This year was quite a bit more eventful than the last. In the first week in March a convention was held in St. Louis by the unions represented in the American Stove Company's plants at St. Louis, Harvey, Ill., Cleveland and Lorain, Ohio. The A.F.L., C.I.O. and I.W.W. were all represented at this conference. Information was exchanged about job conditions at the respective plants, and a plan of coordinated action was discussed. However, subsequent events do not indicate that any important decisions were made. In fact, later events at the Lorain plant of American Stove and the Steel Barrel Stamping Companies, respectively, showed that no strong spirit of cooperation was developed with either the C.I.O. or A.F.L.
In April, the I.W.W. started a drive to organize the American Stove 60. plant at Lorain, but encountered opposition from the C.I.O. as well as from management.1 The three cornered struggle became violent, and in June the I.W.W. workers went on strike to secure a collective bargaining election. The election .as held on June 26, and after some dispute about its legality, it was determined that the C.I.O. had won.
In the meantime, I.W.W. organizers were active at the Lorain plant of the Steel Barrel Stamping Co. and at the Cleveland plant of Sealbrick Mfg. Co. A three day strike was called and won by the I.W.W. at the latter plant. It resulted in an increase in pay.
At the Steel Stamping Co. plant, after another bitter struggle against the management and, on this occasion, the A.F.L. the I.W.W. won the collective bargaining election held on August 23. A few weeks later the I.W.W. was able to negotiate a 12% general increase in pay, after threatening a strike.
On November 9, the I.W.W. won a collective bargaining election at the Globe Steel Barrel Co. plant in Cleveland. This election had been preceded by a strike for the reinstatement of organizers terminated for union activity. Again there were stories of violence and intimidation.
Efforts continued to organize the W.P.A. workers in various parts of the country, especially in Detroit, and Minneapolis. In addition, work was done among the lumber workers in Idaho, in the vicinity of Seattle and Olympia, Washington, in British Columbia and near Port Arthur, Ontario; among the agricultural workers near Sacramento, California and near Wenatchee, Washington; among the railroad maintenance men; and, among the construction workers along the Delaware River aqueduct.
Conventions were held by several of the industrial unions. At the convention of the Marine Transport Workers, for instance, plans were developed for organizing the lake seamen from Buffalo to Duluth. The twenty fourth general convention was held in Chicago.
- 1Industrial Worker 3/11/1939, 5/2/1939 6/17/1939, 8/26/1939, 9/2/1939