The Great Upheaval: Labor Relations During the GAPE
4 Major Upheavals • The Haymarket bombing (May 1886) • The Homestead Steel Strike (1892) • The Pullman Strike (1894) • The Colorado Miners and Smelters Strikes (1903-1904)
Why are they important? • Why were workers striking? • What were their demands? • How did employers respond? • How did local, state, and federal government respond? • What was the eventual outcome of the strikes? • Why is this significant? (the outcome)
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • In Chicago in May 1886, the eight-hour general strike and parade of May 1 merged with the McCormick reaper strike that had been dragging on for several weeks • On May 3, participants in both strikes congregated in front of Cyrus McCormick’s reaper works where, Chicago police (who already had a reputation of being brutal) beat up strikers and fired their weapons into the crowd
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • The International Working People’s Association • a small German anarchist • group called a meeting to protest police brutality • It was to be held the following day, May 4 in the Haymarket Square • The IWPA circulated fliers that implored workers to arm themselves and appear in full force!
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • The Haymarket protest took place the following day, a chilly drizzly day, it was entirely peaceful • About 2,000 to 3,000 people turned out. Chicago’s mayor, Carter Harrison, showed up • Then on the evening of May 4 as the meeting was winding down—only about 300 people left—a bomb exploded in an alley just off the square, downing 50 policemen.
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • The remaining cops started firing into the crowd • 1 officer died immediately from the bomb • 7 other officers died later from injures caused by the bomb • 60 officers were injured by their comrades fire! • The official number of dead protesters was never ascertained, but we think that only about 7 or 8 protesters died that night about another 30 or 40 were wounded • Nobody knew where the bomb came from
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • Haymarket marked the culmination of mounting tension in Chicago • Workers struggle against: • the Chicago police • Pinkertons (explain) • citizens who had been deputized • the McCormick strike, then the May Day parade, then Haymarket • state militia armed with Gatling guns had lined the roof tops during the parade
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • After Haymarket, panic seized Chicago • Chicago experienced its first “red scare” • and the police instituted 8 weeks of what one scholar has called “police terrorism.” • The police raided more than 50 meeting places of suspected anarchists, socialists, and other radical activities. Many suspects were taken into custody and beaten. • 100 prominent citizens led by Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George M. Pullman pledged $100,000 for the purpose of eradicating anarchy and sedition
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • Anarchists suspected (without basis) of a conspiracy were put on trial • The trial lasted from June until August • the judge intimidated jurors by instructing them that advocating violence was the same as committing murder • Although six of the eight defendants were not even at Haymarket Square on May 4, and the other two were in full view, directly in front of the speakers platform, the state’s attorney attempted to prove that they had engaged in a conspiracy and aided and abetted the bomb thrower
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • The jury found all eight defendants guilty and sentenced 7 to death
Haymarket Bombing (1886) There is no evidence that I or any of us killed or had anything to do with the killing of, policemen at the Haymarket. None at all. But it was proven clearly that we were, all of us, anarchists, socialists, communists, Knights of Labor, unionists. It was proven that three of us were editors of labor papers; that five of us were labor organizers and speakers at workingmen’s mass meetings. They, the class court, jury, law and verdict, have decided that we must be put to death because, as they say, we were “leaders” of men who denounce and battle against the oppression, slaveries, robbery and influences of the monopolies. Of these crimes against the capitalist class they found us guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Albert Parsons, from an old American family in Alabama
Haymarket Bombing (1886) Another of the convicted men concluded that “he who speaks for the workingman must hang.” The verdict was initially exceedingly popular with most Americans But as tensions cooled somewhat, people started to come out against the ruling
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • Writers, social activists, local chapters of the Knights (but not Powderly) led a campaign to have the sentences reduced • On one Sunday alone, workers in London gathered 16,000 signatures
Haymarket Bombing (1886) • Despite the change of heart, 4 of the 7 who were sentenced to death hanged in November 1887 • Illinois’ governor commuted 2 of the sentences to life in prison • Under Illinois law the governor could only commute a sentence if the prison begged for mercy, which only 2 did • One of the defendants killed himself in his prison cell • Six years later, Governor John P. Altgeld pardoned the two surviving defendants
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Importance of steel • a series of wage cuts in 1892 struck at the heart of the steel industry • The result was one of the country’s most sensational strikes at Homestead, PA in 1892. • A strike that pitted the nation’s largest steel producer, Andrew Carnegie, against the nation’s strongest trade union • Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers, formed in 1876
Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers • The Amalgamated Association had reached its highest membership just one year before the strike (1891) and had more than 24,000 members • The best organized and strongest union in Gompers’ AFL, the Amalgamated won a strike in Homestead in 1889 • but in 1892 the plant manager and former owner Henry Clay Frick had decided he was going to break the union
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Working conditions • in addition to 12 hour days, every two weeks workers worked a continuous 24 hour shift, then they had 24 hours off • The extremely hot, extremely dangerous work of tending to the mills gigantic furnaces struck one observer as inhuman • wage cuts in 1892
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Amalgamated’s contract with the mill at Homestead expired in June 1892 • Carnegie was at his castle in Scotland and gave all control in the matter over to Frick. • Frick proposed to cut wages, forcing the union to reject his terms • Frick then locked the “uncooperative” union members out and actually constructed a fence that was eight feet high and three miles long to keep the workers out!
