« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
cotts against newspapers, of which 13 were won, 10 were lost, and 21 were pending. The International Cigar Makers' Union was a distant second to the typographical, but it, on the whole, relied more on the label than on the boycott. The boycotts in New York City were very largely trade union boycotts, and to a minor extent also in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. In each of these places they were successful. Practically in every case the boycott was also a secondary boycott, that is, persons disregarding a boycott were boycotted in turn.28
The strike, which had been overshadowed by the boycott during the latter half of 1884 and the first half of 1885, again came into prominence in the latter half of the year. This coincided with the beginning of an upward trend in general business conditions. The strikes of 1885, even more than those of the preceding year, were spontaneous outbreaks of unorganised masses. The general strike in the Saginaw Valley, Michigan, is typical of this movement. The legislature had enacted a general tenhour law for all mills and manufacturing establishments, to become effective September 30, 1885.29 However, the workmen in the lumber and shingle mills in the Saginaw Valley, among whom was a considerable foreign (mostly Polish) element, either were ignorant of the fact that the law did not go into effect at once, or were too impatient to wait. On July 6, practically without any previous organisation, they went out on strike for an immediate ten-hour day with the same pay as they already had. In a short time the strikers, marching in a body from mill to mill, everywhere demanding that the men quit work, had forced a shutdown in the entire lumber industry, numbering 17 shingle mills, 61 lumber mills, and 58 salt blocks attached to the latter, and employing altogether over 5,500 men. After the strike had started, T. B. Barry, a member of the executive board of the Knights of Labor, arrived and took charge. The employers imported over 150 Pinkerton detectives, and, besides, a large body of militia was constantly held in readiness. The strike lasted through July and August,
29 Like all of the general laws for shorter hours that the politicians in this period as well as in the earlier years felt themselves obliged to pass it contained
the self-nullifying provision exempting
during which time prices on lumber and salt rose considerably. Apparently, the temptation to benefit from the high prices and the great determination exhibited by the strikers induced the employers to concede all the demands, and the strike was called off September 1.30
That the lowest strata of labour were drawn into the movement is demonstrated by the strike of 2,000 quarrymen at Lemont and Joliet, Illinois. The strikers were a polyglot mass of Swedes, Bohemians, Poles, Norwegians, and Welshmen. They demanded an increase of 25 per cent in their daily wage of one dollar and grew violent when the employers began importing Negro and other strike-breakers. Governor Oglesby ordered out the militia and the strike was broken up after several strikers and one woman had been killed in a riot. The correspondent in Swinton's paper ends his account by a sentence which may well be applied to a large number of the strikes of that time: "The miners were unorganised, and the strike has been a thing of confusion from first to last." 31 While violence and confusion characterised the movement of the unskilled and unorganised, and, in most of the cases, frustrated their efforts, the highly skilled and perfectly organised bricklayers, after a short strike, gained the nine-hour day in New York City.32
The frequent railway strikes were a notorious feature of the labour movement in 1885. There had been two strikes on the Union Pacific in 1884. The first one came entirely unorganised. The shopmen in Denver struck May 4, as a result of a wage reduction of 10 per cent, and requested Joseph R. Buchanan, editor of The Labor Enquirer of Denver and a prominent Knight of Labor, to manage the strike. He did this so well that inside of thirty-six hours every shop from Omaha to Ogden and upon all branch lines was on strike, and on the third day the order reducing the wages was recalled. This was the beginning of a strong organisation of the Knights of Labor on that road. Its strength came to a test in August when the company ordered a reduction of the wages of 15 first
30 Ibid., 92-126.
31 John Swinton's Paper, May 10, 1885. 32 Of the numerous other strikes, the street railway strikes in Chicago, New York, and St. Louis (of a very violent
order in the case of the last named) during the summer and fall of 1885 attracted public attention.
33 Buchanan, The Story of a Labor Agitator, 70-78.
class machinists at Ellis, Kansas, and discharged 20 men from the Denver shops for no reason, as the organisation claimed, excepting that they were prominent Knights of Labor. This strike ended also with complete success and served as a powerful advertisement of the Order in the territory of the Rocky Mountains.
A more notable event was the Gould railway strike in March, 1885. On February 26, a cut of 10 per cent was ordered in the wages of the shopmen of the Wabash road. A similar reduction had been made in October, 1884, on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas. Strikes occurred on the two roads, one on February 27 and the other March 9, and the strikers were joined by the men on the third Gould road, the Missouri Pacific, at all points where the two lines touched, making altogether over 4,500 men on strike. The The "runners," that is, the locomotive engineers, firemen, brakemen, and conductors, supported the strikers, and to this fact more than to any other was due their speedy victory. The wages were restored and the strikers re-employed. The assemblies of the Union Pacific employés commissioned Buchanan to assist the Gould strikers and appropriated $30,000 to their support. He utilised the opportunity for organising railroad men's assemblies wherever he went during his extended trip over the striking roads. Such, as a rule, was the method of procedure characteristic of large numbers of the wage-earners at this time: They struck first and joined the Knights of Labor afterwards.
