• 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.
The Andrew Carnegie Reader
Joseph Frazier Wall University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992 Library of Congress CT275.C3A25 1992 | Dewey Decimal 338.7672092
“Andrew Carnegie is the only American entrepreneur who could have won distinction as an author, even if he had never seen a steel mill,” writes Joseph Frazier Wall. A skillful and prolific writer, Andrew Carnegie published sixty three articles in major magazines of his time, such as The North American Review, and eight books. Although he is best remembered today for the radical philosophy expressed in the title essay of his book The Gospel of Wealth, his other writings are readable and provocative.
The Andrew Carnegie Reader is the first anthology to bring together in a single volume a representative selection of Carnegie’s writings which show him as a shrewd businessman, celebrated philanthropist, champion of democracy, and eternal optimist. Carnegie’s first letter to the editor at the age of seventeen was the beginning of a lifelong attempt to satisfy an insatiable journalistic desire. Always voluble and candid, Carnegie was as active with his pen as with his tongue.
This intriguing collection covers sixty years of the industrial giant’s life, from his letters to his cousin George Lauder, written in 1853, to the final chapter od his autobiography, completed in 1914. In his own simple, abrupt style, colored with fierce optimism, Carnegie captivated his audience.
Although most of the selections were penned for an audience now long gone, today’s reader will be intrigued by the pertinence and timelessness of Carnegie’s hopes for world peace, his views on labor, and his concern for better race relations in America and their continuing applicability to humankind. A brief essay by the editor introduces each selection.
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.
In the late 19th century, rails from Bethlehem Steel helped build the United States into the world's foremost economy. During the 1890s, Bethlehem became America's leading supplier of heavy armaments, and by 1914, it had pioneered new methods of structural steel manufacture that transformed urban skylines. Demand for its war materials during World War I provided the finance for Bethlehem to become the world's second-largest steel maker. As late as 1974, the company achieved record earnings of $342 million. But in the 1980s and 1990s, through wildly fluctuating times, losses outweighed gains, and Bethlehem struggled to downsize and reinvest in newer technologies. By 2001, in financial collapse, it reluctantly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Two years later, International Steel Group acquired the company for $1.5 billion.
In Bethlehem Steel, Kenneth Warren presents an original and compelling history of a leading American company, examining the numerous factors contributing to the growth of this titan and those that eventually felled it—along with many of its competitors in the U.S. steel industry.
Warren considers the investment failures, indecision and slowness to abandon or restructure outdated “integrated” plants plaguing what had become an insular, inward-looking management group. Meanwhile competition increased from more economical “mini mills” at home and from new, technologically superior plants overseas, which drove world prices down, causing huge flows of imported steel into the United States.
Bethlehem Steel provides a fascinating case study in the transformation of a major industry from one of American dominance to one where America struggled to survive.
At its formation in 1901, the United States Steel Corporation was the earth’s biggest industrial corporation, a wonder of the manufacturing world. Immediately it produced two thirds of America’s raw steel and thirty percent of the steel made worldwide. The behemoth company would go on to support the manufacturing superstructure of practically every other industry in America. It would create and sustain the economies of many industrial communities, especially Pittsburgh, employing more than a million people over the course of the century.
A hundred years later, the U.S. Steel Group of USX makes scarcely ten percent of the steel in the United States and just over one and a half percent of global output. Far from the biggest, the company is now considered the most efficient steel producer in the world. What happened between then and now, and why, is the subject of Big Steel, the first comprehensive history of the company at the center of America’s twentieth-century industrial life.
Granted privileged and unprecedented access to the U.S. Steel archives, Kenneth Warren has sifted through a long, complex business history to tell a compelling story. Its preeminent size was supposed to confer many advantages to U.S. Steel—economies of scale, monopolies of talent, etc. Yet in practice, many of those advantages proved illusory. Warren shows how, even in its early years, the company was out-maneuvered by smaller competitors and how, over the century, U.S. Steel’s share of the industry, by every measure, steadily declined.
Warren’s subtle analysis of years of internal decision making reveals that the company’s size and clumsy hierarchical structure made it uniquely difficult to direct and manage. He profiles the chairmen who grappled with this “lumbering giant,” paying particular attention to those who long ago created its enduring corporate culture—Charles M. Schwab, Elbert H. Gary, and Myron C. Taylor.
Warren points to the way U.S. Steel’s dominating size exposed it to public scrutiny and government oversight—a cautionary force. He analyzes the ways that labor relations affected company management and strategy. And he demonstrates how U.S. Steel suffered gradually, steadily, from its paradoxical ability to make high profits while failing to keep pace with the best practices. Only after the drastic pruning late in the century—when U.S. Steel reduced its capacity by two-thirds—did the company become a world leader in steel-making efficiency, rather than merely in size.
