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“It Is Entirely the Bolshevik Spirit”: Mill superintendent W. M. Mink Explains 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, W. M. Mink, mill superintendent at the Homestead steelworks, testified that the cause of the strike was simple—the infection of “the Bolshevik spirit”among “the foreigners.”


Senator STERLING. What is your name?

Mr. MINK. W. M. Mink.

Senator MCKELLAR. And what is your position?

Mr. MINK. I have charge of these mills here. . . .

The CHAIRMAN. Well, will you give us your view of what this strike is about?

Mr. MINK. We think it is entirely the Bolshevik spirit.

The CHAIRMAN. Why do you think that?

Mr. MINK. Well, because they was gathering up the aliens; they have been practically alien, in my opinion, very few American citizens.

The CHAIRMAN. They worked among the foreigners, do you say?

Mr. MINK. They worked among the foreigners entirely.

The CHAIRMAN. And most of the foreigners are out?

Mr. MINK. Most of the foreigners are out; 99 per cent of the foreigners that are striking here—that is, the strikers that are out are foreigners.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, does this Bolshevik tendency that you speak of, do they get any literature from any sources?

Mr. MINK. Well, we have not seen any literature, but only stuff like this, they say that if the mills are not running - we do not see this ourselves, but we get it from other sources - that they are going to get a dollar an hour and are going to get the best jobs.

The CHAIRMAN. Are they going to man the mills themselves?

Mr. MINK. Yes, they are going to man the mills themselves.

The CHAIRMAN. And you really believe that there is a great deal of that Bolshevism about, do you?

Mr. MINK. Yes, I think there is. It is not a question of wages. They have never been getting more money than they have got, and the conditions are good.

The CHAIRMAN. How about their living conditions? How are they?

Mr. MINK. The living conditions are just what the men want. A lot of them have good jobs and they make good money, and they could live a whole lot better.

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
"They Are Mostly All Foreigners on Strike": Joseph Fish Speaks on 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