• Choice 1988 Outstanding Academic Book
• Named one of the Best Business Books of 1988 by USA Today
A veteran reporter of American labor analyzes the spectacular and tragic collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s. John Hoerr’s account of these events stretches from the industrywide barganing failures of 1982 to the crippling work stoppage at USX (U.S. Steel) in 1986-87. He interviewed scores of steelworkers, company managers at all levels, and union officials, and was present at many of the crucial events he describes. Using historical flashbacks to the origins of the steel industry, particularly in the Monongahela Valley of southwestern Pennsylvania, he shows how an obsolete and adversarial relationship between management and labor made it impossible for the industry to adapt to shattering changes in the global economy.
Paul Krause calls upon the methods and insights of labor history, intellectual history, anthropology, and the history of technology to situate the events of the lockout and their significance in the broad context of America’s Guilded Age. Utilizing extensive archival material, much of it heretofore unknown, he reconstructs the social, intellectual, and political climate of the burgeoning post-Civil War steel industry.
Crisis In Bethlehem
John Strohmeyer University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994 Library of Congress HD9519.B4S87 1994 | Dewey Decimal 338.766914209748
Pulitzer Prize winner John Strohmeyer’s account of the collapse of Bethlehem Steel. As editor of the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Globe-Times from 1956 to 1984, Strohmeyer followed the steel industry from the height of its power through its decline. He evaluates the self-indulgence of both the unions and industry management and movingly describes the human agony caused by the failure of steel. His account is reinforced by over one hundred interviews with steelworkers, union leaders, steel executives, and industry analysts. First issued in 1986, the book is more significant than ever. In this edition, Strohmeyer includes an update on steel today.
Not all workers' needs were served by the union. Focusing on the steel works at Duquesne, Pennsylvania, a linchpin of the old Carnegie Steel Company empire and then of U.S. Steel, James D. Rose demonstrates the pivotal role played by a nonunion form of employee representation usually dismissed as a flimsy front for management interests.
The early New Deal set in motion two versions of workplace representation that battled for supremacy: company-sponsored employee representation plans (ERPs) and independent trade unionism. At Duquesne, the cause of the unskilled, hourly workers, mostly eastern and southern Europeans as well as blacks, was taken up by the union -- the Fort Dukane Lodge of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers. For skilled tonnage workers and skilled tradesmen, mainly U.S.-born and of northern and western European extraction, ERPs offered a better solution.
Initially little more than a crude antiunion device, ERPs matured from tools of the company into semi-independent, worker-led organizations. Isolated from the union movement through the mid-1930s, ERP representatives and management nonetheless created a sophisticated bargaining structure that represented the shop-floor interests of the mill's skilled workforce. Meanwhile, the Amalgamated gave way to the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, a professionalized and tightly organized affiliate of John L. Lewis's CIO that expended huge resources trying to gain companywide unionization. Even when the SWOC secured a collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Steel in 1937, however, the Union was still unable to sign up a majority of the workforce at Duquesne.
A sophisticated study of the forces that shaped and responded to workers' interests, Duquesne and the Rise of Steel Unionism confirms that what people did on the shop floor was as critical to the course of steel unionism as were corporate decision making and shifts in government policy.
Well after the disintegration of the Communist Party and the Soviet state--and through several years of economic collapse--industrial workers in almost every sector of the former Soviet Union have remained quiescent and the same ineffective and unpopular trade unions still hold a virtual monopoly on worker's representation. Why? While many argue that labor is a central variable in the development of economic and political systems, little is known about workers in the states of the former Soviet Union since the fall of Communism. In a comparative study of two groups of industrial workers--the coal miners and steelworkers--at the end of the Soviet era, Stephen Crowley sheds light on where these workers have been and where they are going.
Coal miners in the final years of the Soviet Union effectively organized and led strikes which supported the end of Communism, even though their heavy subsidies would be threatened by capitalism. Steel workers, in contrast, did not effectively organize and strike. This pattern has continued under the new governments, with the coal miners effectively organized and seeking protection from the worst consequences of marketization, while the steel workers remain weakly organized despite deteriorating economic conditions.
Based on extensive on-site research including interviews with miners and steelworkers, labor leaders and plant managers, Crowley develops a detailed picture of the conditions under which workers organize. His findings have application beyond the conditions of post-Communist Russia and Ukraine to other societies undergoing fundamental change.
This book will be of interest to sociologists and political scientists interested in the role of labor in transitional societies, the patterns of organization of labor, as well as area specialists.
Stephen Crowley is Associate Professor of Political Science, Oberlin College.