These lessons, drawn from the history of an extraordinary company, will enrich the scholarship of industry and inform the practice of business in the twenty-first century.
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.
Winner of CLR James Book Prize from the Working Class Studies Association and 2nd Place for the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing.
In 1980, Christine J. Walley’s world was turned upside down when the steel mill in Southeast Chicago where her father worked abruptly closed. In the ensuing years, ninety thousand other area residents would also lose their jobs in the mills—just one example of the vast scale of deindustrialization occurring across the United States. The disruption of this event propelled Walley into a career as a cultural anthropologist, and now, in Exit Zero, she brings her anthropological perspective home, examining the fate of her family and that of blue-collar America at large.
Interweaving personal narratives and family photos with a nuanced assessment of the social impacts of deindustrialization, Exit Zero is one part memoir and one part ethnography— providing a much-needed female and familial perspective on cultures of labor and their decline. Through vivid accounts of her family’s struggles and her own upward mobility, Walley reveals the social landscapes of America’s industrial fallout, navigating complex tensions among class, labor, economy, and environment. Unsatisfied with the notion that her family’s turmoil was inevitable in the ever-forward progress of the United States, she provides a fresh and important counternarrative that gives a new voice to the many Americans whose distress resulting from deindustrialization has too often been ignored.
This book is part of a project that also includes a documentary film.
Charles Schwab was known to his employees, business associates, and competitors as a congenial and charismatic person-a 'born salesman.' Yet Schwab was much more than a salesman-he was a captain of industry, a man who streamlined and economized the production of steel and ran the largest steelmaking conglomerate in the world. A self-made man, he became one of the wealthiest Americans during the Gilded Age, only to die penniless in 1939.
Schwab began his career as a stake driver at Andrew Carnegie's Edgar Thomson steel works in Pittsburgh at the age of seventeen. By thirty-five, he was president of Carnegie Steel. In 1901, he helped form the U.S. Steel Corporation, a company that produced well over half the nation's iron and steel. In 1904, Schwab left U.S. Steel to head Bethlehem Steel, which after twelve years under his leadership, became the second-largest steel producer in America. President Woodrow Wilson called on Schwab to head the Emergency Fleet Corporation to produce merchant ships for the transport of troops and materials abroad during World War I.
Kenneth Warren presents a compelling biography that chronicles the startling success of Schwab's business career, his leadership abilities, and his drive to advance steel-making technology and operations. Through extensive research and use of previously unpublished archival documentation, Warren offers a new perspective on the life of a monumental figure--a true visionary--in the industrial history of America.
“For years I have been convinced that there is not an honest bone in your body. Now I know that you are a god-damned thief,” Henry Clay Frick reportedly told Andrew Carnegie at their last meeting in 1900, just before J. P. Morgan bought the Carnegie Steel Company and founded United States Steel.
Three years later, James Bridge, who had served as Carnegie's personal secretary, published this book. In it he recounted the events that led up to the final confrontation between two of America's most powerful capitalists. The book created a sensation when it appeared in 1903. Not only did it describe the raw emotions of Carnegie and Frick, those most brilliant and uneasy of business partners, it also told of the history and inner workings of the industrial giant, Carnegie Steel.
Bridge was an open partisan of Frick, and the portrait of Carnegie that emerges from this book is not flattering. But he was an experienced journalist, and he uses sources carefully. His book remains a striking insider's narrative of the American steel industry in the last decades of the nineteenth century-as well as the most revealing account of the emotions of some of its major owners.
The introduction by John Ingram places the book in perspective for both the historian and general reader.
Youngstown, Ohio, and the surrounding Mahoning Valley supplied the iron that helped transform the United States into an industrial powerhouse in the nineteenth century. The story of the Mahoning Valley’s unorthodox rise from mid-scale iron producer to twentieth-century “Steel Valley” is a tale of innovation, stagnation, and, above all, extreme change. Located halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the Mahoning Valley became a major supplier of pig iron to America’s biggest industrial regions. For much of the nineteenth century, outside consumers relied on the Valley’s pig iron, but this reliance nurtured a reluctance on the part of Youngstown iron companies to diversify or expand their production.
In Iron Valley: The Transformation of the Iron Industry in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, 1802–1913, Clayton J. Ruminski argues that Youngstown-area iron manufacturers were content to let others in the industry innovate, and only modernized when market conditions forced them to do so. Desperate to find new markets, some Youngstown iron manufacturers eventually looked toward steel and endured a rapid, but successful, industrial transformation that temporarily kept their old enterprises afloat in a rapidly evolving industry. Richly illustrated with rare photographs of Mahoning Valley ironmasters, mills, furnaces, and workers, Iron Valley sheds light on a previously underrepresented and vital region that built industrial America.
