The Causes and Effects of the Homestead Strike

Topics: Andrew Carnegie, Pinkerton National Detective Agency, Homestead Strike Pages: 5 (1702 words) Published: March 18, 2004
The Homestead Strike was a very violent, but important event to the people of the American Business Industry. The violent act of a desperate businessman, in attempt to retain peace, killed many men. The infamous story of the Pinkertons changed the ways of American business agreements. The Homestead Strike changed the traditional American business environment by creating new laws and the awareness of the need for peace in business world.

The Carnegie Steel Company was a successful factory, which employed many hundred of workers. Andrew Carnegie, who was the owner of the company, wanted a large successful business, which he had achieved already, but he was always looking for ways to save and make more money. By 1892, unions had been formed (Gardner p. 70). The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, founded in 1876, it quickly became the largest union with some 24,000 workers (Ciment p. 33). The union prevented Andrew Carnegie from lowering cost and wages.

By 1900, Carnegie's steel was cheap. Suddenly bridges and skyscrapers were not only possible but also affordable. Steel fed national growth, accelerating the already booming industrial area. Steel meant more jobs, national stature, and a higher quality of life for many. For Carnegie's workers, however, cheap steel meant lower wages, less job security, and the end of creative labor. Carnegie's drive for efficiency cost steel workers their unions and control over their own labor.

Only 325 of the 3,800 workers of the Carnegie Steel Company were members of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. The small group of high-paid workers that belonged to the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers helped battled the company over wages and rights of workers. They fought over working conditions. One of the worst working conditions of the Carnegie Steel Company was the fact that they paid absolutely no hazard pay. Approximately 300 men were killed and another 2,000 were injured while working there. The Carnegie Steel Company offered no reimbursement whatsoever to the families of the men killed or to the injured men themselves (Gardner p. 65). The Amalgamated members at Homestead also "badgered the company into acceding to most of its demands." (Gardner p. 65)

The company was forced into many decisions by the Amalgamated members at Homestead. The union (Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers) was a very powerful force, and Andrew Carnegie wanted the union gone (Ciment p. 33). Without the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers the company would've been able to change wages without confrontation.

The union and the rest of the workers contracts' were set to expire on June 30, 1892. In 1889, workers had won a strike and negotiated a three-year contract for fluctuating scale depending on profit (Goldner p. 1). Andrew Carnegie left Henry Clay Frick in charge of battling the contract dispute. Henry Clay Frick was known for his anti-union policy. The two sides disputing the contract agreement continued to have meetings and could not reach an agreement. The workers tried to hang Frick and superintendent J.A. Potter on mill property to express their disgruntlement (Goldner p. 1). The workers were extremely irritated and felt that the company was not reasonable, practical, or rational.

The union and non-union workers tried hard together under the management of Hugh O'Donnell, an active member of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, to reach an agreement. Three more conferences between the two sides took place between March and June. "Frick then announced that he would no longer work the Amalgamated and that work would commence as usual on July 6th, without recognition of the Union (Goldner p. 1). This angered the workers and in a meeting, 3,800 workers voted to strike (Goldner p. 1). This was a surprisingly larger amount of strikers then the company was prepared for.

Frick contracted with William and...
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