“In 1885 a devastating strike would erupt because labor issues had been ignored for too long”, as stated in the article on the 1885 Saginaw Valley Strike. Mill workers obligation to work 11 or 12 hours a day, six days a week, while losing approximately 25% of their pay due to a dip in lumber prices caused an outbreak, which later lead to a strike. With the strike moving rapidly it doubled in size at 800 men shutting down everything, while police had tried to sustain the situation. Although, with the strike on the rise the participants threatened all workers who refused to join. After many conflicts, a meeting was scheduled to demand a 10-hour work day without loss of pay, however it was rejected because mill owners didn’t want to seem inferior and oblige to their requests. So, still many outbreaks at various mills continued. Though, after bringing in militia on July 15 to stop the violence there was no more. However, soon after Blinn was arrested for leading the stoppage of work. Ultimately crushing the strike completely.
Workers simply wanted Michigan legislature to pass a law mandating 10 hours a day as a maximum work day, and any hours over they wanted to be paid overtime. For over a decade they tried to get hours regulated. Joining the Knights of Labor, they tried to gain control and tried to force employers to compromise. Though in 1885 they DID ratify a 10-hour day there was a clause stating if workers and employers wish to they could contract for longer hours. So, employers made the workers sign contracts saying they had to work longer hours. However, though the employees didn’t win the strike the employers did agree to pay them on a regular basis.
Looking back at the 19th century it’s plain to see that laborers weren’t treated fairly. They were to work long, hard hours while getting paid as the employer wished or desired. Showing that laborers had no say in how they were to be treated, thus the cause of the strike. The employer distinguished at his discretion how the workers should be paid whether that be in currencies or store credit. As well as how often. Leaving the employer with total power and control over the workers. The relations between them were similar to how slaves were treated as Professor French mentioned. I can see why she referenced it to slavery. Because, much like slavery they were taken advantage of and didn’t receive the credit they deserved. As the article also stated, “A reduction in the costs of making lumber…. Must come through cheaper and more efficient labor.”
Though the conditions of the 19th century industrial relations weren’t ideal, then it was the way of life. Thankfully times have changed and workers are now compensated at an hourly rate with definite pay days. The workers simply stood up for themselves and what they believed in. There’s nothing worse than feeling underappreciated and not getting what you deserve. Being in such a predicament would be hard to say the least, however if employers would have considered their arguments maybe things wouldn’t have escalated so quickly. Still, it had to end one way or the other.