Conceived as a prologue to the 1930s industrial-union triumph in steel, Labor in Crisis explains the failure of unionization before the New Deal era and the reasons for mass-production unionism's eventual success.
Widely regarded as a failure, the great 1919 steel strike had both immediate and far-reaching consequences that are important to the history of American labor. It helped end the twelve-hour day, dramatized the issues of the rights to organize and to engage in collective bargaining, and forwarded progress toward the passage of the Wagner Act, which, in turn, helped trigger John L. Lewis's decision to launch the CIO.
Portraits of self-made men are rife in Western culture, as James V. Catano observes. Positive and negative, admittedly fictional and ostensibly factual, these portraits endure because the general rhetorical practice embodied in the myth of the self-made man enacts both the need and the very means for making oneself masculine: verbal power and prowess. The myth of the self-made man, in short, is part of ongoing rhetorical practices that constitute society, culture, and subjects.
To explain those practices and their effectiveness, Catano argues that the basic narrative achieves much of its effectiveness by engaging and enacting the traditional psychological dynamics of the family romance: preoedipal separation, oedipal conflict, and “ proper” postoedipal self-definition and socialization.
To focus on the combined social, psychological, and rhetorical dynamics that constitute the ongoing activity he calls masculine self-making, Catano emphasizes a particular strand: masculinity and steelmaking. Pursuing that strand, he argues that these representations of masculine self-making are rhetorical enactments of cultural needs and desires, and that they are ongoing and formative arguments about what society and its individuals either are or should be.
The River Ran Red
David P. Demarest University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992 Library of Congress HD5325.I5 1892H75 1992 | Dewey Decimal 331.892869142097
The violence that erupted at Carnegie Steel's giant Homestead mill near Pittsburgh on July 6. 1892, caused a congressional investigation and trials for treason, motivated a nearly successful assassination attempt on Frick, contributed to the defeat of President Benjamin Harrison for a second term, and changed the course of the American labor movement.
"The River Ran Red" commemorates the one-hundredth anniversary of the Homestead strike of 1892. Instead of retelling the story of the strike, it recreates the events of that summer in excerpts from contemporary newspapers and magazines, reproductions of pen-and-ink sketches and photographs made on the scene, passages from the congressional investigation that resulted from the strike, first-hand accounts by observers and participants, and poems, songs, and sermons from across the country. Contributions by outstanding scholars provide the context for understanding the social and cultural aspects of the strike, as well as its violence.
"The River Ran Red" is the collaboration of a team of writers, archivists, and historians, including Joseph Frazier Wall, who writes of the role of Andrew Carnegie at Homestead, and David Montgomery, who considers the significance of the Homestead Strike for the present. The book is both readable and richly illustrated. It recalls public and personal reactions to an event in our history who's reverberations can still be felt today.
The Steel Workers
John Fitch University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988 Library of Congress HD8039.I52U54 1989 | Dewey Decimal 331.766914209749
This classic account of the worker in the steel industry during the early years of the twentieth century combines the social investigator’s mastery of facts with the vivid personal touch of the journalist. From its pages emerges a finely etched picture of how men lived and worked in steel.
In 1907-1908, when John Fitch spent more than a year in Pittsburgh interviewing workers, steel was the master industry of the region. It employed almost 80,000 workers and virtually controlled social and civic life.
Fitch observed steel workers on the job, and he describes succinctly the prevailing technology of iron and steelmaking: the blast furnace crews, the puddlers and rollers; the crucible, Bessemer, and open hearth processes. He examined the health problems and accidents which resulted from the pressure of long hours, hazardous machinery, and speed-ups in production. He also anaylzed the early experiments in welfare capitolism, such as accident prevention and compensation, and pensions.
One of the six volumes in the famous Pittsburgh Survey (1909-1914), The Steel Workers remains a readable and timeless account of labor conditions in the early years of the steel industry. An introduction by the noted historian Roy Lubove places the book in political and historical context and makes it especially suitable for classroom use.
Gerald G. Eggert provides a fascinating inside view of top steel officials arguing their positions on various labor reforms—stock purchase plans, employer liability, employee representation, and elimination of the twelve-hour shift and seven-day work week, during the late eighteen and early nineteenth century.
A study of the immigrants who flocked to this Central Pennsylvania steel town in the late nineteenth century in search of employment. Comprised primarily of Southern blacks and Eastern European immigrants, they formed the lower class of this town. Analyzes the social structure and dominance of the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant elite.
This edition of one of the seminal books in labor includes a new preface
as well as a symposium on the book in which seven prominent historians
discuss its significance and its place in the historiography of labor.
"Steelworkers in America has emerged and remained one of
the few genuinely classic works of U.S. labor history--one of the axiomatic
starting points for any understanding of the new labor history."
