1894.

B. 1897 Central Competitive Field Strike--the Central Competitive Field stretched from western Pennsylvania to central Illinois. The strike began July 4,  1897 in response to attempts to implement a wage cut. The strike lasted until January 1898, but ended  in a union victory--a pay raise,  8-hour day, dues check-off, and union recognition.  The settlement also benefited operators, because the settlement helped end the cutthroat competition.

C. 1897 Eastern Pennsylvania Anthracite  Strike--miners in the anthracite district, not members of the UMW, went on strike because of wage cuts.  A  group of 200 marched  to a mine in Lattimer,  Pennsylvania to call miners there to join the strike; mine guards shot into the group, killing 19 miners.

D. John Mitchell--the UMW president, believed that the National Civic Federation was key for settling labor disputes--which is why he accepted the deal brokered by President Roosevelt that ended the strike without the anthracite operators recognizing the union as sole bargaining agent for the miners. Jones, on the other hand, argued that workers could only rely upon themselves, and the power they could claim by withholding their labor.

6. George F. Baer and the Divine Rights of Money

7. Theodore Roosevelt and the Strike Settlement

D. Women Workers and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

E. Ludlow

1. Coal Mining in Colorado

2. Coal Industry and Colorado Politics

3. The Colorado Coalfield War

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The "Pure and Simple Unionsim" of the American Federation of Laboir

Samuel Gompers, ca. 1890

A)     Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Union (FOTLU) – founded in 1881 as an umbrella organization of craft unions, one of whose leaders was the young president of the Cigar Makers International Union, an Dutch-English immigrant Jew named Samuel Gompers (who transforms this organization into the American Federation of Labor—AFL—in 1886, because of his interpretation of events after Haymarket).

1)      Samuel Gompers--later in life, Gompers was once asked what it was he hoped to gain for workers. His answer was "more"--more money, better working conditions shorter hours. Gompers and his organization aimed to gain a bigger share of the pie through collective bargaining--that is to say, by signing contracts with businesses, and then ensuring that they lived up to those contracts. This approach came to be known and "bread and butter" unionism or "pure and simple unionism." Gompers and his followers made accommodations to work within the capitalist wage system, which is perhaps the most striking difference (of many) between the AFL and the Knights of Labor.

2)     The Eight-hour Day – FOTLU in its early years was but a pale shadow of the Knights of Labor, and by 1884 had become a stagnant organization of about 25,000 members. In late 1884, through 1885 and into 1886 the organization agitated for the establishment of the eight-hour workday (the current “norm” was at that time was ten hours, although many workers worked longer days at the command of manufacturers), after a resolution submitted by Carpenters' Union leader P.J. McGuire was passed. FOTLU proposed a general strike after May 1, 1886 if a law were not passed limiting workers to an 8 hour work day. Workers around the country were greatly enthused by this prospect--particularly a group of anarchists in Chicago.

(a)    May 1 – FOTLU called for a general strike of all workers who had not been granted an eight-hour workday on May 1 of 1886

(b)   200,000 workers heeded the call around the country, and went out on strike.

B)  Haymarket

1)    Strike at McCormick Reaper – workers had been on strike at McCormick for several weeks before May 1 in a wage dispute

a)      Police violence – on May 3, the McCormick strikers were joined by other workers from around the city, in a show of support. The Chicago police (not for the last time) reacted by firing on the crowd, killing four workers and wounding many more. In response, an anarchist group called for a mass meeting the next evening in a working-class neighborhood near the old Haymarket.

b)      International Working People’s Association – this was an organization of anarchist, mostly philosophical anarchist who used means of agitation to persuade workers to join their cause. Many had previously belonged to the International Working Men's Association (also known as the First International), but had been forced to leave due to doctrinal differences with the Marxists heavily represented in that organization.

c) Anarchists and the turn toward "propaganda of the deed"--by the early 1880s, some socialists, frustrated by the seemingly slow pace of social change, and fired by the idea that a single person could, even by the seemingly inconsequential act of resistance or assassination, spark the masses to revolution, some individuals began carrying out acts against buildings or people in power as a means of sparking the revolution.

d)      Events at Haymarket

(i)    Only 1,500 people show up in dismal weather, perhaps only 300 or so remain near the end of the meeting.

