The Fragile Bridge: Paterson Silk Strike, 1913

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Temple University Press, 1992 - Business & Economics - 305 pages
In this full-length study of the 1913 Paterson silk strike, Steve Golin examines the creative collaboration between the silk workers, organizers from the Industrial Workers of the World, and Greenwich Village intellectuals. Although the strike was defeated, this alliance could become a model for the American left because it suggests the possibilities of connecting economic, political, and cultural struggles.Combining perspectives from labor history, social history, and intellectual history Golin argues that while the silk workers began the 1913 strike and controlled it themselves, the IWW helped them create institutions that supported the strike and reinforced its radically democratic character. The deadlock in Paterson dictated the need for a "bridge" to New York that was facilitated by a growing mutual trust between the Wobblies and intellectuals from Greenwich Village. At the height of the struggle, the IWW and the Village radicals joined the workers in presenting a powerful strike pageant in Madison Square Garden.The story of the 1913 silk strike is important because it challenges long-held conservative assumptions about labor history, including the elitist role of skilled workers, the bureaucratic function of union organization, and the irrelevance of intellectuals. Although the strikers were ultimately defeated, the strike's failure had more damaging consequences for the IWW and the intellectuals than for the workers themselves and Golin views this loss as a major turning point for the American left. Author note: Steve Golin is Professor of History at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.
 

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Contents

Chapter One Bimsons Mistake
12
Chapter Two The Strike as a Way of Life
42
Chapter Three Deadlock
72
New York
109
Paterson
128
Chapter Six The Paterson Pageant
157
Chapter Seven Defeat
179
Chapter Eight Defeat Becomes Disaster
204
Conclusion View from the Bridge
222
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Steve Golin is Professor of History at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.

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