U.S. Steel U.S. Steel recognition strike of 1901 History of Pittsburgh
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U.S. Steel U.S. Steel recognition strike of 1901 History of Pittsburgh

U.S. Steel recognition strike of 1901

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The U.S. Steel recognition strike of 1901 was an attempt by the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers (the AA) to reverse its declining fortunes and organize large numbers of new members. The strike failed.

The AA had formed in 1876. It was a labor union of skilled iron and steel workers which was deeply committed to craft unionism . However, technological advances had reduced the number of skilled workers in both industries.

In 1892, the AA had lost a bitter strike at the Carnegie Steel Company ‘s steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania . The Homestead strike , which culminated with a day-long gun battle on July 6 that left 12 dead and dozens wounded, led to a wave of de-unionization. From a high of more than 24,000 members in 1892, union membership had sunk to less than 8,000 by 1900.

Contents

  • 1 Forces prompting the strike
  • 2 Beginning of the crisis
  • 3 The strike
  • 4 Aftermath
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 References
  • 7 See also

Forces prompting the strike[ edit ]

The AA looked for growth in the tin industry, which still required skilled workers. By 1900, the union had organized 75 percent of the sheet metal mills and all but one of the tin mills in the country. [1]

But the AA seriously misjudged both the economics and the technology underlying the tin industry. The formation of the American Tin Plate Company , a monopoly trust, on December 14, 1898, brought a number of nonunion plants into the union facilities of the American Tinplate Company . Daniel G. Reid , primary owner of the tin plate trust, agreed to recognize the AA at the nonunion plants after a token strike in 1899. The formation in March 1900 of the American Sheet Steel Company , another trust, also brought a number of nonunion plants together with unionized facilities. But this time the company refused to recognize the AA in the nonunion plants. Instead, the American Sheet Steel Co. idled its union facilities while keeping its nonunion works running at full speed. [2]

The AA attempted to counteract the power of the trusts by amending its constitution. A clause was added which required every mill in a trust to strike if even one mill in the trust struck. [3]

Beginning of the crisis[ edit ]

The formation of the U.S. Steel trust in 1901 threatened the AA with ruin. U.S. Steel not only combined Elbert Gary and J.P. Morgan ‘s Federal Steel with Andrew Carnegie’s steel operations, it also incorporated the plants of the American Tin Plate Co. The AA was confronted with a crisis: It had to organize the plants of U.S. Steel before the corporation, with its relatively infinite resources, could stop the union drives. But the executive committee of U.S. Steel was equally aware of the threat the AA posed, and the company’s board of directors secretly adopted a resolution on June 17, 1901, opposing any unionization attempt. U.S. Steel’s Tin Plate subsidiary reneged on promises to recognize the AA on the grounds that the union had not won contracts at every plant owned by the American Sheet Steel Co. Sheet Steel executives, meanwhile, not only refused to recognize the union at its nonunion plants but also began withdrawing recognition and refusing to bargain at its unionized plants. [4]

The strike[ edit ]

The AA tried to apply pressure on Sheet Steel by organizing U.S. Steel—the company which supplied Sheet Steel with most of its raw material. The AA settled on staging a recognition strike. U.S. Steel executives, worried about the impact of a strike during a high-demand time of the year and angered that Sheet Steel executives had provoked a strike with stridently anti-union actions, demanded a compromise. Subsequently, Sheet Steel officers agreed on July 13, 1901 to recognize the union at 18 of the company’s 23 nonunion plants. But AA president T.J. Shaffer rejected the deal; after having demanded the unionization of every Sheet Steel plant, he would not be satisfied with anything less. A meeting between Morgan and Shaffer (accompanied by AA secretary John Williams) resulted in an additional wage agreement. But this wage agreement, which covered only the existing unionized plants, was rejected by the AA executive board. [5]

At a meeting on August 3, 1901, Morgan refused to renegotiate the wage agreement. It had been agreed to by Shaffer and Williams, and he considered it binding. The AA executive board ordered Shaffer to call a strike, to begin on August 10. The strike was crushed. At several plants, workers refused to turn out at all. Union members in Illinois and Pennsylvania turned out in small numbers. Unionized facilities at the National Steel and National Tube subsidiaries turned out almost to a man, but the overall effect on U.S. Steel was too weak. Strikebreakers were pouring into plants by the thousands, and shuttered works were reopening. Shaffer appealed to Samuel Gompers , asking for American Federation of Labor support and the calling of a national labor conference to make the strike the federation’s main issue. Gompers refused. [6]

The strike against U.S. Steel ended on September 14, 1901. The AA settled for terms far worse than those offered in August. Only plants which had started and ended the strike were covered, which meant that the union lost recognition at 15 plants. The company even won a pledge from the union not to organize any plant not already unionized, and to reject any offer of affiliation from a unionized plant. [7]

In March 1903, the American Sheet Steel Co. merged with U.S. Steel, ensuring its future as a nonunion company.

