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“They Are Mostly All Foreigners on Strike”: Joseph Fish Speaks on the 1919 Steel Strike

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, Homestead, Pennsylvania, steelworker Joseph Fish described conditions in the steel mills as good and maintained that only “one or two” Americans have joined the strike.

Senator MCKELLAR. What is your name?

Mr. FISH. Joseph Fish.

Senator MCKELLAR. Are you a native American?

Mr. FISH. Yes.

Senator MCKELLAR. How many Americans are there out on strike?

Mr. FISH. Well, none that I know of, and only one that I heard of.

Senator MCKELLAR. Only one?

Mr. FISH. One or two.

Senator MCKELLAR. What percentage of the fellows out on strike are foreigners, do you know?

Mr. FISH. Well, they are mostly all foreigners on strike.

Senator MCKELLAR. What is your position here.

Mr. FISH. Foreman.

Senator MCKELLAR. How much do you make a day?

Mr. FISH. In the neighborhood of $600 a month.

Senator MCKELLAR. Are you satisfied?

Mr. FISH. Yes, sir.

Senator MCKELLAR. Conditions are good, are they?

Mr. FISH. Yes, sir.

Senator MCKELLAR. And your home conditions, are they good?

Mr. FISH. Yes, sir.

Senator MCKELLAR. And all of the conditions of the men are good?

Mr. FISH. Yes, sir.

Senator MCKELLAR. Do you know what these boys are on strike for?

Mr. FISH. No, sir.

Senator MCKELLAR. Did they ever ask you to join the union?

Mr. FISH. No, sir.

Source: Investigation of Strike in Steel Industries, Hearings before the Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. Senate, 66th Congress, 1st Session

See Also:"We Do Not Understand the Foreigners": John J. Martin Testifies on the 1919 Steel Strike
"The Men Seem To Be Pretty Well Satisfied": John Anderson on the 1919 Steel Strike
"It Is Entirely the Bolshevik Spirit": Mill superintendent W. M. Mink Explains the 1919 Steel Strike
"Forty-Two Cents an Hour" for Twelve to Fourteen Hours a Day: George Milkulvich Describes Work in the Clairton Mills after World War I
"We Did Not Have Enough Money": George Miller's Testimony about the 1919 Steel Strike
"We Ought to Have the Right to Belong to the Union": Frank Smith Speaks on the 1919 Steel Strike
"Eight Hours a Day and Better Conditions": Andrew Pido Explains His Support for the 1919 Steel Strike
"I Witnessed the Steel Strike": Joe Rudiak Remembers the 1919 Strike