Today in labor history: Rochester general strike

On May 28, 1946, more than 30,000 workers in Rochester, N.Y., staged a successful one-day general strike. The strike was precipitated when city workers were summarily fired after attempting to form a union.

The anti-union action was taken by the Republican dominated city leadership and City Council. The workers had formed Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, Local 871 [now AFSCME].

The strike compelled Rochester’s City administration to deal with local labor. That evening, state mediators, the Deputy State Industrial Commissioner and prominent Rochester religious leaders shuttled between the City Manager’s office and Carpenters Hall and, by 2 a.m. May 29, a settlement was reached.

The May 30 issue of the “Democrat & Chronicle” newspaper ran a photo of the men who settled the city-wide strike, showing key labor leaders and city officials meeting at City Hall.Labor News” heralded the outcome: “1-Day General Strike ends as City unions win recognition.” The joint labor strategy committee issued a statement summarizing the agreement:

  • Reinstatement of all discharged workers
  • Dropping of illegal charges against arrested pickets
  • Recognition of city workers’ right to organize a union and choose representatives to bargain with the city administration

For an interesting detailed description of the events leading to the strike, the strike and results, and a strike photo gallery, go to, sponsored by the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO and the Ronald G. Pettengill Labor Education Fund.

Photo: Education Committee 



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