National strike imminent, all furnaces from Cincinnati to Steubenville will strike

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Crockery & Glass Journal

New York, NY, United States
vol. 20, no. 25



                                                                                                     BELLAIRE, O., Dec. 15, 1884.

The strike is upon us. Unless some very unlooked-for occurrence takes place by the time this appears in print, every furnace on the Ohio side of the river from Steubenville to Cincinnati will be smokeless. I forecast this action in my last letter to to the JOURNAL, and the event is a matter of no surprise to anyone who is at all coversant with the status of things here. The manufacturers gave notice ten days ago that unless the "piece" system was substituted for the "move" method, no further work would be done in the factories under thier control. The following day the workmen representing not only the factories interested in the matter, but alos those from outside, met in Wheeling and virtually determined to resist the demand. Subsequent meetings were held by those immediately interested, and it was determined to request the manufacturers to grant an extension of ten days from the 13th. This request was unanimously refused, when overtures were made for a conference. This request was granted, and the afternoon of the 14th was fixed for its holding. Again, prior to the time for holding the conference, the workmen renewed their request for an extension. On Friday forenoon the manufacturers held a meeting at which representatives from the Elson and Buckeye, of Martin's Ferry, the La Belle, of Bridgeport, and the Aetna, National, Goblet, Lantern Globe, and Belmont of Bellaire, were present. The situation was canvassed, and again the manufacturers determined to adhere to their former action. The workmen represented that there was an element of indefiniteness about the notification relative to a change of systems, whereupon the manufacturers prepared the following:

Whereas our workmen have advised us that our notice of December 6, 1884, is indefinite, therefore beit

Resolved, That the only terms and rules for workmen named in said notice on which we will operate our works are those in force in Pittsburgh, which are found to be most favorable to us as manufacturers.

At the conference held in the afternoon of the same day representatives of all the factories interested, as well as a committee of workingmen from every factory, were on hand. John Miller, of the Buckeye, presided over the conference. The workmen represented to their employers that the change demanded would militate against their (the employer,) interests, because piecework would count up more rapidly than work by the move. The manufacturers at once demanded why they did not accept of their terms? A desultory discussion followed, and after three hours of it the conference was dissolved without having accomplished anything.

A manufacturer said this evening in referring to the prospect: "What we want is the adoption of the piece system. By means of it we can turn out a much larger number of pieces in a given time. We can also have the selection of our ware, and, best of all, we will be able to increase the size of the product daily, and no greater cost of production so far as fuel and other articles are concerned. We want these things particularly, for we have to compete with Pittsburgh in the matter of their sale. We are willing to come to an understanding with our men with reference to the making of those articles which do not enter into competition with Pittsburgh or other places. It has been charged that we are using the present depression to coerce our men. Technically this is true. It is also that they harass us and take advantage of our every extremity to compel us to yield to their demands. From this standpoint we are at a standoff with them. One thing is determined upon, and that is the men must accede to our terms or they must find work somewhere else. Now, to-day they asked that we continue the present atatus of things till the summer shut down, with reference to compelling the Pittsburgh manufacturers to come to the move system. We think the piece system is preferable, and refuse to entertain the proposition. How many men will this strike throw out? The Elson has 180 on its rolls; the Buckeye, the same number; the La Belle, 150; the Goblet Works, 175; the National, 125, the Aetna, 180; the Belmont, 150; and the Lantern Globe, 90; or a grand total of 1,230 employes. The Elson has one seventeen-pot furnace ; the Buckeye has three large furnaces; the La Belle, two furnaces; the Goblet Works, two; the National, one; the Aetna, one; the Belmont, two; and the Lantern Globe one furnace.It is not likely once the bars are are drawn that fires will be relighted until after the date of the summer start up, and prbably not then in the event of persistence of the men not to accept our proposition. We all have stock enough on hand to fill all intervening orders. Our expenses will be cut down, and we shall not be burdened by adventitious expenses. I have the most serene confidence in our ability to win."


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:August 17, 2010 by: Bob Stahr;