(ii)   Chicago police march in, read “crowd” the riot act, and order them to disperse.

(iii)    A bomb is thrown (probably by Louis Lingg); some in the crowd, which had been forced to the sidewalks with the arrival of the police, begin firing into the police as well, who return the fire.

d)      Reaction of ruling elite – the indiscriminate arrest of Germans (and German-Americans), labor union leaders, socialist, and anarchists.

e)      The trial – the Haymarket Eight were indicted for conspiracy (none for direct involvement in the battle). The trial lasted six weeks

(i)    Albert Parsons – charismatic speakers, Confederate veteran, married to Lucy

(ii)   August Spies – editor of the anarchist newspaper, who printed a circular announcing the meeting that encouraged workers to come armed

(iii)    Louis Lingg – the likely bomb-maker (and possibly the thrower), who hung himself (possibly so as not to implicate the others.

f)      The sentence – all eight were found guilty of conspiracy after a trial of six weeks, and sentenced to hang; four swiftly were (Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel. Three survivors were eventually pardoned by Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld (also important during the Pullman strike) in 1893.

F)  American Federation of Labor – established in 1886, in the aftermath of the Haymarket Square incident; provided an outlet for craft unions to distance themselves from the radicals arrested because of Haymarket.

1.      Pure and Simple Unionism – emphasis upon so-called bread and butter issues—wages, working conditions.  Accepted the capitalist system (which other working class movements did not do, including the Knights of  Labor).

a.       Need to control hiring practices – to maintain enough control to maintain wages and working conditions, workers had to maintain solidarity (by refusing to work at job sites that used non-union labor), and control the number of people who gained access to the trade.
b.      The “Walking Boss” – craft unions developed system to police members and the companies that hired them—the business agent, or “walking boss.”  BA’s job was to make sure that all of the craft people employed within a certain craft were union members; this left BA’s susceptible to bribes and “sweetheart” deals with firms.

2.      Running a Labor Union like a business – AFL unions were often run on the business model, with up-to-date accounting practices, etc. AFL unions charged an initiation fee, and relatively high dues, in order to build-up funds that could be used for a strike fund, and to pay benefits to members in case of death or serious injury.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Knights of Labor

I)                 Union building period – in the years following the Great Upheaval, working people sought out organizations that they felt could help them cope with the developing capitalist system

A)    Origins of the Knights of Labor – founded in Philadelphia in 1869 as a union of tailors, the organization remained small and secretive until the former mayor of Scranton, PA was elected to the position of Grand Master Workman by the name of Terrence V. Powderly.

1) Uriah Stephens--became the 1st Grand Master Workman, and it was his vision that largely shaped the organization. Stephens, who had to abandon his studies to become a minister after the Panic of 1837, and instead became an apprentice tailor. Stephens' religious background informed his vision about the universality of labor--and this influenced the vision of the organization from its inception to its demise.

2) Secrecy and Ritual--during the early years of the organization, membership was a tightly kept secret. Part of the reason for this secrecy was due to the hostility of employers to any labor organization during this time period. But this secrecy also added to the allure of the organizations, as well, with its secret handshake, mystical ceremonies, and special symbols. This secrecy inhibited enlarging the organization greatly, however; it wasn't until 1872 (3 years after its founding in 1869) that a second chapter was founded, and not until 1874 that the organization was established outside of the greater Philadelphia area.

3) Goals and Program--the ultimate goal of the Knights of Labor was to reform--or, better yet, transcend--the emerging capitalist economic system. To accomplish this, the Oder welcomed all "producers"; meaning everyone but doctors, lawyers, bankers, gamblers, and liquor dealers.

