With the conductors, engineers, firemen, and brakemen who actually operated the trains unaffected by the strike, the railroad companies immediately began to replace the skilled and semi-skilled maintenance workers with strikebreakers. In unison, railroads began to establish living facilities for the strikebreakers inside their railway shops and in railroad cars and railroad guards were hired to protect property and defend strikebreakers. Commissaries and kitchens were established to provide for newly-hired workers, and newspaper advertising was published by a number of railway companies in an attempt to win public support for their strikebreaking efforts.

    Railway workers were divided not only by craft, however, but also by race. Several of the railway brotherhoods denied African-American workers membership in their ranks on strictly racial grounds; the excluded workers had no economic or moral incentive to honor the work stoppage. Thousands of black railway workers crossed picket lines and helped to undermine strike efforts, but that was not universal; in places like North Carolina, Louisiana, and El Paso, Texas, black workers actively supported the work stoppage.


I've actually got a job at a railroad now, and we deal with union laws a decent amount on the stuff we work on, so this is interesting to see.

posted by francopoli: 297 days ago