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Frick topped the fence with barbed wire • constructed twelve-foot towers equipped with searchlights at the corners of the mill • Workers swore that Frick had also installed sniper holes in the fence! • Enraged workers dubbed the plant Fort Frick!
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • The lockout began June 28. On July 2 Frick discharged (fired) all the workers and called in 300 Pinkertons to protect the new group of workers that would be entering the plant
Pinkerton National Detective Agency • Founded in the 1850s in Chicago • Scottish immigrant named Allan Pinkerton • ran the company for almost 40 years • involvement in strike breaking and other anti-union activities
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • On the morning of July 6 the Pinkertons arrived on two covered barges • workers charged the riverbank, swearing and cursing at the Pinkertons • Someone fired a pistol and the all hell broke loose • The battle raged all day
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Workers hid behind piles of steel and pig iron and fired pistol and rifles at the Pinkertons who were trapped on the barges • At one point they rolled out what the Pinkertons thought was a cannon, but they were actually just throwing dynamite at the boats!! • workers also tried to light the barges on fire with another flaming barge and a handcart that they had lit on fire and rolled toward the shore.
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • They also threw stones and pieces of metal at the barges • Pinkertons returned fire, and both sides fought until they realized that their efforts to destroy one another were futile • Both sides eventually hashed out a cease-fire and the Pinkertons were allowed to land, but they had to run a 600-yard gauntlet of workers who beat and kicked them as they passed.
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Fortunately only 9 steelworkers and 7 Pinkertons were killed—many more were injured • When they learned of the battle, most Americans blamed Carnegie and Frick • not the workers or the Pinkertons
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • PA governor sent 8,000 militia to Homestead • gradually new workers entered the mill, which began operations on July 15 • The regular workers continued to strike with the hope that Frick would be able to find enough skilled workers to fill the plant • They were soon joined by workers who walked out in sympathy strikes at Carnegie plants in Beaver Falls and Pittsburgh.
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • Then on July 23, an anarchist named Alexander Berkman shot Frick • Berkman sentenced to 22 years • Frick made a full recovery • In September, 35 union leaders were charged with treason under an obscure PA law that essentially made a crime against ones employer a crime against the state
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892) • A jury eventually found all of them not guilty, but they had to spend a month in jail. (Sept.-Oct.) • Disorganized and discouraged, most of the steelworkers left Homestead by the end of October • Their jobs went to black workers whom the whites had systematic barred from membership in the Amalgamated Association • Frick succeeded • He completely broke one of the strongest unions in the country
The Pullman Strike (1894) • In the wake of the great railroad strike of 1877, which erupted in a four day battle in Chicago that pitted strikers and their sympathizers against the Chicago police and killed 13 and left hundreds injured, George Pullman decided to take extreme measures in a effort to mollify his workforce
The Pullman Town • Pullman decided to build an entire “model” town for his workers down the street from his Pullman Palace Car Company on Chicago’s south side • Pullman’s town was clean, orderly, rationally arranged, meticulously managed, and dry (no alcohol) • Pullman hoped his town would inculcate habits of respectability in his workers, and that living in such well designed and well maintained surroundings would initiate a new era for labor free of strikes and unrest
Workers and Pullman Town • Ironically, most Pullman workers only remained in Pullman’s model town for a couple of years • The workers bolted as soon as they had the chance because they wanted to live a life free form George Pullman • because the town had no independent government or elected officers of any kind • They could not own their homes • There was also no cemetery, orphanage, or public charity • Utilities were 80% higher than they were in nearby Chicago • and everyone had to pay a fee for the library whether they used it or not
