Unions before the Bar: Historic Trials Showing the Evolution of Labor Rights in the United States

By Elias Lieberman | Go to book overview

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"Pink-Tea Picketing" (1914-1921)

AMERICAN STEEL FOUNDRIES V. TRI-CITY CENTRAL TRADES COUNCIL

I

The plant of the American Steel Foundries Company at Granite City, Illinois, was shut down for almost six months, during which time most of the workers remained unemployed. Upon its reopening on April 6, 1914, only 350 of its usual 1,600 employees were recalled to work. Those re-employed were told that their wages would be cut from 2 to 10 cents an hour.

The Tri-City Central Trades Council, consisting of thirty-seven craft unions from the neighboring cities of Madison, Granite City, and Venice appointed a committee to interview the company's management and try to get the old wage restored. But the manager refused to take up the grievance with the committee because the company did not deal with labor organizations. He told the committee that the dissatisfied employees might call upon him as individuals. A week later, on April 22, the council called a strike and on the following day picketing began. In addition to a few direct employees who went on strike and picketed, the plant was also picketed by former employees who were not recalled to work, but who had hoped to be recalled, and by members of the Tri-City Council, workers who were not employees of the American Steel Foundries.

On May 18, the company secured an ex parte (without a hearing) injunction from the United States District Court for the southern division of the Southern District of Illinois. They charged the Tri

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