4)      Organization by location – rather than organize workers by craft, the K of L organized workers by location, by city and/or neighborhood. Eventually they succumbed to demands by skilled workers, however, and in addition also organized workers by job skill.

a) General Assembly--the ultimate authority in the K of L, the General Assembly met once a year, and was made up of representatives from the various District Assemblies.

b) District Assemblies--made up from a number of local assemblies.

c) Local Assemblies (LA)--local assemblies generally were made up of two different kinds of organizations: mixed assemblies, which consisted of workers from a variety of different trades; and trade assemblies, where all members belonged to a specific trade. This make-up was largely determined by local conditions and the size or the local working population; cities with larger populations tended to have LAs more oriented toward craft differences, while LAs in smaller cities tended to have greater diversity within their ranks.

5)      Bi-racial organization – the K of L avoided being trapped by the conundrum of racial differences between black and whites, and organized black workers (and often integrated them within District Assemblies, which was the base level in the organization).

(a)    This bit of racial understanding did not extend to the Chinese workers, however, who were excluded from membership along with liquor dealers, cardsharps, lawyers, and other such scum. This policy may have been influenced by the small number of Chinese workers, their geographic concentration, and the expectation that Chinese immigration (and labor competition) could be closed off by the Chinese Exclusion Act (first passed in 1882, renewed in 1892, and made permanent--until 1943--in 1902).

B) Terence Powderly--When Uriah Stephens retired from the Order in 1878 to run for Congress on the Greenback Labor Party ticket, Terence V. Powderly was chosen to be his successor in the position of Grand Master Workman.

1) Early life--Powderly was born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania in 1849, the son of Irish Catholic parents who emigrated to the United States in the 1820s. Powderly worked as a young boy as a switch tender in a local rail yard, but at the age of 17 he left to become an apprentice machinst.

2) Working life--after serving his apprenticeship, Powderly became a member of the International Union of Machinists and Blacksmiths, and by 1874 he had also become a member of the Knights of Labor.

3) Political life--at the same time Powderly was rising through the ranks of the Knights of Labor, he was also becoming active in local politics; participating first in the activities of the Greenback-Labor Party, and then being elected mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1878. Powderly held that office until 1884, serving simultaneously as mayor and Grand Master Workman until 1884.

4) Personal life--Powderly was of a slender build, and of less than average height. A convinced teetotaler, he had little patience for those who enjoyed drinking--which meant that he had little time for the conviviality of the tavern where much union recruitment took place. This undoubtedly had some adverse effect upon the view that K of L members developed of Powderly.

5) Contribution to the Knights of Labor--although Powderly presided over the great expansion in membership of the K of L, Powderly was not dedicated to the movement in the same way as, say, William Sylvis, but he nevertheless worked very hard to build the organization.

6) Influence with the Roman Catholic Church--Powderly was himself a devout Roman Catholic. The Church was very wary of secret organizations--particularly those that modeled themselves after the Masonic Order, and generally forbid members from joining these types of organizations on pain of excommunication. Powderly's handling of the situation helped persuade Cardinal Gibbon to intercede with the Pope on the Knight's behalf, and permitted the Knights to make inroads with Roman Catholic workers.

7) Cooperation--Powderly's core belief that cooperation between management and labor would permit the two sides to transcend their differences, and also to set up consumer and producer cooperatives, were all producers would receive a fair price for the fruits of their labor.

a) One of the 135 cooperatives established nationwide was started in Toledo by local reed workers.

C) The Rise of the Knights of Labor--both the rise and ultimately the decline of the K of L was in part a result of economic and social circumstances beyond its control
1)      Organizing success – although the official position of the organization opposed strikes, the K of L had great success organizing workers as a result of successful strikes that the union became involved with. As the economic recovery of the late 1870s and early 1880s began to lose steam, employers began to attempt to impose wage cuts on workers as they had in the wake of the 1873 Depression. Workers, again, attempted to resist these wage cuts, and many walked out on strike. While most of these strike were defeated, workers organized by the Knights of Labor were largely successful in forcing employers to rescind these wage cuts.

