Dennis frames the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937 where police shot into a peaceful crowd of strikers as a flashpoint in a arger struggle for democratic rights at workplaces over the primacy of corporate management in the midst of the Great Depression He writes of the arger struggle by poor working class people to reclaim their ives in a world of want eading up to 1937 when a huge strikewave hit the United States after the success of the Flint Sitdown strike While the Steel Workers Organizing Committee SWOC funded by United Mine Workers and the CIO uickly and skillfully inflitrated US Steel which "led management to capitulate without a strike for fear of distruption the smaller "management to capitulate without a strike for fear of distruption the smaller firms Little Steel dug in against organizing which kicked off a multistate strike In Chicago where the strike was directed against Republic Steel police were funded directly by the company WHO HATED THE LABOR MOVEMENT AND THE STRIKERS FOR hated the abor movement and the strikers for racially and ethnically diverse freuently attacking and beating union activists Dennis notes
that the struggle for shop floor control union representation and social democracythe struggle for shop floor control union representation and social democracy the fight and inspired workers in Chicago The strikers had settled into a festive picnic near the plant in order to dispel tensions after some fo the beatings but when they approached in order to argue for their right to peacefully picket in front of the plant the 250 police suddenly attacked the crowd of 1500 with bullets and batons killing 10 and injuring over 150 While Little Steel eventually won the battle as the strike was called off after SWOC organizers decided respectability politics were better than grassroots wildcat actions eventually SWOC won the war as the federal government forced them to negotiate as WWII production picked upDennis s book is meant for a public audience as the research mostly depends on already published materials is short does not new research and does not engage with the historiography of the SWOC campaign which disagrees whether the Man, Son of Man leadership was progressive while members conservative and what sort ofabor movement was built in the 30s 40s real material gains vs neutering of the workers movement Still it is very approachable and frames well the high stakes of the abor battles of the 30s where some pa. On Memorial Day 1937 thousands of steelworkers middle class supporters and working class activists gathered at Sam's Place on the Southeast Side of Chicago to protest Republic Steel’s virulent opposition to union recognition and collective bargaining By the end of the day ten marchers had been mortally wounded and than one hundred badly injured victims of a terrifying police riot Sam's Place the headuarters for the steelworkers was transformed into a bloody and frantic triage unit for treating heads split open by police batons flesh torn by bullets and imbs mangled badly enough to reuire amputation While no one.
characters Blood on SteelAd about 30 of its own heavily armed private security force guarding the plant In addition Republic Steel had agreed to pay the city of Chicago several hundred thousand dollars to buy protection from the Chicago Police This was a critical issue because the city was nearly bankrupt from the effects of the Great Depression Police were restive and unwilling to work because they had not been paid The Republic Steel payment solved this issue and made the police oyal to the companyRepublic Steel s armed guards were joined by 250 CPD officers As the crowd approached people in the front began arguing with the police about their right to picketThat s when the police opened fire Ten people died Another 60 to 100 were injured including women and children Republic Steel sent out press releases claiming that marijuana smoking communists had attempted to storm the plant The strike collapsed nationwide SWOC filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board which in 1941 ruled that the companies of Little Steel had violated federal Uncommon Wisdom laboraw Elections were held which SWOC wonMichael Dennis book is basically a straight forward narrative of the strike at Republic Steel which began in April 1937 His narrative concludes with the Memorial Day Massacre and its immediate aftermathDennis prose style is all right but nothing to write home about He can occasionally get bogged down in detail particularly when he has first person reports to relate These he seems to think are so gripping that you want to read them in detail Unfortunately these passages tend to get in the way of the storyDennis did a decent but not really revelatory amount of research for the book Some of the scholarship relies heavily on existing histories and there doesn t seem to be a ot of deep research that would
bring out a ot of new facts muchout a Art lot of new facts Much the company s story has never been told so we really do not know how involved Republic Steel s top management was involved in opposing the strike in Chicago or what the thoughts feelings policies and decisions made by the plant socal God Is in the Crowd leadership were Nor is there much here about police or cityeadership Nearly all the story is told "from the union side perspective which makes for excellent abor history but for an incomplete historical record. Nly in the "the union side perspective which makes for excellent abor history but for an incomplete historical record. Nly in the year would Congress pass the Fair Labor Standards Act which established a minimum wage and a maximum work week outlawed child The Matriarchs (The Family labor and regulated hazardous work Like the Wagner Act that protected collective bargaining thisaw aimed to protect workers who had suffered the worst of what the Great Depression had inflicted Dennis‘s wide angle perspective reveals the Memorial Day Massacre as not simply another bloody incident in the Notes for the Everlost long story ofabor management tension in American history but as an illustration of the broad based movement for social democracy which developed in the New Deal era. Id dearly for the of all who work for a iving This is a solid but rather short history of the Little Steel Strike of 1937 It works as an introduction to the strike and the strike s effects in Chicago which culminated in the Memorial Day Massacre in which 10 striking workers and their family members were killed by the Chicago Police Department and another 60 to 100 people woundedA No Biggy! little background The American Federation of Labor founded in 1886 had focused only on organized highly skilled craft workers By the 1930s however mass production had supplanted skilledabor "In Most American Industries "most American industries group of unions tried to organize industrially eg those unskilled mass production workers and got ejected from the AFL They formed their own group the Congress of Industrial Organization CIO on November 9 1936Steel production was America s biggest industry in the 1930s and its wealthiest Three uarters of all production came from US Steel John L Lewis president of the United Mine Workers of America as well as the CIO hobnobbed with industry Crush It! leaders One of those he knew was Myron Taylor chairman of the board of directors of US Steel Lewis secretly met with Taylor and they discussed Lewis commitment to organizing workers at US Steel Taylor shocked at the massive inroads the Steel Workers Organizing Committee SWOC had made at his company capitulated On March 2 1937 US Steel signed a collective bargaining agreement with SWOCSWOC believed that Little Steel would swiftly follow This term referred to the seven nextargest steel companies in America American Rolling Mills Bethlehem Steel Inland Steel Jones and Laughin Steel Republic Steel National Steel and Youngstown Sheet TubeSWOC proved tragically wrong Led by Tom Girdler CEO of Republic Steel Little Steel violently resisted the union organizing drive 80000 workers struck at 30 steel mills in Pennsylvania Ohio Indiana Illinois Alabama and GeorgiaRepublic Steel was the Attracting Birds to Your Backyard largest of the Little Steel companies with than 9000 workers At its Chicago plant about 1500 workers were on strike On May 30 1937 workers their families and several hundred supporters picnicked onand opposite Republic Steel s plant on Chicago s South Side The crowd attempted to picket in front of the plant Republic Steel Doubts the importance of the Memorial Day Massacre Michael Dennis identifies it as a focal point in the Deep Listening larger effort to revitalize American euality during the New Deal In Blood on Steel Dennis shows how the incident captured on film by Paramount newsreels validated the claims ofabor activists and catalyzed public opinion in their favor In the aftermath of the massacre Senate hearings Bird-by-Bird Gardening laid bare patterns of anti union aggression among management ranging from blacklists to harassment and vigilante violence Companies were determined to subvert the right to form a union which Congress had finally recognized in 1935