Today in labor history: Rochester general strike

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On this day, in 1946 workers in the city of Rochester, New York, staged a successful one-day general strike. The strike was precipitated when city workers were summarily fired after attempting to form a union.

The workers were told: "This is to advise you that the position held by you in the Department of Public Works has been abolished by the City Manager and your services with the City of Rochester are terminated as of midnight, this date. This action is the result of a change of policy deemed necessary to protect public interest."

The anti-union action was taken by the Republican dominated city leadership and City Council. The workers had formed Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, Local 871 [now AFSCME].

Some 35,000 workers struck in solidarity outraged by the city's action. The strike was settled the next day with all workers being reinstated, charges dropped against pickets, and union recognition.

Photo: Education Committee 



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  • General strikes in this country have been far and few between and nowadays there are legal restrictions from such walkouts in support of another union. Yet when one thinks about it, this was the most powerful nonviolent weapon in the people's arsenal. We all know about the San Francisco 1934 and the Seattle 1919 general strikes and the mixed results coming from them. The Taft-Hartley Act pretty much disabled the general strike here and it is a great loss to organized labor.

    Posted by Michael Sweney, 05/29/2013 10:00am (2 years ago)

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