(a)    Southwestern System strike (1884) – workers of Jay Gould’s Southwestern System went on strike in response to Gould’s insistence that they take a pay cut; the success of the strike almost double the membership of the organization, to approximately 110,000 members, by 1886--with a much larger population of workers sympathetic to the K of L, but who were not official members (perhaps as many as 500,000).

(b) Southwestern System strike (1886)--workers in the Southwestern System, feeling (perhaps over)confident because of past success, went out on strike against Gould's rail system again in 1886. This time, Gould was better prepared, and successfully prevailed upon state governments to use the militia to break the strike in a variety of states. As a result, the strike was defeated, and discouraged rail workers began falling away from the organization

2) Organizing failure--the failure of the 1886 Southwestern System strike (in the workers' view, caused by Powderly's failure to support them in their efforts), coupled with the defeat of Knights-organized packinghouse workers that same year in Chicago, led to a precipitous decline in membership, as members left as quickly in 1886 has they had joined in 1885. The Knights of Labor lost most of its influence as a result, and it became little more than a paper organization.

D. Who were the Knights of Labor--and Why Did They Join?

1. People of diverse opinions were members (at one time), from Samuel Gompers (first president of the American Federation of Labor, to Albert Parsons (one of the accused Haymarket Anarchists).

2. United by their opposition to the wage system--or the "slave wage" system, as they saw it. This is difficult for we moderns to understand, I think, because we have become so inured to it; how would one survive on the sweat of ones' face (to borrow from the biblical term) if not from wages? For Knights, that answer was to transform society through the organization, to build workers' cooperatives, and to find other means of exchange than cash.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Labor Problem of the 19th Century

I. 1877—The Great Upheaval

A. Railroads—the “engine” of economic growth by the mid-19th century, but also caused a great deal of disruption in the neighborhoods that the trains passed through, particularly in this time before the grade the railroad tracks ran on was elevated.

1. Injuries to children—in these neighborhoods, children were regularly injured or killed because they were hit by a train.

2. Injuries to railroad workers—working on a railroad was very dangerous work, and workers were regularly maimed or killed, particularly working in the rail yard, coupling and uncoupling rail cars.

3. Watered stock—in this period of rapid expansion, railroad companies often sold more stock than they had assets or profits to cover; or the board of directors might issue themselves more stock to stave off (or profit from) a merger with another company. This was known as “watering” the stock, and was a huge problem for investors not on the board of directors.

4. Depression of 1873—caused in large part by the bankruptcy of Jay Cooke & Company, a Philadelphia investment bank financing the initial construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. This depression lasted until 1879.

5. Cost-cutting—then, like today, companies were more concerned with the bottom line than with the well-being of their workers, and immediately began cutting wages and jobs—through thousands of people out of work

B. The Great Upheaval—the continuation of the depression meant that businesses continued to cut wages and workers, particularly in the railroad industry.

1. Martinsburg, WVa—a critical junction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Workers there decided to strike to attempt to force the company to rescind yet another wage cut in the summer of 1877. Workers prevented trains from passing through Martinsburg, despite the effort of the governor of West Virginia to mobilize the state militia. Workers also used their knowledge of and access to communication technology to workers around the rest of the country.

2. Pittsburgh—inspired by news of events in Martinsburg, and facing similar wage cuts, railroad workers in Pittsburgh went on strike against the Pennsylvania Railroad. When the militia was called up, they chose to bring troops from Philadelphia, were the Pennsylvania Railroad was headquartered. The arrival of this force of “outsiders” sparked a violent confrontation that eventually saw dozens killed, hundreds seriously injured, and much of the huge rail yard in Pittsburgh destroyed.

