Today in labor history: Steel workers walk off jobs in industry’s largest work stoppage

On this day in 1946, some 750,000 steel workers walked off the job in the largest work stoppage in the industry after steel companies rejected an 18 cents-per-hour wage increase proposed by President Truman. The strike ended three weeks later, when management capitulated. Job classification standards to reduce wage inequality were also agreed to. A huge strike wave in other industries occurred during the same year.

Later that year the GOP won majorities in the House and Senate, electing Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. In 1947, Taft Harley was passed, reducing the right to strike and inserting anti-communist clauses into union contracts. The Cold War was at its height.

Photo: Steel workers walk off the job in 1946.


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