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Running the RailsCapital and Labor in the Philadelphia Transit Industry$
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James Wolfinger

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702402

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702402.001.0001

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Hard Times and a Hate Strike

Hard Times and a Hate Strike

(p.122) 5 Hard Times and a Hate Strike
Running the Rails

James Wolfinger

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the hard times of the 1930s that highlights the powerful impact finances had on labor relations in the transit industry. Like transportation companies across the country, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT) faced an annual drumbeat of falling ridership, declining income, and darkening prospects. The employees' dissatisfaction with the PRT, coupled with the gathering strength of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), led them to abandon their company union and organize in the Transport Workers Union (TWU). Management, pressed to the wall by its financial situation, knew how much the TWU would cost them at the bargaining table, and turned to racist techniques that were sharpened by racial animosity within the workforce.

Keywords:   labor relations, transit industry, Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, Congress of Industrial Organizations, Transport Workers Union, racial animosity

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