-- Roy Rosenzweig
"The vision of Steelworkers has survived these thirty years
and continues to inspire new work in labor history." -- Lizabeth
Jack Metzgar Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress HD8039.I52U574 2000 | Dewey Decimal 331.892869142092
Having come of age during a period of vibrant union-centered activism, Jack Metzgar begins this book wondering how his father, a U.S> Steel shop steward in the 1950s and '60s, and so many contemporary historians could forget what this country owes to the union movement.
Combining personal memoir and historical narrative, Striking Steel argues for reassessment of unionism in American life during the second half of the twentieth century and a recasting of "official memory." As he traces the history of union steelworkers after World War II, Metzgar draws on his father's powerful stories about the publishing work in the mills, stories in which time is divided between "before the union" and since. His father, Johnny Metzgar, fought ardently for workplace rules as a means of giving "the men" some control over their working conditions and protection from venal foremen. He pursued grievances until he eroded management's authority, and he badgered foremen until he established shop-floor practices that would become part of the next negotiated contract. As a passionate advocate of solidarity, he urged coworkers to stick together so that the rules were upheld and everyone could earn a decent wage.
Striking Steel's pivotal event is the four-month nationwide steel strike of 1959, a landmark union victory that has been all but erased from public memory. With remarkable tenacity, union members held out for the shop-floor rules that gave them dignity in the workplace and raised their standard of living. Their victory underscored the value of sticking together and reinforced their sense that they were contributing to a general improvement in American working and living conditions.
The Metzgar family's story vividly illustrates the larger narrative of how unionism lifted the fortunes and prospects of working-class families. It also offers an account of how the broad social changes of the period helped to shift the balance of power in a conflict-ridden, patriarchal household. Even if the optimism of his generation faded in the upheavals of the 1960s, Johnny Metzgar's commitment to his union and the strike itself stands as an honorable example of what a collective action can and did achieve. Jack Metzgar's Striking Steel is a stirring call to remember and renew the struggle.
In 1986, with little warning, the USX Homestead Works closed. Thousands of workers who depended on steel to survive were left without work. A Town Without Steel looks at the people of Homestead as they reinvent their views of household and work and place in this world. The book details the modifications and revisions of domestic strategies in a public crisis. In some ways unique, and in some ways typical of American industrial towns, the plight of Homestead sheds light on social, cultural, and political developments of the late twentieth century.
In this anthropological and photographic account of a town facing the crisis of deindustrialization, A Town Without Steel focuses on families. Reminiscent of Margaret Byington and Lewis Hine’s approach in Homestead, Charlee Brodsky’s photographs document the visual dimension of change in Homestead. The mill that dominated the landscape transformed to a vast, empty lot; a crowded commercial street turns into a ghost town; and an abundance of well-kept homes become an abandoned street of houses for sale. The individual narratives and family snapshots, Modell’s interpretations, and Brodsky’s photographs all evoke the tragedy and the resilience of a town whose primary source of self-identification no longer exists.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Saar river valley was one of the three most productive heavy industrial regions in Germany and one of the main reference points for national debates over the organization of work in large-scale industry. Among Germany's leading opponents of trade unions, Saar employers were revered for their system of factory organization, which was both authoritarian and paternalistic, stressing discipline and punitive measures and seeking to regulate behavior on and off the job. In its repressive and beneficent dimensions, the Saar system provided a model for state labor and welfare policy during much of the 1880s and 1890s.
Dennis Sweeney examines the relationship between labor relations in heavy industry and public life in the Saar as a means of tracing some of the wider political-ideological changes of the era. Focusing on the changing discourses, representations, and institutions that gave shape and meaning to factory work and labor conflict in the Saar, Work, Race, and the Emergence of Radical Right Corporatism in Imperial Germany demonstrates the ways in which Saar factory culture and labor relations were constituted in wider fields of public discourse and anchored in the institutions of the local-regional public sphere and the German state. Of particular importance is the gradual transition in the Saar from a paternalistic workplace to a corporatist factory regime, a change that brought with it an authoritarian vision that ultimately converged with core elements in the ideological discourses of the German radical Right, including the National Socialists. This volume will be of interest to scholars and students of labor, industrial organization, ideology and political culture, and the genealogies of Nazism.
Dennis Sweeney is Associate Professor of History at the University of Alberta.
"The author makes a very insightful argument about the emergence of a kind of scientific racism within the new corporatism, one that brings biopolitics into German industry prior to the rise of National Socialism. This book will be an important contribution to the history of Imperial Germany, and has much potential to appeal to audiences in other fields of history."
---Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University