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24 Making Steel and C 25 labor

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1 24 Making Steel and C 25 labor
For just over 100 years, Pennsylvania was truly "the steel capital of the world." Making steel was a great drama of wealth and poverty, of soaring skyscrapers and gritty mill towns, of the clash between the imperatives of profit and human dignity.

2 Pennsylvania's steel and steel workers
Brooklyn Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Chrysler Building Empire State building seventy-ton axle in George Ferris' world-famous 2,000 passenger wheel, 1893 Chicago World's Fair Panama Canal's 110-foot-high lock gates Common labor: coke ovens, blast furnaces, or mill yard was just as difficult, paid less, and had little prospect for advancement. workers of different nationalities and cultures. arrive five minutes late and got docked forty-three cents, about the price of a good pair of work gloves. Pennsylvania's steel and steel workers Farm hands from Chester County sharecroppers from Alabama peasants from Slovenia became industrial workers Ex-soldiers, Pennsylvania-Dutch immigrants from Italy, Croatia, Germany, Russia, and Poland the time discipline of the mill whistle the work discipline of the industry's hard driving practices.


4 Andrew Carnegie first and foremost, made indescribable wealth from steel.
sold his holdings to J.P. Morgan, Carnegie became "the world's richest man," for nearly two decades made every effort to give away his wealth. Amazingly enough, he succeeded after funding 2,811 public libraries, 7,689 church organs, numerous large-scale philanthropic ventures, and countless pensions - spending a total of $380 million. Andrew Carnegie

5 Worker Paid By the Day Men sought steel mill jobs because they paid comparatively well, even though the work was grueling, hot, and dangerous At the turn of the century, unskilled laborers in Pittsburgh steel mills made around fifteen or sixteen cents an hour, considerably less than the $3 a day needed to support a family decently Most other workers were on tonnage rates, not hourly ones. In 1907, the average daily pay in Homestead's open-hearth department was $2.70 Skilled "first helpers" might average $5 a day. At the time, only one worker in a hundred earned more than $6 a day. With few exceptions, a twelve-hour day was the rule until the mid-1930s.

6 Labor Unions: A Monopoly on Workers?
Great labor battles littered the Pennsylvania landscape for decades Trade unions in the iron industry proved unable to organize steel workers skilled white American trade unionists showed little interest in raising the living standards or improving the working conditions of the unskilled and semiskilled steelworkers, even though they made up three-fourths of steel mill employment. These unskilled immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were typically dismissed as "Huns" or "Hunkies." Steel companies - before, during, and after the epic Homestead strike of actively fought workers' efforts to form unions. With a pliant state government on their side, steel companies ran the towns, organized the police, spied on workers, and jailed, fined, or blacklisted union organizers as they saw fit. Despite numerous strikes during the long non-union era, from the 1891 Morewood Massacre through the great steel strike of 1919, workers still faced long hours and low pay.

7 On May 12, 1937, more than 25,000 workers went out on strike at the Jones and Laughlin Corporation steel plant in Aliquippa The next day a photographer caught this scene of striking steelworkers preventing Reverend H.L. Queen, a storekeeper at the plant, from crossing the picket lines. In the scuffle Queen suffered a black eye and bit a picket's hand. The strike ended the next day, after J and L management agreed to negotiate with the union if a majority of its employees voted to join the Steel Workers Organizing Committee.

8 Unionism and the Great Depression
Steel unionism finally flourished with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal reforms. The Wagner Act of 1935 notably placed the federal government firmly on the side of organized labor. Changes in the Pennsylvania state government mattered, too. Progressive governor Gifford Pinchot ( , ) reined in and finally abolished the notorious Coal and Iron Police, which for decades had served at the command of the mine and mill owners. Unionism and the Great Depression When the United Mine Workers helped organize steel in , the union's secretary-treasurer was none other than lieutenant governor Thomas Kennedy. Furthermore, the workplace seniority system entrenched racial segregation by channeling workers' promotions within certain job lines.

