The Great Upheaval:
Labor Relations During the GAPE
4 Major Upheavals
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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?
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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?
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Why is this significant? (the outcome)
Haymarket Bombing (1886)
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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)
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The International Working People’s Association
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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)
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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)
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The remaining cops started firing into the crowd
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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)
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Haymarket marked the culmination of mounting
tension in Chicago
Workers struggle against:
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the Chicago police
Pinkertons (explain)
citizens who had been deputized
the McCormick strike, then the May Day parade,
then Haymarket
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state militia armed with Gatling guns had lined the
roof tops during the parade
Haymarket Bombing (1886)
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After Haymarket, panic seized Chicago
Chicago experienced its first “red scare”
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and the police instituted 8 weeks of what one scholar
has called “police terrorism.”
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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)
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Anarchists suspected (without basis) of a
conspiracy were put on trial
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The trial lasted from June until August
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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
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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)
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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
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Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin
Workers, formed in 1876
Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and
Tin Workers
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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
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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)
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Working conditions
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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)
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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
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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)
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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)
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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
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Founded in the 1850s
in Chicago
Scottish immigrant
named Allan
Pinkerton
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ran the company for
almost 40 years
involvement in strike
breaking and other
anti-union activities
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892)
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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
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The battle raged all day
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT (1892)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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
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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
Pullman Town
Workers and Pullman Town
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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
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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)
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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
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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
The Pullman Strike (1894)
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The strike began of May 12 1894
By the end of June, railroad traffic in
Chicago had stopped completely
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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)
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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)
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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 Pullman Strike (1894)
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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
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The Colorado Miners and Smelters Strikes
(1902-1904)
1903 -- “Big Bill” Haywood -- Is Colorado in
America?
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1902 -- Haywood & WFM organize smelters
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Great Colorado labor wars
12-hour days for $1.80
Miners -- 8-hour day for $3-3.50
Employers began firing union members
Colorado
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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
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Colorado
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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
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MacNeill agreed to rehire fired workers, but
then reneged on his promise
Labor wars begin
Colorado
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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
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Battle spread to state legislature where an
8-hour referendum approved by 72% of
voters died in committee
Colorado
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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
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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.
Why are they important?
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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?
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Why is this significant? (the outcome)