Steel Strike Of 1919


Also found in: Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Steel Strike Of 1919

 

in the United States, a strike that lasted from Sept. 22,1919, to Jan. 8,1920. It began after the steel companies refused to negotiate with the workers, who were demanding, among other things, an eight-hour workday in place of the current 12-hour day, higher wages, and the reinstatement of workers fired for participating in the labor union movement.

More than 370,000 people took part in the strike, which involved 95 percent of the country’s steelworks. The workers’ struggle was headed by the Committee for Organizing the Steel Industry, established in August 1918; the committee’s secretary was W. Foster. The authorities sent in police and troops to suppress the strike. Several workers were killed and hundreds were injured; several thousand people, including Foster, were arrested. The struggle was hampered in that there were no links with workers in other industries; it also suffered from sabotage by right-wing labor union leaders. The strike was an important stage in the development of the labor movement in the United States, and it forced company owners to increase wages by a slight amount and improve working conditions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For instance, when 350,000 workers went out during the mammoth (https://www.marxists.org/archive/foster/1926/strikestrategy/ch02.htm) Steel Strike of 1919 , employers brought in tens of thousands of African-Americans to work as replacements.
The book is organized into six chronological chapters arranged around the great steel strike of 1919; the shop floor issues of the 1920s and 1930s; the rise of a "rank-and-file" movement in the immediate aftermath of the New Deal; the formation of an Employee Representation Plan (ERP), or company union, at US Steel; the triumph of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) in 1937; and, its subsequent consolidation.
Questions about labor, loyalty, Americanism, and foreignness became pronounced during the massive steel strike of 1919, and the terms used to describe the strike foreshadowed those used during the investigation into the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
He played key roles in both the wartime Chicago stockyards organizing campaign and the steel strike of 1919. Over time, however, Foster became increasingly detached from the workers he had once tried to organize.
In this context, the play scripts alluded to earlier industrial conflicts such as the Haymarket affair and the steel strike of 1919, taking advantage of the audience's familiarity with earlier labor conflicts to foster identification and sympathy.
The Haymarket Riot, Homestead Strike, Pullman Strike, Coeur d'Alene, Telluride, Wheatlands Hops, Ludlow Massacre, Steel Strike of 1919, and the sit down strikes of the 1930s plus many more testify to the obvious existence of profound social discontent.
Report on the Steel Strike of 1919. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe.
Thus, in sharp contrast to the 1892 strike, "almost no ministers in Homestead and the other steel towns supported the workers" during the great steel strike of 1919. The only pro-union cleric, a Catholic priest, "was ultimately driven from town." When legendary labor agitator Mother Jones, then 89, came to Homestead to drum up support for the strike, she was pulled from the speaker's platform and locked in the town jail.
All of the stages and ideological changes in Foster's life are chronicled: early support of syndicalism and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), effective organizing during and after World War I (most notably during the Great Steel Strike of 1919), support for the radical Trade Union Educational League (TUEL), infighting with Earl Browder at the highest levels of the CPUSA, falling in and out (and in again and out again and finally in again) of favour with Comintern, increasing alienation f rom the American working class and the final days in Moscow before his death there in 1961.
With the Great Steel Strike of 1919, Foster became the bete noire of America's working class organizers, a man feared and despised precisely because he galvanized proletarian loyalties at the same time that he could not be dismissed by the bourgeois order as alien and other.