Labor History in 2:00

March 26 Police Attack Workers on Pittsburgh Picket Line

March 26, 2017

On this day in labor history, the year was 1946.

That was the day Pennsylvania State Police attacked striking UE members at the gates of Westinghouse in East Pittsburgh.

200,000 UE members went on an industry-wide strike January 15 for a $2 a day raise.

They were on strike against the Big Three: GE, Westinghouse and the electric division at GM.

It was part of the post-war strike wave that brought millions out onto the picket lines nationwide.

By the middle of March, the UE had settled with GM and GE.

But 75,000 Westinghouse workers were still out on strike.

Westinghouse initially refused to negotiate at all.

When they made a first offer, they falsely claimed theirs matched the GE and GM agreements.

Federal mediators withdrew from the case in frustration, stating the company had made negotiations impossible.

Then on March 26, Alleghany County Sheriff Walter Monaghan and Governor Edward Martin called in 800 state troops.

Some were on horseback, others on foot detail. Many troops arrived in cars with machine guns and tear gas.

They patrolled the picket lines and nearby streets and set up roadblocks leading to the Westinghouse gates.

They began to forcibly disperse the crowd of 1000 picketers.

Then they ushered through several hundred non-production workers.

Some were pelted with eggs.

Others were struck in the face by some of the women strikers.

Three UE leaders were arrested for refusing to shut down their sound system they used to blast staffers for crossing picket lines.

The State Police stayed for the duration of the strike to enforce injunctions against mass picketing and ensure the crossing of picket lines.

The strike finally ended after 115 days with strikers winning an 18-cent an hour raise.

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