Aftermath[ edit ]

In A History of American Labor, Joseph G. Rayback has written,

After the strike was lost, the Amalgamated charged Gompers with “lukewarmness” and Mitchell of the U.M.W. with failure to keep a promise to support steelworkers. Although Gompers and Mitchell were exonerated by a committee of the federation, the indictment made an impression. It served to focus attention upon Gompers’ and Mitchell’s association with industrialists in the National Civic Federation . The more aggressive labor leaders began to reveal a suspicion of the alliance; socialists became convinced that Gompers had sold out; even some middle-class reformers sympathetic to labor began to doubt. Such attitudes became the basis for Mitchell’s removal as U.M.W. head in 1908 and for attacks upon Gompers by radical labor elements until his death in the mid-twenties. They served to retard the A.F.L.’s development for more than a generation. [8]

The AA never recovered from the U.S. Steel strike. It turned strongly conservative, hoping through submissiveness and cooperation to maintain its few remaining contracts.

U.S. Steel slowly dismantled AA unions in its plants. When the company merged its National Steel and American Steel Hoop subsidiaries into its Carnegie Steel arm in 1903, the union found itself servicing contracts with the now-nonexistent Steel Hoop company rather than Carnegie. In the depression of 1904, the Carnegie Company demanded significant wage cuts. The union balked and struck, but by December the strike had been broken and the union had lost almost all of its Western affiliates. U.S. Steel idled AA mills whenever possible, breaking the union through attrition. [9]

Local AA unions often assisted in their own destruction. To make up for lower wages, AA members often worked overtime at regular pay rates or violated restrictions on speed-ups—in violation of their own union contracts. AA locals agreed time and again to wage cuts, eliminating the positive wage differential union shops had over nonunion facilities. This discouraged non-members from joining the union. U.S. Steel drove down wages so much that independent, nonunion plants had to cut salaries in order to stay competitive. [10]

By 1909, membership in the AA had sunk to 6,300, and the union was finished as a force in the American labor movement. [11]

Notes[ edit ]

  1. ^ Brody, 1969, p. 60.
  2. ^ Brody, 1969, pp. 60–61.
  3. ^ Brody, 1969, p. 61.
  4. ^ Brody, 1969, pp. 62–63; Dubofsky and Dulles, p. 174.
  5. ^ Brody, 1969, pp. 63–66; Rayback, p. 218.
  6. ^ Dubofsky and Dulles, p. 174; Brody, 1969, p. 66.
  7. ^ Foner, pp. 374–75; Brody, 1969, pp. 66–67.
  8. ^ Rayback, pp. 222–223.
  9. ^ Rayback, p. 218; Brody, 1969, pp. 68–69.
  10. ^ Brody, 1969, pp. 68–69.
  11. ^ Foner, p. 218.

References[ edit ]

  • Brody, David. Steelworkers in America: The Nonunion Era. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1969.

    ISBN   0-252-06713-4

  • Dubofsky, Melvyn and Dulles, Foster Rhea. Labor in America: A History. 6th ed. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1999. ISBN   0-88295-979-4
  • Rayback, Joseph G. A History of American Labor. Rev. and exp. ed. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1966. ISBN   0-02-925850-2

See also[ edit ]

  • icon Organized labour portal
  • Recognition strike

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  • Labor disputes in the United States
  • 1901 in the United States
  • United Steelworkers
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        Iron and steel industry in the United States

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        Ambox current red.svg
        Parts of this article (those related to 2018 tariffs) need to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (November 2018)

        In 2014, the United States was the world’s third-largest producer of raw steel (after China and Japan), and the sixth-largest producer of pig iron . The industry produced 29 million metric tons of pig iron and 88 million tons of steel. Most iron and steel in the United States is now made from iron and steel scrap, rather than iron ore. The United States is also a major importer of iron and steel, as well as iron and steel products.

