Description: This photograph shows police clashing with strikers at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber strike in Akron, Ohio, in late May 1938. Two police officers are holding raised batons as they and other police advance toward a group of workers. The activity is taking place along a brick and iron fence. A car with a driver at the wheel is visible to the right of the workers and police. One hundred people were injured during this strike.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, factory workers faced poor working conditions, low wages, and almost no benefits. This was true for the workers employed by rubber manufacturers in Akron, Ohio, such the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, B.F. Goodrich, and Firestone. In an attempt to alleviate their conditions, workers went on strike and left the factory to join picket lines. Company owners often hired “scab” laborers to cross the picket lines and continue production. This practice made it difficult for striking workers to obtain their demands.
In 1935, rubber workers in Akron, Ohio, tried a new approach to strikes, the sit-down strike, in which workers stopped working but still occupied their places within the factory. This process meant that the factory owners could not send in additional workers to continue the job. In addition, factory management was more reluctant to use private security forces or other strike breakers to intimidate the striking workers, as that approach threatened destruction to plant property.
In 1935, the rubber workers organized a union, the United Rubber Workers (URW). In its first year the URW created thirty-nine local chapters. This union’s goals were to improve wages and working conditions for its members, and it soon had its first opportunity. The URW organized its first strike against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company the following year. This sit-down strike began as a protest against a plan created by Goodyear to reduce wages and increase the pace of production. In addition to the sit-down strike, the rubber workers also organized long picket lines in protest. Akron’s mayor, Lee D. Schroy, attempted to send in the police to put down the strike, but the police officers refused to do so when they faced the thousands of organized workers.
After the violent strike in May 1938, three more years of cooperation between the new URW and Goodyear elapsed before the first formal contract was signed in 1941.
In the long term, Goodyear was forced to recognize URW and negotiate better contracts with workers. Legislation passed during the New Deal required industries to recognize unions and legitimized collective bargaining, increasing the URW's popularity and success even further. By the end of World War II, membership had grown to almost 200,000.
After World War II, the URW continued to work to improve laborers conditions. The union began negotiating industry-wide agreements rather than focusing on one factory. The union also became more inclusive, working to reduce gender and racial discrimination both within the union itself and in the workplace. The URW also negotiated pension plans and insurance plans with employers.
In the 1990s, the URW merged with the United Steelworkers to form an even stronger union. This union still strives to improve its members' working conditions, wages, and benefits.
View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: AL06154 Subjects: Strikes; Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company; United Rubber Workers of America; Labor unions--Ohio; Labor movement--United States--History--20th century; Strikes and lockouts--Rubber industry; Business and Labor; Akron (Ohio) Places: Akron (Ohio); Summit County (Ohio)
Description: Women factory workers during World War II, 1941-1945. After the United States entered World War II, there was a labor shortage due to the departure of men who enlisted or were drafted into the armed forces. To fill the gap, more than 6 million women became war workers. Those who were involved in the production of military hardware became Women Ordnance Workers, or W.O.W.s. Spurred on by higher wages and a propaganda poster featuring a muscle-bound "Rosie the Riveter" exclaiming "We Can Do It!" millions of American women helped assemble bombs, build tanks, weld hulls, and grease locomotives. Most were married, 60 percent were over 35, and a third had children under 14. On average, women war workers were paid only 60 percent of what men performing the same work were paid. The government insisted that "Rosie the Riveter" was a temporary response to war. "A woman is a substitute" claimed a War Department brochure, "like plastic instead of metal." Indeed, many women lost their high-paying positions after the war. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: AL00102 Subjects: Manufacturing industries--Ohio; Ohio Economy--Economy--Labor; Ohio Women; World War II Places: Cleveland (Ohio); Cuyahoga County (Ohio)
Description: Dated 1935-1940, this photograph shows a mustached man standing behind a bar with a mirror that runs the length of the bar and reads "Welcome" and "Auf Wiedersehen," or when we meet again. A cash register, which could have been manufactured by the National Cash Register Company, sits in the middle of the back counter. A sign for Wooden Shoe Beer hangs on the wall. It is unclear where this bar is located, though it could be in the Germantown area of Dayton, Ohio. Wooden Shoe Beer was produced by the Wooden Shoe Brewery in Minster, Ohio, in Auglaize County. Formerly known as the Star Brewery, it was renamed in 1913 to take advantage of the local Pennsylvania Dutch connection. Around 1919, the company was again renamed the Star Beverage Company, and began selling non-alcoholic drinks, due to prohibition. In 1933, Wooden Shoe Beer was reintroduced and officially changed the company name back to Wooden Shoe Brewery in 1940. Several management changes, and cost cutting beginning in 1950 affected the quality of the beer and the bar closed in 1954. The building was used as a warehouse for many years and was eventually demolished in 1990.
This photograph is one of the many visual materials collected for use in the Ohio Guide. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration by executive order to create jobs for the large numbers of unemployed laborers, as well as artists, musicians, actors, and writers. The Federal Arts Program, a sector of the Works Progress Administration, included the Federal Writers’ Project, one of the primary goals of which was to complete the America Guide series, a series of guidebooks for each state which included state history, art, architecture, music, literature, and points of interest to the major cities and tours throughout the state. Work on the Ohio Guide began in 1935 with the publication of several pamphlets and brochures. The Reorganization Act of 1939 consolidated the Works Progress Administration and other agencies into the Federal Works Administration, and the Federal Writers’ Project became the Federal Writers’ Project in Ohio. The final product was published in 1940 and went through several editions. The Ohio Guide Collection consists of 4,769 photographs collected for use in Ohio Guide and other publications of the Federal Writers’ Project in Ohio from 1935-1939.
View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: SA1039AV_B09F03_009_001 Subjects: Breweries; Bartenders; Brewing industry; Beer; Business and Labor; Ohio--History--Pictorial works Places: Ohio
Description: Pamphlet titled "Mrs. Ohio Homemaker: Don't let them shrink your shopping bag!" It was distributed by United Organized Labor of Ohio during the 1958 campaign to defeat the proposed Right-to-Work amendment to the Ohio Constitution. The pamphlet was targeted to women who were responsible for managing their family budgets. The amendment would have forbidden "labor contracts which establish union membership as a condition for continuing employment (called 'right to work')." It was defeated by nearly a million votes in November of 1958. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: AL05056 Subjects: Women--Ohio; Multicultural Ohio--Ohio Women; Labor unions--Ohio; Political campaigns Places: Columbus (Ohio); Franklin County (Ohio)
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