When, how, and why did the state enterprise system of modern China take shape? The conventional argument is that China borrowed its economic system and development strategy wholesale from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. In an important new interpretation, Bian shows instead that the basic institutional arrangement of state-owned enterprise--bureaucratic governance, management and incentive mechanisms, and the provision of social services and welfare--developed in China during the war years 1937-1945.
From 1915 to 1971 the large U.S. Steel plant was a major part of Duluth’s landscape and life. Just as important was Morgan Park—an innovatively planned and close-knit community constructed for the plant’s employees and their families. In this new book Arnold R. Alanen brings to life Morgan Park, the formerly company-controlled town that now stands as a city neighborhood, and the U.S. Steel plant for which it was built.
Planned by renowned landscape architects, architects, and engineers, and provided with schools, churches, and recreational and medical services by U.S. Steel, Morgan Park is an iconic example—like Lowell, Massachusetts, and Pullman, Illinois—of a twentieth-century company town, as well as a window into northeastern Minnesota’s industrial roots.
Starting with the intense political debates that preceded U.S. Steel’s decision to build a plant in Duluth, Morgan Park follows the town and its residents through the boom years to the closing of the outmoded facility—an event that foreshadowed industrial shutdowns elsewhere in the United States—and up to today, as current residents work to preserve the community’s historic character.
Through compelling archival and contemporary photographs and vibrant stories of a community built of concrete and strong as steel, Alanen shows the impact both the plant and Morgan Park have had on life in Duluth.
Arnold R. Alanen is professor of landscape architecture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His previous books include Main Street Ready-Made: The New Deal Community of Greendale, Wisconsin and Preserving Cultural Landscapes in America.
Out Of This Furnace
Thomas Bell University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976 Library of Congress PZ3.B4153Ou12 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Out of This Furnace is Thomas Bell’s most compelling achievement. Its story of three generations of an immigrant Slovak family -- the Dobrejcaks -- still stands as a fresh and extraordinary accomplishment.
The novel begins in the mid-1880s with the naive blundering career of Djuro Kracha. It tracks his arrival from the old country as he walked from New York to White Haven, his later migration to the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and his eventual downfall through foolish financial speculations and an extramarital affair. The second generation is represented by Kracha’s daughter, Mary, who married Mike Dobrejcak, a steel worker. Their decent lives, made desperate by the inhuman working conditions of the mills, were held together by the warm bonds of their family life, and Mike’s political idealism set an example for the children. Dobie Dobrejcak, the third generation, came of age in the 1920s determined not to be sacrificed to the mills. His involvement in the successful unionization of the steel industry climaxed a half-century struggle to establish economic justice for the workers.
Out of This Furnace is a document of ethnic heritage and of a violent and cruel period in our history, but it is also a superb story. The writing is strong and forthright, and the novel builds constantly to its triumphantly human conclusion.
In response to the tragedy of the Ludlow Massacre, John D. Rockefeller Jr. introduced one of the nation’s first employee representation plans (ERPs) to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in 1915. With the advice of William Mackenzie King, who would go on to become prime minister of Canada, the plan—which came to be known as the Rockefeller Plan—was in use until 1942 and became the model for ERPs all over the world.In Representation and Rebellion Jonathan Rees uses a variety of primary sources—including records recently discovered at the company’s former headquarters in Pueblo, Colorado—to tell the story of the Rockefeller Plan and those who lived under it, as well as to detail its various successes and failures. Taken as a whole, the history of the Rockefeller Plan is not the story of ceaseless oppression and stifled militancy that its critics might imagine, but it is also not the story of the creation of a paternalist panacea for labor unrest that Rockefeller hoped it would be.Addressing key issues of how this early twentieth-century experiment fared from 1915 to 1942, Rees argues that the Rockefeller Plan was a limited but temporarily effective alternative to independent unionism in the wake of the Ludlow Massacre. The book will appeal to business and labor historians, political scientists, and sociologists, as well as those studying labor and industrial relations.
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.
Singing the City is an eloquent tribute to a way of life largely disappearing in America, using Pittsburgh as a lens. Graham is not blind to the damage industry has done—both to people and to the environment, but she shows us that there is also a rich human story that has gone largely untold, one that reveals, in all its ambiguities, the place of the industrial landscape in the heart.
Singing the City is a celebration of a landscape that through most of its history has been unabashedly industrial. Convinced that industrial landscapes are too little understood and appreciated, Graham set out to investigate the city’s landscape, past and present, and to learn the lessons she sensed were there about living a good life. The result, told in both her voice and the distinctive voices of the people she meets, is a powerful contribution to the literature of place.