        Employment as of 2014 was 149,000 people employed in iron and steel mills, and 69,000 in foundries. The value of iron and steel produced in 2014 was $113 billion. [1]

        As of 2015, major steel-makers in the United States included: ArcelorMittal USA , AK Steel , Carpenter Technology , Commercial Metals Company , Nucor , Steel Dynamics , and U.S. Steel . [2]

        Contents

        • 1 Steel mills
          • 1.1 Integrated steel mills
          • 1.2 Specialty steel mills / minimills
        • 2 Raw materials
          • 2.1 Iron ore
          • 2.2 Iron and steel scrap
          • 2.3 Coke
          • 2.4 Flux
          • 2.5 Alloy metals
          • 2.6 Slag
        • 3 International trade
        • 4 History of US iron- and steel-making
        • 5 References
        • 6 External links

        Steel mills[ edit ]

        There are two main types of steel mills. The traditional large integrated steel mill, which reduces metallic iron from ore (iron oxide) and makes it into pig iron and steel, has been steadily declining in importance for decades in the US. The second type, the mini-mill, or specialty steel mill, which produces new steel products by melting steel scrap, now produces the majority of steel in the US.

        Integrated steel mills[ edit ]

        In 2017, there were 9 operating integrated steel mills in the United States (plus one idled), down from 13 in 2000. Integrated mills produced 31% of the steel produced in the US.

        In an integrated steel mill, iron ore is reduced to metallic iron. In the US, this is done in blast furnaces . The direct-reduction method of producing iron from ore has not been used in the US since 2012. Some of the iron from the blast furnaces is converted to steel; today this is done in basic oxygen furnaces. Iron ore, coke, and flux are fed into the blast furnace and heated. The coke reduces the iron oxide in the ore to metallic iron, and the molten mass separates into slag and iron. Some of the iron from the blast furnace is cooled, and marketed as pig iron; the rest flows into basic oxygen furnaces, where it is converted into steel. Iron and steel scrap may be added to both the blast furnace and the basic iron furnace.

        US Steel operates a number of integrated steel mills, including the Gary Works in Gary, Indiana . They also operate the Edgar Thomson Works , which is the iron- and steel-making unit of the Mon Valley Works, which includes three other related plants. The Company operates the Great Lakes Works, and Granite City Works. [3]

        ArcelorMittal operates three integrated steel mills: in East Chicago, Indiana , Burns Harbor, Indiana , and Cleveland, Ohio . [4]

        AK Steel Corporation has three integrated steel mills, one in Middletown, Ohio, Dearborn, Michigan and the other in Ashland, Kentucky. At present, the Ashland Works is temporarily idled.

        Current integrated steel mills in the US

        NameLocationOwnerStatus and Date
        Dearborn Works Dearborn, Michigan AK Steel HoldingOne operating blast furnace (“A”)

        Formerly Severstal Dearborn (2004-2014)

        Previously Rouge Steel (1989-2004)

        Previously Ford Rouge Plant (1910-1989)

        Gary Works Gary, Indiana US SteelOperating, February 2015 [5]
        Mon Valley Works – Irvin Plant , Edgar Thomson Steel Works North Braddock, PennsylvaniaUS Steel
        East Chicago Tin East Chicago, IndianaUS Steel
        Midwest Plant Portage, IndianaUS Steel
        Fairfield Works Fairfield, AlabamaUS Steelclosed permanently 2015 August [6]
        Granite City Works Granite City, IllinoisUS Steelidled 2015 November [7]
        Great Lakes WorksRiver Rouge and Ecorse, MichiganUS SteelTwo operating blast furnaces (B2 & D4)
        Indiana Harbor Works East Chicago, IndianaArcelorMittal
        Burns Harbor Works Burns Harbor, IndianaArcelorMittal
        Cleveland Works Cleveland, OhioArcelorMittal

        Specialty steel mills / minimills[ edit ]

        There were about 112 minimills or specialty mills in the US, which in 2013 produced 59% of US total steel production. The specialty mills use iron and steel scrap, rather than iron ore, as feedstock, and melt the scrap in electric furnaces.

        Notable Specialty and Mini-Mills in the US

        NameLocationOwnerStatus and Date
        Brackenridge Works Brackenridge, Pennsylvania Allegheny Technologies
        former Colorado Fuel and Iron plant Pueblo, Colorado Oregon Steel MillsFormer integrated mill
        Evraz Claymont Steel Claymont, Delaware Evraz GroupClosed
        Mississippi Steel Flowood, MississippiNucor
        Pennsylvania Steel Company Steelton, PennsylvaniaArcelorMittalFormer integrated mill

        Raw materials[ edit ]

        The two main inputs into iron- and steel-making are a source of iron and a source of energy. Additional requirements are a fluxing material to remove the impurities, and alloy metals to give particular properties to the metal.