3. Toledo—In Toledo, agitation for an 8 hour workday for a minimum $1.50 a day wage led a number of workers, inspired by the job action of local railroad workers, to march from manufacturer to manufacturer to ask that the owner concede this demand—and to call for the workers to join the strike if the owner declined. That evening, a cache of arms stored since the abortive Fenian Uprising ten years before helped the local militia of business owners put down the rebellion.

4. St. Louis—inspired and aided by railroad workers, the workers of St. Louis actually engaged in a brief general strike, and workers for a time took over the governance of the city.

5. San Francisco—the Workingman’s Party in San Francisco was largely an instrument of anti-Chinese agitation, and the uprising there quickly degenerated into an anti-Chinese pogrom.

6. Chicago—inspired by the fiery rhetoric of Confederate veteran Albert Parsons and a number of German-American followers of direct-action anarchist Johann Most, workers in Chicago closed down railroad lines, and much else in the city, as well. Although there was not a general strike here as there was in St. Louis, workers sympathetic to the radicals in the Workingman’s Party (in Chicago, this meant the anarchist contingent) regularly struggled against employers in the city—as well as the police force that workers saw working for business interests in the city.

II. 1886 and Haymarket

A. Economic climate—by early 1878, the US economy began to recover from the depression, and there was a brief period of economic growth—and labor quiescence—before the next depression hit in 1883-1884.

B. Knights of Labor (K of L)—founded by nine tailors in Philadelphia in 1869, in the organization’s early years of existence it functioned more as a fraternal organization than a labor union; it eventually emerged as the first general labor union in the United States, however, and attempted to organized all workers in the country without regard to gender or race (with one important exception).

1. Emergence—the K of L emerged in the late 1870s under the leadership of Grand Master Workman Terrence O. Powderly, a former railroad worker. The K of L organized workers into “local assemblies,” which could be based both organized by community location, or by craft.

2. Powderly’s claim—Powderly’s claim to abhor strikes was probably genuine, by the K of L was most  successful in organizing workers by leading them into successful strikes.

3. 1885 Southwestern Railway strike—the most successful of the Knight’s strikes, which led to unorganized workers seeking out K of L organizers to join the union.

C. Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions (FOTLU) – a rival group to the K of L, consisting of skilled trades workers organized by craft. To set itself apart from the K of L, FOTLU began agitating for a standard 8-hour day in all trades and industries by May 1, 1886.

1. Strike at McCormick Reaper—in late April, workers went on strike for higher wages and a standard 8-hour day at the large factory in Chicago.

2. May Day—May 1, International Workers’ Day, FOTLU called for a one day general strike. A parade of several thousand marched up Michigan Avenue; after the festivities downtown, some workers ended up at the McCormick works to show support for the strikers there. When a sizable contingent of strike supporters showed up again the next day, the police were called out to maintain order; in a confrontation, the police fired on the crowd, killing several.

3. August Spies—in reaction, the editor of the leading German language newspaper called for workers to attend a protest rally at Haymarket Square the next evening—and he advised them to come armed.

4. Haymarket Riot—in dismal weather, a small crowd gathered on the evening of May 3, 1886 to listen to a serious of speeches. As the evening was  winding down, a contingent of Chicago police arrived on the scene to ensure the crowd left quickly and peacefully—when someone from the fringe of the crowd through a bomb that landed in the midst of the police. The combination of the bomb blast and the ensuing gun battle caused seven police officers to be killed, and a number wounded. Reliable numbers for the crowd have never been compiled.

I)                   Homestead

A)    Iron and Steel Industry – by the late 1880s and early 1890s, the iron and steel industry had overtaken railroads as the premier industry in the United States. Millions of tons of steel and steel products – rails, armor for railroad cars and locomotives, machines, machine tools (machines that made other machines), as well as for structural support for new high-rise buildings in the larger cities (which we know as skyscrapers).

1)      Andrew Carnegie – former railroad executive secretary, Carnegie took the advice of his boss, Pennsylvania Railroad president Thomas A. Scott, and took the opportunity that presented itself to invest in the iron industry.

