Early Efforts at Organization
A violent and protracted strike began in Alabama coal mines on April 14, 1894. The strike involved more than 8,000 miners seeking to protect themselves against wage reductions in a time of depression, and hoping to gain peripheral improvements in living and working conditions. This strike, the largest demonstration by organized labor in the state during the nineteenth century, lasted through four violent months. In an era of industrial warfare the Alabama strike was a product of its time, a part of the struggle between management and labor that accompanied the post Civil War decades of industrialization. In many ways the Alabama strike shows the usual symptoms of the 1890's: clashes between strikers and company guards, the use of Pinkerton detectives, and the ultimate employment of the state militia to quell violence both real and potential. On these bases the Alabama strike would remain an isolated provincial example of labor unrest, overshadowed by the labor conflicts of the more industrialized North.