Graham begins by showing the city as an outgrowth of its geography and its geology—the factors that led to its becoming an industrial place. She describes the human investment in the area: the floods of immigrants who came to work in the mills in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, their struggles within the domains of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. She evokes the superhuman aura of making steel by taking the reader to still functioning mills and uncovers for us a richness of tradition in ethnic neighborhoods that survives to this day.
The creation of wealth depends on the capacity of economic actors to adapt to market changes. Such adaptation, in turn, poses fundamental questions about the distribution of resources. Daley investigates the interaction among business, labor, and the state in France in the second half of the twentieth century and reveals how political dynamics refract market pressures. He explains how and why profitability came at the expense of union mobilization, unemployment, and management autonomy, vast amounts of state aid, and less national control over industrial decision making.
Business genius and hedonist, Charles Schwab entered the steel industry as an unskilled laborer and within twenty years advanced to the presidency of Carnegie Steel. He later became the first president of U.S. Steel and then founder of Bethlehem Steel. His was one of the most spectacular and curious success stories in an era of great industrial giants.
How did Schwab progress from day laborer to titan of industry? Why did Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan select him to manage their multmillion-dollar enterprises? And how did he forfeit their confidence and lose the preseidency of U.S. Steel? Drawing upon previously undiscovered sources, Robert Hessen answers these questions in the first biography of Schwab.
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.
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.
Focusing on the steel industry during the post-communist transition from 1989 through 2009, Aleksandra Sznajder Lee traces the transformation of flagship state enterprises in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia into the subsidiaries of large, international corporations. By analyzing this transformation at the three levels of enterprise, sector, and national-international nexus, she identifies the players—from international investors and European Union members to national labor unions and local industry managers—in the political economy of reform. Even in the midst of the transition to a capitalist, democratic system, Sznajder Lee finds, the state plays a key role in mediating between domestic vested interests and external pressures from international financial markets and institutions, on the one hand, and regional institutions on the other. Whereas state power may be employed to require domestic firms to operate as capitalists in the international market, it may also be used to shield enterprises from market pressures in order to promote the political and personal preferences of the elite.
This book has broad implications for the political economy of reform because it illuminates the political determinants of privatization and the resources used to resist it. In addition, Sznajder Lee sheds new light on why some countries are more likely than others to be subject to external constraints, such as IMF conditionality, and how some allegedly pro-market reformers manage to maintain public ownership over certain industry sectors.
A detailed, carefully wrought business biography of Henry Clay Frick, one of the leading entrepreneurs in American heavy industry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kenneth Warren has provided not only insight into the life of Henry Clay Frick, but a major contribution to our understanding of the history of the basic industries, the shaping of society, locality, and region - and thereby of laying the foundations for the value systems and landscapes of present-day America.
Government seizure of the nation’s strikebound steel mills on 8 April 1952 stands as one of President Harry S Truman’s most controversial actions, representing an unprecedented use of presidential power. On 8 June 1952 the United States Supreme Court invalidated Truman’s order with its monumental decision in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer. The history and significance of this case constitute the subject of Maeva Marcus’s meticulously researched, brilliantly analyzed, and authoritative study. From Truman’s initial assertion of "inherent" executive power under the Constitution to the High Court’s seven opinions, Marcus assesses the influence of the case on the doctrine of separation of powers and, specifically, the nature and practice of executive authority. First published in 1977 (Columbia University Press), and reissued here in paperback with a new foreword by Louis Fisher, this book remains the definitive account of the Steel Seizure incident and its political and legal ramifications.
The company owned the houses. It owned the stores. It provided medical and governmental services. It provided practically all the jobs. Gary, West Virginia, a coal mining town in the southern part of the state, was a creation of U.S. Steel. And while the workers were not formally bound to the company, their fortunes—like that of their community—were inextricably tied to the success of U.S. Steel.
Gary developed in the early twentieth century as U.S. Steel sought a new supply of raw material for its industrial operations. The rich Pocahontas coal field in remote southern West Virginia provided the carbon-rich, low-sulfur coal the company required. To house the thousands of workers it would import to mine that coal bed, U.S. Steel carved a town out of the mountain wilderness. The company was the sole reason for its existence.
In this fascinating book, Ronald Garay tells the story of how industry-altering decisions made by U.S. Steel executives reverberated in the hollows of Appalachia. From the area’s industrial revolution in the early twentieth century to the peak of steel-making activity in the 1940s to the industry’s decline in the 1970s, U.S. Steel and Gary, West Virginia offers an illuminating example of how coal and steel paternalism shaped the eastern mountain region and the limited ways communities and their economies evolve. In telling the story of Gary, this volume freshly illuminates the stories of other mining towns throughout Appalachia.
At once a work of passionate journalism and a cogent analysis of economic development in Appalachia, this work is a significant contribution to the scholarship on U.S. business history, labor history, and Appalachian studies.
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