Pittsburgh remembers 2nd worst labor strife of a century ago

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A century ago this month, between 12 to 26 people died in the Pressed Steel Car strike -- Pittsburgh's second bloodiest next to the railroad strike of 1877. Among the dead were John C. Smith and John L. Williams, the first two state troopers to die in the line of duty. When the anniversary of the conflict's worst bloodshed arrives on Saturday, a state historical marker will be unveiled in Presston, an intact company town of 240 duplexes in Stowe. Located near the plant, Presston was often derided as "Hunkeyville."

Hundreds were wounded in the eight-week conflict that started in July 1909. It heralded the era of industrial unionism and destroyed the myth that Slavic workers were passive people content to be driven like field hands.

As men and their families demonstrated rock-ribbed solidarity, the immigrant strikers attracted leaders from the International Workers of the World plus coverage by Pittsburgh's seven newspapers and The New York Times.

The 4,000 unskilled workers followed "the unknown committee," made up of a former German metalworker and union leader, Hungarian veterans of railway strikes and three Russians who had witnessed labor strife in St. Petersburg in 1905. About 2,000 skilled workers, native-born or Irish and German immigrants who had assimilated, followed a group called The Big Six.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09228/990709-28.stm#ixzz0OMi6viKq

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