From the beginning of the Industrial Age and continuing into the twenty-first century, companies faced with militant workers and organizers have often turned to agencies that specialized in ending strikes and breaking unions. Although their secretive nature has made it difficult to fully explore the history of this industry, From Blackjacks to Briefcases does just that.
By digging through subpoenaed documents of strike-bound companies, their mercenaries, and the testimony of executive officers and rank-and-file strikebreakers, Robert Smith examines the inner workings of the antiunion industry. In a clear and lively style, he brings to life the violent armed guards employed on the picket line or in the coal camps; the ruffians who filled the armies marshaled by the “King of the Strikebreakers,” Pearl Bergoff; the labor spies who wrecked countless unions; and, after the Wagner Act, those who manipulated national labor law to serve their clients.
In From Blackjacks to Briefcases, Smith follows the history of this ongoing struggle and tells a compelling story that parallels the history of the United States over the last century and a half.