(a)    Carnegie was already a wealth investor when he became involved in the iron and steel industry. Carnegie applied many of the techniques in business management that he learned in the railroad industry (particularly cost-accounting and business coordination, which helped keep his costs well below that of his competitors); he also retained control of the stock of his company, which allowed him to reinvest the profits back into the company, and therefore buy the latest equipment, and hire the best and brightest technical people.

(b)   Vertical integration – Carnegie owned not only the steel mills that produced steel, but he also bought the mines that produced the iron ore and coal need for production, the coking plants that produced the needed coke (processed coal), and the railroad cars and shipping fleet needed to bring in the raw materials and distribute the finished product.

(c)    Philanthropy – Carnegie used the wealth he helped create to greatly strengthen the public library system in the United States; he also endowed universities, built Carnegie Hall in NYC—and he advocated that other men of wealth follow his lead.

2)      The drive to economize – the “secret” of Carnegie’s business success was that his management team was as driven to cut the costs of business as he was (in part because their reward system depended upon it—managers received a substantial portion of the savings they created for the company due to increased productivity; this same opportunity was denied workers who also contributed to this effort by working harder and longer).

(a)    Productivity – defined as manufacturing, or making, more of an object at the same or less cost as compared with an earlier time period. Productivity is the basis for capitalist profit, which in theory allows them to “share” their decreased cost with the consumer, so “all” benefit.

(i)                  Business competition – Carnegie’s compatriots drive to decrease costs tended to drive out of the business those manufacturers who could not keep pace; because of the capital investment to get started in the business, however, a buyer (quite often Carnegie) could be found for the property. With more and more manufacturing capacity being held by fewer and fewer companies, the tendency of capitalist enterprises towards monopoly becomes more pronounced.

(ii)                Business cycle – also known as the “boom and bust” cycle; businesses run like crazy to produce goods to sell, the market for a particular good becomes saturated, causing a glut, and then follows a time of little production, until demand picks up again.

(iii)               Taylorism – Frederick Winslow Taylor was convinced that he could find the “one best way” to accomplish any job. Taylor himself came from an upper middle class background, but he became a machinist. “Soldiering” and what he perceived as inefficiencies of his fellow workers led him to develop time and motion studies, and to outline management practices devoted to prodding workers to put in 60-minute hours at work.

(b)   Technology – this drive for greater levels of productivity also led American industrialists to use more machines than capitalists in other countries

(i)                  Lack of skilled workers? – Some historians and economists have argued in the past that because the United States allegedly lacked skilled workers, that industrialists relied more on the development of machines and machine tools to compensate. Today this reliance seems to have come about for other reasons

(ii)                Labor costs – the increased level of machine use helped capitalists keep down the cost of labor, because the capitalist was able to replace skilled workers (who would have cost him more) with unskilled workers to tend the machines (who cost much less, and were easily replaced should they become recalcitrant.

(iii)               This also undermined the position of the union worker, obviously, especially the skilled worker, who made up most of the ranks of the unions belonging to the AFL. Union members within the AFL umbrella fight battles to retain the benefits of the knowledge they had gained from working a particular job.

(i)      “Featherbedding” – some AFL unions were successful for a time in keeping workers whose jobs had become technologically obsolete.

(c)    Profits – by the early 1890s, the Carnegie Steel Company was making profits of more than $40,000,000 a year

3)      Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers (AA) – in 1892, the AA was the largest and strongest union within the AFL, with approximately 24,000 members. The members of the union included only the skilled workers in iron, steel, and tin foundries; not considered for membership was a much larger contingent of unskilled workers, many of whom were new immigrants from Eastern Europe.

B)     Homestead and the strike

1)      City of Homestead – named after the nearby iron mill, Homestead was located several miles from Pittsburgh, up the Monongahela River. The town was completely dominated by the Carnegie mill—but the town leaders and townspeople identified with the workers more than Carnegie or his managers.