The practically unavoidable result of such a method was a second strike after a short interval in order to protect the existence of the organisation. The employer, who had been forced to surrender by the sudden strike, realised the weakness of the young organisation and endeavoured to nip it in the bud, by discharging as many leaders as he dared. The second strike on the Wabash railway, which began on August 18, 1885, was precisely of this nature. The road, now in the hands of a receiver, reduced the force of shopmen at Moberly, Missouri, to the lowest possible limit, which virtually meant a lockout of the members of the Knights of Labor in direct violation of the conditions of settlement of the preceding strike. The General Executive Board, after a futile attempt to have a conference
with the receiver, issued a general order "to all assemblies on the Union Pacific and its branches and Gould's Southwestern system" to the effect that "all assemblies of the above lines of railway, all Knights of Labor in the employ of the Union Pacific and its branches and Gould Southwestern system, or any other railroad, must refuse to repair or handle in any manner Wabash rolling stock. until further orders from the General Executive Board." 34 This order, had it been carried out, would have affected over 20,000 miles of railway and would have equalled the dimensions of the great railway strike of 1877. But Gould would not risk a general strike on his lines at this time. According to an appointment made between him and the executive board of the Knights of Labor, a conference was held between that board and, the managers of the Missouri Pacific and the Wabash railroads, at which he threw his influence in favour of making concessions to the men. He assured the Knights that in all troubles he wanted the men to come directly to him, that he believed in labour organisations and in the arbitration of all difficulties, and that he "would always endeavour to do what was right." The Knights demanded the discharge of all new men hired in the Wabash shops since the beginning of the lockout, the reinstatement of all discharged men, the leaders being given priority, and an assurance that no discrimination against the members of the Order would be made in the future.35 A settlement was finally made at another conference, and the receiver of the Wabash road agreed, under pressure by Jay Gould, to issue an order to the superintendents directing that they should, "in filling vacancies caused by the discharge of men for incompetency or by their leaving the service, give the old men the preference over strangers or new men, asking no questions as to whether they belong to the Knights of Labor or any other organisation.' 99 36
The significance of the second Wabash strike in the history of railway strikes was, that the railway brotherhoods (engineers, firemen, brakemen, and conductors) in contrast with their conduct during the first Wabash strike, now refused to lend any
34 John Swinton's Paper, Aug. 23, 1885.
35 Ibid., Aug. 30, 1885.
36 Ibid., Sept. 18, 1885.
aid to the striking shopmen, although many of the members were also Knights of Labor.
But far more important was the effect of the strike upon the general labour movement. Here a labour organisation for the first time dealt on an equal footing with the most powerful capitalist in the country. It forced Jay Gould to recognise it as a power equal to himself, a fact which he amply conceded
when he declared his readiness to arbitrate all labour difficulties that might arise. The oppressed labouring masses finally discovered a champion which could curb the power of a man stronger even than the government itself. All the pentup feeling of bitterness and resentment which had accumulated during the two years of depression, in consequence of the repeated cuts in wages and the intensified domination by employers, now found vent in a rush to organise under the banner of the powerful Knights of Labor. To the natural tendency on the part of the oppressed to exaggerate the power of a mysterious emancipator whom they suddenly find coming to their aid, there was added the influence of sensational reports in the public press. The newspapers especially took delight in exaggerating the powers and strength of the Order.
As early as 1883, Grand Master Workman Powderly complained of the exaggerated reports of the newspapers with respect to membership and activities.37 The estimates of membership ranged from 500,000 to 5,000,000. In 1884 the general secretary reports that everywhere the press speaks of the Order.38 Newspapers were always eager to give publicity to utterances of the leaders. When Powderly spoke in St. Paul and Minneapolis, the newspapers commented favourably and gave considerable space to what he said.39 In Arkansas the legislature with only one dissenting vote, granted Powderly the privilege of the house of representatives to deliver a speech upon the economic and labour problems of the day.
The general public also manifested a keen interest in the activities and growth of the Order. The New York Bureau of Statistics and Labor in 1889 declared: "That the public desires some information upon the subject of strikes is plainly
87 General Assembly, Proceedings, 1883, p. 401.
38 Ibid., 1884, p. 586.
39 Philadelphia Journal of United Labor, Aug. 10, 1885.
40 Ibid., Mar. 25, 1885.