9 Growth and Decline of Labor Unions
This fully mature industry, with its abundant profits and high wages, simply collapsed in the 1980s. In just ten years, half the country's steelworkers lost their jobs. Losses were catastrophic in many Pennsylvania mill towns. Management bungling, union inflexibility, government ignorance, waves of global competition - each contributed a measure to this sad outcome. Black workers advanced within the blast furnace department's job lines while white workers advanced in the better-paid maintenance department. Little noticed was that, for the first time, imports of steel became larger than exports during the 116-day-long 1959 strike

10 Andrew Carnegie Even in his own time, Andrew Carnegie was larger than life. His life story embodied Horatio Alger's best-selling books about poor boys who made their way from "rags to riches." A poor Scottish immigrant and son of a struggling handloom weaver, Carnegie came to Pittsburgh and climbed to the pinnacle of American industry through effort, energy, and a bit of luck. When his steel company in 1901 merged into U.S. Steel, the nation's first billion-dollar corporation, banker J.P. Morgan shook his hand with enthusiasm: "Mr. Carnegie, I want to congratulate you on being the richest man in the world!"

11 Henry Clay Frick The eyes of Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie's most important new partner, must have spun silly. "He was a man of blood and iron [who] cared not a penny whether his underlings loved him or hated him," wrote one biographer. Coal from Frick's mine holdings in the Connellsville district of southwestern Pennsylvania made the country's best coke used in iron and steel making.

12 Violence and the Growth of Labor Unions
The very day of the 1891 Morewood Massacre, after his armed deputies had gunned down striking coke workers, Frick told the president of Illinois Steel, rather chillingly, "This will likely have a good effect on the riotous element up there." National notoriety rained down on Frick and Carnegie with the violent Homestead Strike. "Homestead" instantly became a charged symbol for labor activists, and remains so today. Homestead victims

13 Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers
formed in 1876 union of skilled iron and steel workers which was deeply committed to craft unionism. However, technological advances had slashed the number of skilled workers in both industries.

14 Violence and the Growth of Labor Unions
Yet the moment of workers' control ended with the arrival of the state militia. The "Battle of Homestead" on July 6, 1892, was a dramatic and deadly confrontation. On one side stood the three hundred well-armed Pinkertons hired by Frick and Carnegie to land strikebreakers at the mill. Opposing them were several thousand organized workers who fought off the Pinkertons and for a time controlled the town and even the Carnegie mill.

15 1893 : Homestead Strike 1901 : McKee’s Rocks Strike
In 1876 skilled iron puddlers and rolling mill workers had organized the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers. The Amalgamated's focus on skilled iron workers, however, prevented it from being an effective force in the new steel industry. The Amalgamated fought, and lost, the Homestead strike of 1892 in its stronghold in steel, as well as strikes in 1901 and 1909. Unease with immigrants was not limited to the coal and steel communities. Large cities filling up with "dangerous," "foreign," "alien," "radicals" alarmed many middle-class Americans. Immigrants, long supposed indifferent to unionism, actually led the violent and fiercely fought 1909 McKee's Rocks Strike. Then the Ironworkers Union's ill-considered dynamiting campaign tarred unionism with the brush of radicalism.

16 1919: Steel Strike In 1919, a loosely structured "National Committee“ organized angry steel workers for a nationwide job action. Tensions ran high that summer, especially after the killing of union organizer Fanny Sellins and the arrests of Mother Jones in Duquesne and Homestead during the Monongahela Valley "free speech" campaigns. When the strike call went out that fall more than a quarter million workers walked off the job in the great steel strike of 1919, shutting down steel plants across the country.

17 The Steel Strike of 1919 an attempt by the weakened Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers to organize the United States steel industry in the wake of World War I The strike began on September 21, 1919 and collapsed on January 8, 1920.


19 Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers maintained membership in the steel industry until its takeover by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee in 1936. The two organizations officially disbanded and formed the United Steelworkers May 22, 1942. The Bost Building, AA headquarters during the strike and today a National Historic Landmark In 1999 the Bost Building in downtown Homestead, AA headquarters throughout the strike, was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is used as a museum devoted to not only the strike but the steel industry in the Pittsburgh area. A railroad bridge over the Monongahela near the site of the battle is named Pinkerton's Landing Bridge in honor of the dead.

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