To make matters worse for pro-union forces, the AFL became extremely bitter toward the National Labor Relations Board because of its belief that the board's decisions favored the CIO. As the AFL had feared might happen before passage of the act, the board was using its power to create large bargaining units that included workers in a wide range of occupations. AFL leaders felt from early 1937 on that the NLRB was aiding the CIO, but the decision that "could not be forgiven" occurred in June 1938, when the board ruled that the entire West Coast would be the bargaining unit for longshoremen and warehousemen, thereby eliminating the AFL in the four ports where it had small locals (Gross 1981, p. 56). Then the board voided an AFL contract because it was allegedly a sweetheart deal between the company and the AFL that was meant to keep out the CIO. AFL officials also were upset by the ruling in the Mobile Dry Dock Company case in Alabama that allowed for plant-wide elections in which the 500 "white, highly skilled mechanics" would be outnumbered by the 1,000 African American laborers (Gross 1981, pp. 59, 85).
City officials called out the local militia, but its members were reluctant to use force against workers who were part of their own community. The governor asked for federal troops, leading to a clash in which workers stopped trains and destroyed railroad property. The strike rapidly spread to other nearby cities. The violence was especially extensive in Pittsburgh, already a growing industrial center based in the iron and steel industry. When militia brought in from Philadelphia fired at the demonstrators, killing several people, the angry mob burned down 39 buildings and destroyed 104 locomotives and 1,245 freight and passenger cars. The strike became national in scope, drawing in nearly 100,000 workers and at one point stopping half the nation's rail freight from moving (Bruce 1959; Foner 1977). In all, governors in seven different states had to call out their militia.
Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed. Labor Unions: Kor-Man
The ensuing confrontation led to the deaths of ten workers and three of the 300 armed Pinkerton Detective Agency guards that had been brought in to attack the strikers (Bernstein 1969, pp. 432-434; Scheinberg 1986, pp. 7-9). Eight thousand members of the Pennsylvania National Guard then occupied Homestead; the nationwide union was but a shell thereafter (e.g., Dubofsky and Dulles 2004, pp. 153-170). In 1893-1894, when an estimated 150,000 workers in the railroad industry went on strike to protest wage cuts in the midst of a severe depression, roughly 32,000 state troopers were called out in 20 of the 27 states affected, along with nearly 16,000 federal soldiers out of an available regular force of 20,000 (e.g., Cooper 1980, pp. 144-164; Lambert 2005, pp. 58-63).
Chapter 6 Unions and Rights in the Space Age By Jack Barbash
Clearly, the IRC was not prepared to give up on its employee representation plans. In fact, the memorandum argued, "genuine employee representation plans should be strengthened rather than weakened by this legislation" (Memorandum to Clients, No. 13, p. 2). But in spite of all the hope and effort on the part of Industrial Relations Counselors and the members of the Special Conference Committee, the union movement overwhelmed most employee representation plans in 1937, quickly winning the support of most of the two million members enrolled in these plans. As late as 1962, however, when the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton last supported a study, there were still 1,400 "single-company" unions, as employee representation plans were called at that point, most of them descendants of earlier employee representation plans, representing 400,000 workers. (By comparison, there were about 17 million members in independent unions at that time.) Interestingly, single-company unions were "the dominant form of labor organization in the chemical industry and close to being so in the telephone and petroleum industries," which means that the employee representation plans at the DuPont Corporation, AT&T, and various Standard Oil companies were able to hold on by offering higher salaries and better employee benefits than in most industries (Shostak 1962/1973, p. 1). (For an excellent and detailed account of company unions after the New Deal through the lens of a major manufacturing company heavily involved in the leadership of NAM, see historian Sanford Jacoby's (1997, Chapter 5).)
UNIONS & LABOR - Labor Quotes
The memorandum further claimed that union organizers were using the act to argue that employee representation plans had been "outlawed," but the memorandum then reminded readers that "The bill states otherwise, and employers and employees should bear in mind that employee representation plans are specifically named in the act as a recognized form of 'labor organization for dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work,' and employers and employees should be prepared to maintain before the Labor Board and in the courts their right to continue friendly relations" (Memorandum to Clients, No. 13, pp. 1-2).