The Steel Strike -- By: Ernest Ludlow Bogart

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:233 (Jan 1902)
Article: The Steel Strike
Author: Ernest Ludlow Bogart


The Steel Strike

Prof. Ernest Ludlow Bogart

I. The History

The summer of 1901 was marked by rather more than the usual number of labor disputes, but the strike of the employes of the United States Steel Corporation so far overshadowed the others that they were concluded with scarcely a notice from the general public. And the steel strike deserved the attention it received, not merely on account of the magnitude of the interests involved,—for it was against the largest aggregation of capital ever brought under a unified control,—but because of the principles and issues at stake. At no time was the question of wages raised. The strike was called solely for a “principle.” Earlier in the history of trades-unionism, strikes were usually inaugurated, either for the purpose of securing higher wages, shorter hours, or improvements in the general conditions of work. As the unions have grown in numbers and power, and as the earlier demands have been more or less completely met, the tendency has been for the unions to demand an increasing voice in the control and management of the business itself. This has found expression in the prohibition of machinery, limiting the amount of work and the output, appointing the foreman, forbidding employment of non-union or discharge of union men, and in various other ways more or less defensible.

In England this policy of the trades-unions seems to

have proceeded farthest,1 but within the last few years the United States too has seen an extension of this policy, which has been enforced more than once by means of the strike. The demand of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers, whose refusal by the United States Steel Corporation led to the so-called steel strike, was essentially a demand for recognition in the management of the steel business. The consideration of this demand, with all that it implies and involves, suggests some interesting thoughts which may be briefly developed. Before drawing any conclusions, however, about the tendencies of American trades-unionism as illustrated by the steel strike, a brief preliminary sketch of the strike itself and of the two parties thereto will be in order.

The United States Steel Corporation was organized on February 23, 1901, in New Jersey, with an authorized capital of $1,100,000,000, one-half of which was in seven per cent cumulative preferred stock, and the other half in common stock. The Steel Corporation, more generally known as the Steel Trust, was formed by the union of nine companies, some of which represented previous consolidations, and which covered almost every department of the steel industry. The avowed objec...

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