History Hangout: Where did all the Strikers Go? by Michael DiCamillo

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1981 there were 145 strikes and other work stoppages caused by employee/employer disputes. Since 1981, the U.S. labor force averaged only 32 strikes and work stoppages per year.

Where did all the strikers go? In our latest addition to the Hagley History Hangout series, processing archivist Michael DiCamillo explains how a strike at General Electric paved the way for significant changes in American labor relations.

In the summer of 1960, the International Union of Electrical Workers and the General Electric Company struggled to negotiate a new contract for the union's 70,000 GE workers. Union leaders threatened to strike while GE executives stuck to the terms of their initial contract offer. This pivotal moment in labor history is a window into the labor relations philosophy at General Electric during the middle part of the 20th century. The GE philosophy would inform the actions of a future U.S president and lead to lasting changes in the worker/employer relationship.

Hagley processing archivist Michael DiCamillo tells this story which comes from the Virgil B. Day papers, a new collection in Hagley’s manuscripts collection.

This series is part of our Hagley from Home initiative https://www.hagley.org/hagley-from-home  

Michael DiCamillo is a processing archivist at the Hagley Library