Wage cuts in the silver and lead mines of northern Idaho led to one of the most bitter conflicts of the decade. To put brake on organized labor, mine owners had formed a protective association, and in March 1892, they announced a wage cut throughout the Coeur d’Alene district. After the miners’ refused to accept the cut, the owners locked out all union members and brought in strikebreakers by the trainload. Unionists tried peaceful methods of protest. But after three months of stalemate, they loaded a railcar with explosives and blew up a mine. The governor proclaimed martial law and dispatched a combined state-federal force of about 1,500 troops, who broke the strike. But the miners’ union survived, and most members became active in the Populist Party, which at the next session of the Idaho legislature allied with Democrats to cut back all appropriations to the National Guard. At Homestead, Pennsylvania, members of the Amalgamated Iron, Steel and Tin Workers, the most powerful union of the AFL, had carved out an admirable position for themselves in the Carnegie Steel Company. Determine to gain control over every stage of production, however, Carnegie and his partner, Henry C. Frick, decided not only to lower wages but also to break the union. In 1892, when Amalgamated’s contract expired, Frick announced a drastic wage cut. After four month, the union was forced to concede a crushing defeat. The Carnegie Company reduced its workforce by 25 percent, lengthened the workday, and cut wages 25 percent for those who remained on the job. The Pullman Strike was a nationwide railroad strike in the United States in the summer of 1894. It pitted the American Railway Union (ARU) against the Pullman Company, the main railroad, and the federal government of the United States under President Grover Cleveland. At first, the Pullman strike at first produced little violence. ARU officials urged strikers to ignore all provocations and hold their ground peacefully. After a bitter confrontation that left thirteen people dead and more than fifty wounded, the army dispersed the strikers. For the next week, railroad workers in twenty-six other states resisted federal troops, and a dozen more people were killed. Debs concluded that the labor movement could not regain its dignity without seizing the reins of government.
- Fall '17
- Cliff Tyndall
- History, Federal government of the United States, Populist Party, Sherman Silver Purchase Act, Panic of 1893