||3. The Era of Industrial Warfare||Page 8|
To a great extent the capitalists won the industrial wars. Perhaps the best example is that of the railroads. The initial intervention of 1877 against railroad workers was followed by an even bloodier intervention to break the national railroad strike of 1894. By the time it was over, 14, 186 armed men were used, including 1,936 federal troops, 4,000 state militia, and thousands of sheriffs, police, and special marshals hired by management but authorized by the federal government (Mahon, 1983, p. 118). As described by the strike organizer, Eugene Victor Debs, the intervention came just as the union felt it was on the verge of victory:
At this juncture, there was delivered, from wholly unexpected quarters, a swift succession of blows ... an army of detectives was equipped with badge and beer and bludgeon and turned loose. ..startling rumors were set afloat; the press volleyed and thundered and over all the wires sped the news that Chicago's white throat was in the clutch of a red mob; injunctions flew thick and fast, arrests followed, and our office and headquarters, the heart of the strike, was sacked, torn out and nailed up by the 'lawful' authorities of the federal government (Debs, 1948, p. 45).
Thanks to repeated military interventions and threats, it has never been possible for railroad workers in the USA to develop a unified national union. In 1922, over 13,000 troops were mobilized to counter a national railroad strike. And, in 1946, President Truman broke a national rail strike with a threat to call out federal troops to take over the running of the trains.
Although workers in the coal mines and steel mills eventually formed national unions in the 1930s, their earlier attempts were defeated by repeated interventions. After a pitched battle between steelworkers and armed private guards of the Carnegie Steel company in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1892, the government sent in 8,300 state militia. Under protection of the militia, the Company locked out the workers and brought in replacement workers to break the union. After costly court trials, the union leaders were acquitted of charges, but the union, not only at Carnegie, but throughout the steel industry, was destroyed (Yellen, 1936, pp. 72-100). The development of a national steel union was again defeated in 1919 following the intervention of federal troops in Gary, Indiana (pp. 251- 291), and a national steel union was not organized until 1937, again despite military intervention (Labor Fact Book, vol. 1938, pp.117-118).
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