The Remington Rand strike of 1936–37 was a strike by a federal union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) against the Remington Rand company. The strike began in May 1936 and ended in April 1937, although the strike settlement would not be fully implemented until mid-1940.
The strike is notorious for spawning the "Mohawk Valley formula," a corporate plan for strikebreaking to discredit union leaders, frighten the public with the threat of violence, use local police and vigilantes to intimidate strikers, form puppet associations of "loyal employees" to influence public debate, fortify workplaces, employ large numbers of replacement workers, and threaten to close the plant if work is not resumed. The Mohawk Valley formula was described in an article by company president James Rand, Jr., and published in the National Association of Manufacturers Labor Relations Bulletin in the fourth month of the strike. The article was widely disseminated in pamphlet form by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) later that year.
In a landmark decision, the National Labor Relations Board called the Mohawk Valley formula "a battle plan for industrial war."
In March 1934, the AFL began organizing skilled workers at two typewriter companies, Underwood Typewriter Company and Remington Rand. The employees organized the District Council of Office Equipment Workers, a federal union affiliated with the Metal Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor. Six plants were organized in the towns of Tonawanda, Ilion and Syracuse in New York; in Middletown, Connecticut; and in Marietta and Norwood in Ohio.
James Rand, Jr., president of Remington Rand, refused to bargain with the union. On May 8, 1934, 6,500 workers struck to force the company to recognize the union and sign a collective bargaining agreement. On June 18, 1936, the firm recognized the union and signed a contract which provided wage increases and established a grievance procedure.
Remington Rand, however, continued a policy of harassment and obstruction toward the union. It often violated the contract in small ways (forcing the union to file time-consuming and costly grievances), harassed union leaders, and generally contested the union at every turn.
In February 1936, the District Council of Office Equipment Workers became the Remington Rand Joint Protective Board.
Beginning of the strike
Worker anger had built high by May 1936 when the company spread rumors that its plants were being bought by an unknown firm which would no longer recognize the union. Remington Rand then announced it had purchased a typewriter plant in nearby Elmira, and it might close the Tonawanda and Syracuse facilities. The union demanded information on possible plant closures, which the company refused. The union threatened a strike. In retaliation, the company distributed its own strike ballots and claimed it alone could speak for workers. Outraged union officials seized and destroyed the company's ballots, interrupted and broke up meetings at which ballots were handed out, and harassed and physically intimidated managers trying to conduct balloting.
The Joint Board quickly held its own strike vote. More than 75 percent of the union's members voted to strike. Union officials asked the company to submit the dispute to a federal mediator, but the company refused to do so. Instead, Remington Rand fired the presidents of the local unions in Tonawanda and Syracuse along with fifteen other union activists. Infuriated workers in Ilion, Syracuse and Tonawanda walked off their jobs on May 25, 1936, followed by Remington Rand workers in Ohio and Connecticut the following day...
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. REMINGTON RAND, INC.
94 F.2d 862 (1938)
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
REMINGTON RAND, Inc. (CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF REMINGTON RAND EMPLOYEES' ASS'NS, Intervener).
Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
February 14, 1938.
Charles Fahy, of Washington, D. C., Robert B. Watts, Philip Levy, and H. Gardner Ingraham, all of Washington, D. C., for the National Labor Relations Board.
Bond, Schoeneck & King, of Syracuse, N. Y. (George H. Bond and Tracy H. Ferguson, both of Syracuse, N. Y., and John A. W. Simson, of Buffalo, N. Y., of counsel), for Remington Rand, Inc.
Bernard A. Kosicki, of Hartford, Conn., and John Holley Clark, Jr., of New York City, for intervener.
Before MANTON, L. HAND, and SWAN, Circuit Judges.
L. HAND, Circuit Judge.
This case arises upon a petition filed by the National Labor Relations Board under section 10(e) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 160(e), for an order of this court to enforce the Board's order, passed on March 13th, 1937, in a proceeding before it against the respondent, Remington Rand, Inc. This was begun upon a charge, filed with the Board by the Remington Rand Joint Protective Board of the District Council Office Equipment Workers, on which the Board filed a complaint, alleging that the respondent was engaging in "unfair labor practices." The respondent answered, and a trial examiner was appointed who conducted hearings during November and December, 1936. The respondent appeared at these hearings, cross-examined the witnesses, but put in no evidence of its own except a few exhibits. The decision on which the order was issued is extremely voluminous, covering more than 200 pages of the printed record; it is rather in the nature of a discursive opinion than of specific findings of fact, but it ends with certain conclusions of law followed by the order, a copy of which is annexed at the end hereof. A summary of the more important facts stated in the decision is as follows. The respondent, a Delaware corporation, manufactures typewriters and general office equipment, and has a great number of plants scattered all over the world; it is engaged in interstate commerce. This controversy concerns six of its plants, i. e. those at Tonawanda, Ilion and Syracuse, in New York, at Middletown, in Connecticut, and at Marietta and Norwood, in Ohio. (At Tonawanda there are strictly speaking two plants, one at Tonawanda, and the other at North Tonawanda, but these have been treated as one.) A number of the maintenance and equipment workers in each of these plants had by 1934 organized into one or more local unions; in Ilion there were five, at Syracuse three, Middletown four, at Norwood five and at Marietta and Tonawanda one each. These locals were affiliated with general craft unions under the direction of the District Council of Office Equipment
[ 94 F.2d 866 ]
Workers, which the Metal Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor chartered in March, 1934; the Council was made up for the most part of workmen in the six plants, and was superseded in February 1936 by the complainant here, Remington Rand Joint Protective Board, which we shall speak of as the Joint Board. The Labor Board has found that this body represented a majority of the employees in the six plants, which together constituted an appropriate bargaining unit under section 9(b) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 159(b).
The controversy dates back to the autumn of 1935 and had its origin in rumors and newspaper articles that the respondent was about to set up a plant at Elmira, N. Y., and dismantle corresponding producing units elsewhere...