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Columns

September 1, 2012

Railroad strike in 1922 caused local clashes

 

In what was called the “Great Railroad Strike” of 1922, most Oneonta residents were deep in the labor frustration and tension,   along with the rest of the nation. We didn’t have National Guard troops here, as railroad towns in seven other states did,   but Oneonta saw its fair share of scuffles between strikers, the railroad and strike breakers.
The strike was called July 1, 1922, after the announcement came that railroads would be cutting wages to shop workers by seven   cents an hour. This affected hundreds of jobs in Oneonta, as the Delaware & Hudson Railroad had its building and repair shops   here.
Replacement workers had been brought in to take over the jobs the unionized shop workers had vacated. Temporary barracks were   set up in the D&H rail yards to house the “strike breakers.” Many also stayed at the Wilson House, a hotel that once stood   at the corner of Market Street and Chestnut Street Extension, where the parking garage is today.
The Oneonta Police Department and the D&H Railroad police were keeping an eye on activities in the area, and had their hands   full on Saturday, Aug. 5, 1922.
As the Oneonta Star described it on Monday, “Saturday evening, while two of the special officers sent into the city to guard   D. & H. property were walking along Main street, they were observed, it is said, by some of the striking D. & H. employes   (sic) and were greeted with rather uncomplimentary remarks and there may have been some exchange of epithets. In any event   the number of sympathizers with the strike increased and soon the two the two men decided they best make their way in the   office of the D. & H. police force on Broad street near the Union station, which they did.
“The crowd followed, being augmented as it advanced until it is said to have approximated 200 men and boys when the office   of the D. & H. police was reached. In the crowd were some who are said to have dared the officers to come out and some who   jeered at them. Officer Mel Farone of the regular D. & H. force came down and attempted to remonstrate with the crowd, saying   that the D. & H. police desired no trouble with the men and urged them to depart.

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