2)      Homestead works – Ford C. Frick was hired by Carnegie to rid Homestead of the AA. After putting Frick in charge, Carnegie left for an extended stay in his castle in Scotland, but communicated in secret with Frick.

(a)    “Negotiations” – Frick made demands upon the AA which he knew would be unacceptable, and then locked out union members when negotiations broke down in late   June. Before the lockout, Frick had an eight-foot steel fence erected around the entire works

(b)   Pinkertons – on July 6, a bargeful of 300 Pinkerton agents was discovered motoring up the Monongahela by union lookouts, who quickly notified union members in Homestead. Union members quickly occupied the Homestead works, and a fierce gun battle raged along the riverfront for most of the day, when finally the Pinkerton agents were forced to surrender; agents were forced to run a gauntlet in town, and many were severely injured as a result

(c)    Won the battle, lost the war – the Allegheny sheriff was unable to recruit locals to “establish order,” and appealed to the governor for mobilization of the militia, and eight thousand troops arrived shortly to protect strikebreakers

(i)                  The Carnegie Company had the strike and union leaders arrested, some of who were charged with murder; after trials, all were found not guilty, but the defense efforts depleted the union treasury

The strike was conceded on November 20, 1892, and immediately the Carnegie Company lowered wages and increased the hours of its workers. The strike ended the influence of the AA.
III. 1894 Pullman Strike.

A.  George Pullman – made his fortune hauling Chicago out of the muck; after the Great Fire of 1871, efforts were made to raise the remaining buildings as much of the swamp that the city was built on was filled. Pullman used this money to establish a company to build sleeping cars used on long trips by railroad companies.

B. Town of Pullman – as the company grew, Pullman became concerned about the effect the radicals in Chicago were having upon his workers, so several miles south of the city he built a town (housing, stores, public buildings, a hotel he named after his daughter Florence, even churches) which he rented to workers, but which he retained title.

1) “Model” town – Pullman the town was a great example of welfare capitalism—that is, subsidizing certain amenities for workers so they remain satisfied on the job.

2) Depression of 1893 – the economic depression of 1893 cut deeply into the profits of the Pullman Company, and Pullman responded by cutting wages and laying off workers, as any good capitalist would do.

(a) Pullman rents – Pullman refused to cut rents in the same manner, however, since that division of the business had to show a profit as well.

(b) Pullman workers respond by going on strike in the spring of 1894.

C. Eugene V. Debs – a former officer of the Brotherhood of Railway Firemen, Debs in early 1894 became president of an early industrial union for railway workers, the American Railway Union.

1) Railway “Brotherhoods” – each specialty in the railroad industry had its own union, The Brotherhood of Railway Engineers, Brakemen, Conductors, Firemen; problems arose when railway companies settled with one of the brotherhoods, and they crossed the picket line while others were still on strike. The ARU is meant to be a solution to this problem.

2) 1894 ARU convention – was held in Chicago; a delegation of workers from Pullman, who plead for the assistance of the ARU. Despite Debs opposition, convention delegates vote to assist Pullman workers, and vote to boycott all trains with Pullman cars. Despite the fact that the ARU represents a relatively small number of workers, traffic all over the country is interrupted.

3) Government response – because there was little violence accompanying the strike the federal government was hamstrung; with a sympathetic John Peter Altgeld as Illinois governor, there was little chance that federal aid would be requested.

(a) Richard Olney – the AG for the federal government was a railroad attorney, and it was he who suggested attaching Pullman cars to mail trains (interfering with the mail is, of course, a federal offense).

(b) Troops from Fort Sheridan (and the Dakotas) are called in “to keep the peace,” which allowed the strike to be broken.

(c) Debs and other union leaders were arrested and held incommunicado, which also helped break the strike; Debs spent a year in jail in Woodstock, Illinois, which he spent reading socialist tracts; he becomes the Socialist Party candidate for president in 1900, 1904, 1908, and 1912, when he polled the largest number of votes to that time in history for a third party candidate.