        Raw materials used in US iron and steel production, 2012

        Inputmetric tonsPurpose
        Iron ore46,900,000Iron source
        Iron and steel scrap104,100,000Iron source
        Coke9,490,000Reducing agent
        Lime5,730,000Flux
        Fluorspar47,800Flux
        Manganese382,000Alloy
        Chromium251,000Alloy
        Nickel194,000Alloy
        Molybdenum11,800Alloy
        Vanadium2,500Alloy
        Tungsten123Alloy
        Source: US Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbooks, 2012 and 2013. [8]

        Iron ore[ edit ]

        Main article: Iron mining in the United States

        Iron and steel scrap[ edit ]

        Two-thirds of the iron and steel produced in the US is made from recycled scrap, rather than from iron ore. In 2014, 81 million mt of iron and steel were produced from scrap. [9] Most steel from scrap is produced using electric arc furnaces.

        Coke[ edit ]

        Coke is used to reduce iron ore (made up of iron oxides) to metallic iron.

        Flux[ edit ]

        Flux is added to the furnace charge (iron ore, pig iron, or scrap) to lower the melting point, and draw unwanted impurities into the slag. The most common flux is lime. Other fluxes include dolomite, soda ash, and fluorspar.

        Alloy metals[ edit ]

        Other metals are commonly added to steel to produce alloy steels of various types. Common alloy metals are manganese, nickel, molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium. Stainless steel commonly contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium, and may also contain significant amounts of nickel or molybdenum.

        Slag[ edit ]

        Slag , a byproduct of iron and steel-making composed primarily of highly impure glass, would normally be a waste product. However, it is in demand as an aggregate in concrete, asphalt paving, and construction fill. In 2014, the industry produced and marketed about 16.0 mt of slag, worth an estimated $270 million. [10]

        International trade[ edit ]

        The United States has been a major importer of steel and steel mill products since the 1960s. In 2014, the US exported 11 million tons of steel products, and imported 39 million tons. Net imports were 17 percent of consumption. [11]

        Imports by Top 10 source countries
        YTD through December 2017 [12] [13]
        [14]

        No.CountryVolume
        (metric tons)
        PercentValue
        (k$)
        Percent
        1  Canada 5,675,81616%5,119,94418%
        2  Brazil 4,665,42814%2,442,4688%
        3  South Korea 3,401,40510%2,785,76410%
        4  Mexico 3,155,1179%2,501,2269%
        5  Russia 2,866,6958%1,431,2735%
        6  Turkey 1,977,8666%1,182,9984%
        7  Japan 1,727,8445%1,657,9086%
        8  Germany 1,380,4344%1,833,7936%
        9  Taiwan 1,128,3563%1,261,0334%
        10  India 743,0212%732,4253%
        Others7,750,52522%8,189,50328%
        Total34,472,507100%29,138,335100%

        History of US iron- and steel-making[ edit ]

        Main article: History of the iron and steel industry in the United States

        Graph of US iron and steel production, 1900-2014, data from USGS

        The US iron and steel industry has paralleled the industry in other countries in technological developments. In the 1800s, the US switched from charcoal to coke in ore smelting, adopted the Bessemer process, and saw the rise of very large integrated steel mills. In the 20th century, the US industry successively adopted the open hearth process, then the basic oxygen furnace. Since the American industry peaked in the 1940s and 1950s, the US industry has shifted to small mini-mills and specialty mills, using iron and steel scrap as feedstock, rather than iron ore.

        References[ edit ]

        1. ^ Iron and Steel , Mineral Commodities Summaries.
        2. ^ US Department of Commerce, [ Steel industry executive summary], June 2015.
        3. ^ US Steel Corp., Facilities Archived 2016-02-16 at the Wayback Machine ., accessed 1 August 2015.
        4. ^ 2014 ArelorMittal USA Factbook Archived 2015-09-15 at the Wayback Machine ..
        5. ^ “US Steel closes Gary Works coke plant,” Chicago Tribune, 26 Feb. 2015.
        6. ^ [1] .
        7. ^ [2] .
        8. ^ US Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbook , 2012 and 2013.
        9. ^ Michael D. Fenton, Iron and steel scrap , US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summary 2015, Jan. 2015.
        10. ^ Hendrik G. van Oss, Iron and Steel Slag , US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, Jan. 2015.
        11. ^ US Geological Survey, [3] , 2015.
        12. ^ “Steel Imports Report: United States” (PDF). International Trade Administration. December 2017.

        13. ^ “Imports of Steel Products” . United States Census Bureau.
        14. ^ “Exhibit 4. U.S. Imports For Consumption of Steel Products From Selected Countries and Areas” (PDF). United States Census Bureau.

        External links[ edit ]

        • American Iron and Steel Institute
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        Iron and steel production
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        • List of steel producers
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