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Letter to the Editor


Roger Snyder, Owosso

2:26 pm

Editor, The Independent:

In the 1880s the U.S. was recovering from the Civil War and going full speed ahead into the industrial revolution. Oil, steel and railroading were the driving forces in American industry. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and Vanderbilt, the most powerful people in America, ran these entities and made their own rules on how to treat labor. Labor was pushed so hard that Carnegie Steel had as many as one out of 11 workers either die or permanently disabled while at work in a year’s time.

The Amalgamated Association was formed in 1876 and was representing the striking steel workers at the Carnegie Steel Company when a running gun battle ensued. Carnegie had well-armed men with pistols and rifles while the union members had rocks. Twelve men were killed with many more wounded. Carnegie didn’t concede much to the union at that time, but public opinion from this incident may have caused Carnegie to concede most of the union demands in 1901.

Henry Ford was probably the most cooperative with the union. He initiated the $5-work day and cut hours to the 8-hour workday with a 40-hour workweek. His genius in the assembly line and “just in time delivery” allowed him to negotiate fairly with the unions.

Like most families in Shiawassee County, our family income was dependent on what the Union could get in negotiations. I remember my father and brothers hoping they would settle because the union strike fund was running out. Worrying about house and car payments was always a stressful part of that process.

Tough negotiations by unions is what led to our county’s prosperity and ability to buy homes, cars and with voluntary overtime it was possible to buy cabins, boats and other items of our dreams.

This is why only foolish people debate the union with union members. They are the most dedicated and thankful people when it comes to the people that made their lives affordable and enjoyable.

My thanks to the unions for their backing of America’s workforce.

Roger Snyder, Owosso

Roger Snyder, Owosso was last modified: August 4th, 2015 by Karen Elford