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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (June 13, 1917)
THE BEE: OMAHA. WEDNESDAY. JUNK 13. 1917
Force As a Strike Weaoor
AGGRESSIVE DEMANDS by various Omaha labor unions this spring were followed by AGGRESSIVE
To enforce the demands for recognition of the union, the "closed shop," the right of sympathetic strike,
' " ' restriction of output' and onerous forking rulesthe unions struck. Some struck for their own demands.
Others struck sympathetically. v ,
The strikers then undertook, BY FORCE, to compel the employers to accede to their demands, Refus- r
ing to work themselves, they further undertook, BY FORCE, to compel others who were willing to work to quit
the job. Intimidation, violence and the destruction of property were the weapons used.
Violence, Intimidation, Destruction
The Electrical Workers' Union was one of the
first to strike. To manage the strike, the union im
ported from Chicago one Raymond Geary, a na
tional organizer of the Electrical Workers' Union and
a professional at the game, who took up his tempo
rary abode in Omaha at the Fontenelle. -
The use of force developed early in this strike.
The new residence of Frank T. Ransom was entered,
at night, lath was carefully removed, every electric
switch wire was cut and the lath then carefully re-
placed, with the.apparent hope that the walls would
be plastered and the h6me finished before the dam
age would be discoVered. This was an electrical wir
ing job being done by a contractor who had refused
to concede the union demands.
' f '
At the Blackstone hotel, where another con
tractor not under union control was at work, conduit
pipes were uncoupled, brick and wooden plugs were
driven in and the pipes then coupled up again so as to
prevent the running of electrical wires through the
conduits, compelling the uncoupling of many pipes in
the search for the plugs.
A building at 1415 Farnam street was broken
into at night and practically all of the electrical wir
ing, placed by a contractor who had refused to obey
union commands, was torn out and destroyed.
Men Forced to Leave Jobs.
During this same period, electricians who de
sired to continue at work in disregard of the com
mand of the union were interrupted at work or stop
ped on their way to and from home to be forced to
listen to threats of -bodily harm. Against their own
desire to remain a work to earn their living, they
were forced, in many instances, to quit.
Affidavits of a number'1 of such instances of in
timidation are on file in the district court.
One non-union workman was pursued from his
work at night by a gang of pickets who got on the
street car with him and whom he evaded only after
he had jumped from the moving car and sought
police protection. Another workman, similarly fol
lowed, was forced to run into a restaurant and dodge
out the back door to escape.
v Threats in Union Hall
A workman on a residence job, persisting at
work in spite of the union order, was "pulled off"
under threats, forced to go' with the threatening pick
ets to the union hall and there menaced by many
union members, who warned him that he would be
"fixed so you can't work" if he did not leave his job.
Threats were made to men who were at work
to "get out while your health is good," and that if
The Union Says:
the man kept on working he was "liable tafind him
self in the river, like they did in Chicago." Threats
- of bodily injury were made g6od in the case of a
man at work, who was hit on the head by a brick
thrown at him.
Tools of workmen who stayed by the 'job tools
of electrical workmen' being valuable were stolen
in the night.
Court Enjoins Lawlessness
v So serious was the situation that electrical con
tractors were compelled to ask for an injunction
from the district court to prevent the further destruc
tion of property and to stop the campaign to FORCE
men from the jobs at which they wished to continue
by acts of violence and intimidation.
Immediately upon the issuance of the injunc
tion the violence ceased.
Teamsters Beaten Up- ,
When the teamsters of the Cl W. Hull Co. struck
on May 15th there ensued another period of violence
and intimidation, designed apparently to force men
to join the union and to prevent deliveries of lum
ber, coal and building material. I
The day after the strike began, the company
tried to make some deliveries. One of its teamsters,
who had refused to quit work at the union order, ,
was assaulted and beaten about the head, by one of a
group of pickets, just as he was about to leave the
Two other drivers, who had stopped their teams
to get lunch at noon at Sixteenth and Cass streets,
were met by a gang of union drivers as they came
out of the restaurant. One was beaten and kicked
about the head ; the other's face was beaten, cut and
Deliveries Forced to Stop
These assaults had the desired effect of so,
frightening drivers who wished to continue their
work that the Hull company had to suspend business
This done, the picketing turned to other com
panies, on which no strike had yet been declared, in
an effort to force all team drivers into the union and
to stop deliveries. There followed a long list of acts
of intimidation, of which the following are typical
Six drivers unloading a car at Fifteenth and
Pierce streets were told to "join the union tonif Vr or
get of f the streets tomorrow."
Police Protection Needed
The Plattner Lumber Co. started a wagon out of
its yard at Twenty-fourth and Boyd streets. The
driver, an old employe, was stopped by a crowd of
union teamsters and told not to try to make the trip.
He was forced to turn buck. A"police officer saw him
through the crowd, but than left. The gang of pickets
followed him, shouting threats of physical violence,
until police protection was secured and the mob dis
persed, it being necessary for a police officer to ac
company the team the rest of the trip.
Two other drivers of this company, attempting
to make a delivery at 10 o'clock at night, were pelted ,
with bricks, which hit both the men and the horses. 1
Coal Deliveries Stopped
Deliveries of coal were interrupted by union
teamsters at the same time. Drivers for A. L Havens,
coal dealer, were so f lightened by threats of violence
that Mr. Havens had to mount a truck himself to
make necessary deliveries. ("
"When wagons of the Central Coal & Coke Co.
started to leave the yard fifteen men climbeS on the
first outfit and told the driver that he was being
warned for the last time ; that he could make this one
delivery, but no more unless he join the union.
The Coal Hill Coal Co. and other companies
found it necessary to call police protectioiVto deliver
coal absolutely necessary to the continued operation
of downtown buildings, such as the Fontenelle hotel,
tie Omaha National Bank' building and The Bee
building. To protect the drivers on these wagons
from violence policemen had to ride alongside the
The drivers thus threatened were not imported
strikebreakers, but regular employes, whose only sin
was that they desired to remain at work.
' Men Assaulted
Wagons crossing the Missouri river bridge from
Council Bluffs, bringing building material to Omaha,
were met by gangs of pickets and the drivers were
unable to proceed until police protection had been
secured to make it safe for them to drive up Douglas
street to Sixteenth street.
Meanwhile, a bqiler-maker, who was at work in
a shop whose owner would not give in to union de
mands, was mysteriously beaten 'up at night. Two
other boiler-makers were assaulted by striking union
boiler-makers just as they were boarding a street car
to go home. v N ,
A system of picketing boiler shops, material and
coal yards and planing mills was and is maintained
with groups of strikersshouting threats and slurs at
men who keep on at work.
"YOU MUST NOT WORK"
' These are but samples of many instances of violence, intimidation and destruction of property
accompanying a campaign to make men quit work and to force employers to shut donw. As a,
result, numbers of men, many with families to support, have been forced to QUIT WORK
AGAINST THEIR OWN DESIRE. This campaign still continues. Police protection is still
necessary to safeguard men whose only sin is a desire to work. Is this method of winning a
strike the -right way? t ' ,
Business Men's Association of Omaha
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