The Law on Strike

A year after World War I ended, massive strikes came underway. These resulted due to promises made during the war whether directly stated or indrectly, that gave the average worker hopes that things would get better once the war was won. When their goals were not met, many workers went on strike for better wages, benefits, and safer working conditions. One of the most famous strikes from this year occured in September of 1919 when the whole Boston police force went on strike to validate the recognition of their trade union as well as to imporve wages and working conditions. However, this strike ended up setting back the labor movement a lot in the years to come. The mayor at the time reported that police officers have no right to go on strike ever and relieve the city of its law upholders. Due to this, the strikers were all fired and national guard and volunteers were hired to make up for the lost force. This revolt was highly publicised as a Bolshevik uprising on American soil.

Rioting in Scollay Square in Boston as a result of the police strike.

Foner does not grant much space in his book to the Boston Police Strike. He however effectively introduces it as an important strike at the time which showed the effect “The Great War” had on domestic workers in the United States. He gives a brief summary of the strike and shows both sides of the story. He however does not write about the aftereffects of the strike on the labor movement as a whole, in relation to the AFL(American Federation of Labor); I had to look that up in other sources.


1. How did the Boston Police Strike affect employee contracts for policemen all around the country?

2. How significant was the increase of the crime rate during the strike?

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