railroad police

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Eight-Hour Day Labor Riots of 1916, Edgar Thomson Steelworks, Braddock PA.

As World War I progressed, demand for munitions and machine tools grew dramatically. When pressure mounted on factories, workers were forced into making concessions on the number of hours per day that they worked. It was not long before labor unrest started to create strikes and work stoppages. In May 1916, local labor organizations marched and rioted over working conditions and the eight-hour day. 

In response, U.S.Steel Company’s managers closed their plants and amassed a force of guards, railroad detectives, and police armed with clubs, rifles, shotguns and machine guns to protect the mills. On May 2, 1916, anger reached fever level and the strikers’ actions became more threatening. The guards amassed at the Edgar Thomson plant reacted violently by shooting into the crowd. Three Braddock residents were killed and dozens wounded. Gov. Martin Brumbaugh declared martial law and called out National Guardsmen to quell the unrest.