The Pullman Strike • At the outset of the panic of 1893, Pullman cut wages by 28%, (and as high as 70% in some cases) • but he did not lower rents in his Pullman village • To make matters worse, rents were deducted directly from workers’ pay, which meant that some workers received pay envelopes with only 1 or 2 dollars for two weeks work. Some workers received less than that
The Pullman Strike (1894) • In May 1894, workers asked Pullman to restore wages to their 1892 level • Pullman refused even to bargain and within a week three of the workers who stated the grievance were laid off • The Pullman workers struck and called the American Railway Union to represent them
American Railway Union • Eugene V. Debs • ARU organized by industry instead of craft and so possessed a very large base of members • Ultimately 150,000 ARU members throughout the country refused to handle any of the Pullman cars
The Pullman Strike (1894) • The strike began of May 12 1894 • By the end of June, railroad traffic in Chicago had stopped completely • shipping was tied up from CA to OH • The shortages that resulted sent food prices soaring, especially in Chicago • The Southern Pacific Railroad lost $200,000 per day!
The Pullman Strike (1894) • On July 2, Richard Olney, the attorney general of the United States, obtained a blanket injunction ordering all strikers back to work • Olney had argued that the strikers were blocking the flow of mail, which was carried by the trains, and that was against federal law • Because Debs was such a high-profile leader, and because strikers were supposedly blocking the flow of mail • President Cleveland sent 14k U.S. Army troops to Chicago on July 3 to disperse the workers and make sure they went back to work
The Pullman Strike (1894) • Troops entered the city on the Fourth of July in spite of strenuous objection from Illinois’ Governor John P. Altgeld • Once again all hell broke loose • Workers stoned, burned and generally wrecked dozens of Pullman’s train cars • They also fought in the streets with the Chicago police, the state militia, and 14,000 U.S. Army troops
The Pullman Strike (1894) • The strike ended on July 8 after the violence had spread to several states and killed at least 34 people • Debs was convicted of contempt of court (ignoring the injunction) and served 6 months in a federal pen
Colorado • The Colorado Miners and Smelters Strikes (1902-1904) • 1903 -- “Big Bill” Haywood -- Is Colorado in America? • Great Colorado labor wars • 1902 -- Haywood & WFM organize smelters • 12-hour days for $1.80 • Miners -- 8-hour day for $3-3.50 • Employers began firing union members
Colorado • February 1903 -- one of the owners (Hawkins) fired 23 workers • WFM responded with a strike • Union reached agreement with Telluride and Portland mills • 8-hour day • Rehire fired workers • Further negotiations on wages
Colorado • One owner (Charles MacNeill of the Standard Mill) walked out--refused to negotiate • Miners at Cripple Creek, which supplied ore to Standard waged a sympathy strike • MacNeill agreed to rehire fired workers, but then reneged on his promise • Labor wars begin
Colorado • Businessmen led by mine and mill owners formed the Citizens’ Alliance and vowed to crush the WFM • Cut off credit to strikers • Persuaded Colorado Governor James Peabody to send the National Guard • Battle spread to state legislature where an 8-hour referendum approved by 72% of voters died in committee
Colorado • Following news of the failure of the 8-hour amendment, the labor war spread to mines in Idaho Springs and Telluride • Haywood appealed to Governor Peabody and President Roosevelt to protect workers, but neither individual responded favorably • Cripple Creek, Telluride, and Idaho Springs dragged on until…
Colorado • On June 6, 1904 a bomb exploded in a train station, killing 13 strikebreakers and seriously injuring another 16 • Citizens’ Alliance and Mine Owners Association immediately blamed the WFM • Erected “kangaroo” courts and began “deporting” striking union members • Within a few months the WFM was non-existent in Colorado and the strikes were over
Colorado Colorado, it is of thee, Dark land of tyranny, Of thee I sing: Land wherein labor’s bled, Land from which law has fled, Bow down thy mournful head, Capital is king.