Labor History in 2:00

March 27 State Police Crack Heads in Indiana

March 27, 2017

On this day in labor history, the year was 1941.

That was the day Indiana State Police began cracking heads of picketers in front of the Richmond International Harvester plant.

The Farm Equipment Workers Organizing Committee, or FEWOC, called a strike at six Midwestern plants earlier in the year.

14,000 workers walked out, demanding an elimination of piecework, wage increases, reemployment guarantees for draftees and union recognition.

Lucy Parsons addressed strikers in Chicago.

She reminded them of her husband’s frame-up and murder in 1886.

She added that the McCormicks and International Harvester had continued their unending war against labor for over 50 years.

In Richmond, workers voted 5 to 1 for a strike.

By March 27, Harvester officials there planned to reopen the plant with members of the ‘independent union.’ FEWOC battled these so-called unions at all the plants.

They were the rehashed old company unions the National Labor Relations Board had ordered disbanded.

Reports varied widely as to the number of workers ready to betray the strike at the Richmond plant.

When they marched towards the gate that morning, strikers closed ranks and sang, “Solidarity Forever.”

The battle began as strikers, armed with bricks and bats, fought police to prevent the scabbing.

More than 80 strikers were arrested on charges ranging from assault and battery to attempted murder.

The State Police and Richmond officers then raided strike headquarters and downtown CIO offices.

Records and correspondence were seized and furniture demolished. FEWOC leader Cliff Kerr avowed, “They are not going to get away with this brutal, undemocratic attack on the workers.

The union intends to fight. The combined efforts of the city… the police… and the Harvester Company are not going to break this strike.”

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