Dick Meister: The steelworkers' bloody battle

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In September of 1919, angry steelworkers launched one of the most fierce, most bloody, and most important
of the many battles that created the American labor movement

By Dick Meister

(Dick Meister, former San Francisco Chronicle labor editor and labor reporter for KQED-TV's "Newsroom," has covered labor and politics for a half-century as a reporter, editor, author, and commentator.)

It was 90 years ago this month - September of 1919 - that angry steelworkers launched one of the most fierce, most bloody and most important of the many battles that created the American labor movement.

Just 10 months earlier, the United States and its allies had emerged victorious from World War I. The steelworkers whose labor had contributed much to the war effort -- and much to their employers' huge profits - had set out to organize a union, so as to gain some control over their working lives and increase their miserly share of the profits their work brought employers.