Case Study On The Boston Police Strike
Of 1919 Essay, Research Paper
Case Study/Labor Management & Collective Bargaining
A. Name of the Union and the Occupation Covered
-The Boston Police Union #16807 of the AFL
-The occupation covered is the police officer.
B. Issues covered in the contract.
C. Problems in the case study
-new police officers were payed the same as old police officers in a 65
year time period(since 1854)
-payment of uniforms and equipment had to come out of their salaries
D. Who violated the contract?
-The City of Boston violated the contract
-The Boston Police Social Club affiliated the Boston Police Union
-The Police Commissioner refused to recognize the new union and
and terminated scores of union leaders.
-On September 9, 1919, the strike started with 1,117 of the
city’s 1,544 officers walking off the job.
-Collective bargaining efforts was established in the department
concerning all matters affecting the working conditions of the police.
-The Boston Police had assumed the role of strikebreakers in the past,
but now had been welcomed into the ranks of organized labor and
accepted as fellow members of the working class by the labor leaders
-A voluntary police force was organized and equipped by the Police
Commissioner Edwin U. Curtis.
-Larger business and banks turned to private security.
-confrontation erupted with the 427 of 1544 officers who decided not
to per-take in the strike.
-The State Guard was called out after a bad night of political unrest.
-Legislation was sought by State Attorney General Albert Pillsbury
and then Governor Calvin Coolidge ?making it illegal for public
safety workers to engage in a union.
-organized labor threatened to force Commissioner Curtis out of
office if he continued his strong anti-union stance.
-Eight union leaders and ten other union members were suspended by
-BCLU would be sympathetic to any strike that was going on.
-The mayor of Boston Andrew J. Peters formed a committee headed by
prominent banker James Jackson Storrow to look into problems and
suggest a settlement.
-Mayor Andrew J. Peters suggested to the City Council that they vote
on a pay raise, rearrange work schedules, and fix up the old police
-The council decided not to vote on the issues.
-Mayor Peters sat down with union leaders in attempt to come up with a
compromise. No agreement was met.
-Governor Coolidge began taking credit for restoration of law and
law in order due to the State Guards presence.
-?Diamond? Jim Timilton who was president of the Boston Central
Labor Union expressed to Governor Coolidge that they would support
-Samauel Gompers the president of the AFL stated that the master
really didn?t want a general strike.
-Governor Coolidge stated, ?there is no right to strike by public officers
at no stage anytime?
-Commissioner Curtis recruitment of officers was complete.
-None of the striking officers were able to return to work.
G. Lesson learned from the Case Study
-Lessoned learned is the Boston Police Strike was a clear picture of
the complicated organized labor.
-A contextual approach can explain the different actors in a strike.
-Promises are often broken, for instance the threat of a sympathy
strike which is what the BCLU stated it would call for.
-Strikes which occurred in city?s such as Winnipeg, Canada & Seattle,
Washington outcome should have been taken in consideration by the
-The Police officers should have made sure all acting parties and other
unions were definitely supporting them during negotiations.
-The other officers who took on the jobs after the firing of the unioned
officers should have settled for anything less than what was benefited
to the previous officers.
-There could have been better bargaining solutions.
-Governor Coolidge was more or less out for political gain than the
settlement of peace and prosperity in Boston.
-It took Boston police officers an additional 80 years for it to join a
truly organized labor union.
-This is referred to as the granddaddy of all lessons to be learned about
conflict between the city and it?s employees(police officers).
City of Boston, Documents of the City of Boston of the Year 1920, Vol I, Doc. No.
I, ?Address of Mayor Andrew J. Peters to the City Council, February 2, 1920.?
City of Boston Printing Department, 1921.
Allen Z. Gammage and Stanley L. Sachs. Police Unions, (Springfield: Charles C.
Thomas, 1972), 32.
Jr., Grubbs, Frank L., The Struggle for Labor Loyalty: Gompers, the A.F. of L.,
and the Pacifists, 1917-1920 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1968),91.
Lyons, Richard L. ?The Boston Police Strike of 1919,? The New England
Quarterly 20, no. 2 (1947): 147-68.
Russel, Francis. ?The Strike That Made a President,? American Heritage 14, no. 6
(October 1963): 44-47. 90-94, and City in Terror (New York: Viking, 1975).
Schrag, Zachary Moses. Nineteen Nineteen: The Boston Police Strike in the
Context of American Labor. Harvard College Press, March 1992.
White, Jonathon Randall. A Triumph of Bureaucracy: The Boston Police Strike
and the Ideological Origins of the American Police State. (Ann Arbor: University
Microfilm, 1982), 154.