Essay Topic on Labor Unions
There were many factors that influenced the outcome of the strike. That winter Colorado experienced the worst snowfall it’s seen in 30 years. Strikebreakers were brought in from other states although it was against the law. Mother Jones, an inspirational figure and leader, was restricted from entering the area and attention to the strike was deferred because of the ongoing trouble with Mexico. But, the most significant factor was the violence. The militiamen and Colorado National Guard (sent in by Governor Ammons) constantly exchanged blows with the strikers.More often than not those on the side of the company were the ones that came out on top. Rockefeller Jr., the owner of C. F. & I. never intervened. Allegations of brutality on the part of the National Guard were investigated and found to be true but no one was charged. Only when the state ran out of money was the National Guard sent packing. The two troops left behind (Company B and Troop A) were the troops involved in the Ludlow Massacre that occurred April 20, 1914. After this, the violence between sides got worse, and eventually federal troops were sent into the area as President Wilson declared that everyone be cleared out by April 30. For the next seven months trials and negotiations proceeded. Again no one on the side of C. F. & I. was punished for what they had done. After sixty-six people were killed on the strikers’ side, they had nothing to show for it-no laws, nothing. On December 14, 1914, bitter and defeated, the United Mine Workers of America called off their strike.
Another labor struggle that ended in vain was the New York musician strike against technology in music in. In the 1920’s technology in the movie theater was rapidly advancing and in-house musicians were quickly becoming obsolete. Vitophone, Movietone, and Photophone technology put “canned sound” along with or directly onto to movie. The musicians wanted to do something about all of the layoffs they had experienced because of the new technology. They formed the AFM (American Federation of Musicians) to try and fight this exploitation of their careers. The loss of work was also especially hated because it coincided with the stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting Great Depression.
This “strike” was fought over a decade and was never very potent. The AFM was constantly making new proposals to try to fix the situation. They made many unrealistic demands that from the start had almost no chance of being accepted by the theaters and theater companies. For example, at the AFM national convention of 1928 they proposed an admissions hike for movie patrons or a pay cut. True, these were not that unreasonable, but as time went on they became more and more desperate to find ways to stop the job loss that was occurring.
They wanted to stop studio recording altogether, an unfeasible task. They wanted to raise the price of the canned music, charge fifty percent extra for valued in-house musicians, and others things to help generate extra revenue for nonworking musicians. (135) But their main goal was to make people see that live music was better than canned music. The AFM thought that if they could just convince the theater that this is what the public still wanted, then their jobs would be restored.
So they decided to go about their strike by launching a “bring back flesh” campaign. But their battle lasted over a decade with little success because there was a huge lack of visibility. Even when they were bombing theaters they were never really suspected or charged and little attention was drawn from it. They focused mainly on picketing, parades, and propaganda. The area they put the most effort into was propaganda. They made pins, flyers, pamphlets, and tried exceedingly hard to convince the public that this is what they really wanted to see.
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