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Homestead Strike

HOMESTEAD STRIKE

HOMESTEAD STRIKE, at the Carnegie Steel Company plant at Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1892, was one of the most violent labor struggles in U.S. history. The company, owned by Andrew Carnegie and managed by Henry Clay Frick, was determined to break the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union, which represented 750 of Homestead's 3,800 laborers. Frick closed the mill and locked the workers out on 1 July, after they rejected his proposed 22 percent wage cut. While Carnegie remained at his castle in Scotland, Frick hired three hundred Pinkerton Detective Agency guards to battle the workers. A gunfight erupted when the Pinkertons attempted to land at the Monongahela River docks, and altogether at least sixteen people were killed and more than sixty wounded. The fighting ended on 12 July, when Pennsylvania National Guard troops arrived. The lockout continued for almost five months, while steel production continued at Carnegie's other plants. The Amalgamated Association was ultimately driven from Homestead, forcing the remaining desperate workers to return to their jobs. In the following decade, the average workday rose from eight to twelve hours, and wages dropped an average of 25 percent. By 1903 all other steel plants in the country had defeated the union as well.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Demarest, David P., and Fannia Weingartner, eds. "The River Ran Red": Homestead 1892. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.

Krause, Paul. The Battle for Homestead, 1880–1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.

JohnCashman

See alsoSteel Strikes .

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Homestead strike

Homestead strike, in U.S. history, a bitterly fought labor dispute. On June 29, 1892, workers belonging to the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers struck the Carnegie Steel Company at Homestead, Pa. to protest a proposed wage cut. Henry C. Frick, the company's general manager, determined to break the union. He hired 300 Pinkerton detectives to protect the plant and strikebreakers. After an armed battle between the workers and the detectives on July 6, in which several men were killed or wounded, the governor called out the state militia. The plant opened, nonunion workers stayed on the job, and the strike, which was officially called off on Nov. 20, was broken. The Homestead strike led to a serious weakening of unionism in the steel industry until the 1930s.

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