May 25, 1937 The Remington Rand Strike
This strike by a federal union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) against the Remington Rand Company spawned 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. Later that year the article was published in a pamphlet form and distributed by the National Association of Manufacturers.
The Remington Rand strike was a particularly violent strike. Although no one died during the strike, both sides engaged in beatings with fists and clubs, rock and brick throwing, vandalism, threats and physical intimidation. But historians and federal officials point out that the company went out of its way to antagonize workers and use private security personnel (sometimes disguised as workers) to instigate violence and riots. The record before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the scholarly literature show that the level of violence in the strike was deliberately manipulated by Remington Rand, and several orders of magnitude higher than it would have been had the company not taken the actions it did.
Outcome of the Strike
On March 13, 1937, the NLRB issued a decision finding Remington Rand guilty of violating federal labor law. The decision, Remington Rand, Inc., 2 NLRB 626, was an astonishing 120-page decision in which the Board recounted nearly every anti-union tactic the company had undertaken in the last year. The Board accused Rand of putting himself above the law and wantonly violating the National Labor Relations Act.
But did Remington Rand Stop? No.
Remington Rand, however, continued to resist the NLRB’s order. But on February 14, 1938, Judge Learned Hand, writing for a unanimous court, ruled in National Labor Relations Board v. Remington Rand, Inc. 94 F.2d 862 (1938), that the company must obey the terms of the NLRB’s decision. Remington Rand appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to grant certiorai, thereby upholding the appellate court’s ruling.
Remington Rand began slowly furloughing replacement workers after the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear its case.
Misinformation – The Propaganda Tool of Choice Used by Rand
This propaganda technique was at the heart of the corporate manipulations of the Rand corporation. Remington Rand made a significant number of false and misleading statements designed to mislead the media, demoralize strikers and reassure investors.
Sixteen days into the strike, for example, company president James Rand announced an end to the strike at all six plants, a statement which roiled the union and led hundreds of workers to mistakenly accuse elected union leaders of selling out. In fact, no agreement had been reached.
Two weeks later, Remington Rand announced that workers in Ohio had returned to work under a new collective bargaining agreement which offered highly favorable terms. The announcement demoralized workers in New York and Connecticut, and raised suspicions about the competence and reliability of union leaders. The truth was that only 21 of the 911 workers at the plant had accepted these terms, and they had not supported the strike.
A few days later, Remington Rand officials falsely claimed that 5,300 of the company’s workers had crossed picket lines and were back at work.
THE MOHAWK VALLEY FORMULA
The June 1936 issue of the NAM’s Labor Relations Bulletin immortalized the “Mohawk Valley formula” as a classic blueprint for union busting. The nine-point formula, as devised by James Rand, Jr., is as follows:
-When a strike is threatened, label the union leaders as “agitators” to discredit them with the public and their own followers. Conduct balloting under the foremen to ascertain the strength of the union and to make possible misrepresentation of the strikers as a small minority. Exert economic pressure through threats to move the plant, align bankers, real estate owners and businessmen into a “Citizens’ Committee.”
-Raise high the banner of “law and order”, thereby causing the community to mass legal and police weapons against imagined violence and to forget that employees have equal right with others in the community.
-Call a “mass meeting” to coordinate public sentiment against the strike and strengthen the Citizens’ Committee.
-Form a large police force to intimidate the strikers and exert a psychological effect. Utilize local police, state police, vigilantes and special deputies chosen, if possible, from other neighborhoods.
-Convince the strikers their cause is hopeless with a “back-to-work” movement by a puppet association of so-called “loyal employees” secretly organized by the employer.
-When enough applications are on hand, set a date for opening the plant by having such opening requested by the puppet “back-to-work” association.
-Stage the “opening” theatrically by throwing open the gates and having the employees march in a mass protected by squads of armed police so as to dramatize and exaggerate the opening and heighten the demoralizing effect.
-Demoralize the strikers with a continuing show of force. If necessary turn the locality into a warlike camp and barricade it from the outside world.
-Close the publicity barrage on the theme that the plant is in full operation and the strikers are merely a minority attempting to interfere with the “right to work”. With this, the campaign is over—the employer has broken the strike.
NOTE: As I”ve mentioned, I am writing a book on propaganda which I hope to publish on Lulu Publications in a week where it will be available as a 400 paperback and as a digital download for a nominal fee of $5.00. Voter education is our greatest weapon–especially in regard to the various propaganda techniques that are used to influence our thinking and opinion.
For example, no greater weapon than to point out the tactics of an opponent in the midst of their deployment of these tactics. Few things make the American public angrier than to realize that they are being manipulated with misinformation and lies.
I’m hoping my book will raise awareness of all Americans to the extent to which we are manipulated by special interest groups and provide them with tools to combat the BS.
It’s time to help the people to stop being suckers for the rich.