Subversive Historian 09/22/08

The Steel Strike of 1919

Eighty-nine years ago on this day in people’s history, more than 350,000 steel workers in the United States walked out on strike. On September 22nd, organizers declared the steel strike of 1919 across several states against the US Steel Corporation. The American Federation of Labor and the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers sough to end the twelve hour day, increase wages and gain union recognition in the industry. The steel owners responded by attempting to turn public support for the workers against them through spreading fears of Bolshevism in the media. The state, through deputized company guards and police, repressed strikers and the U.S. Army even intervened in Gary, Indiana where martial law was declared. The great steel strike came to an end less than one hundred days after it started with workers forced back on the job.

The legendary labor organizer Mother Jones, reflecting on this, said in her autobiography , “The strike is not over. Injustice boils in men’s hearts, as does steel in its caldron, ready to pour, white hot, in the fullness of time.”

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