Learn about a union strike that changed modern labor history

Labor history specialist Anson Smith will give a May 2 talk.
Labor history specialist Anson Smith will give a May 2 talk.

The 1936 Remington-Rand strike at six factories, considered a pivotal event in modern labor history, will be the subject of a talk by labor history specialist Anson Smith on Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Derby Neck Library, 307 Hawthorne Ave., Derby.

The worker walk-out impacted the typewriter company’s plant in Middletown, Conn., as well as five factories in New York and Ohio.

“The strike saw the company introduce a draconian strike-breaking plan called the Mohawk Valley Formula, which used a combination of traditional bare-knuckle strike-breaking tactics and emerging science of propaganda to break the strike,” Smith said.

“It also saw a small-business association, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), pick up the plan, and introduce it nationally,” Smith said. “In the hands of others, it would leave many dead and wounded in its wake.”

The battle against unions

He said NAM would use the formula’s use of propaganda as the model for a national effort to battle unions, the National Labor Relations Act, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal itself.

According to Smith, that battle, as evidenced by what he called the “Republican assault on unions in recent years” and recent attacks on Social Security by both political parties, continues today.

Union activist, former news reporter

Smith, public relations coordinator for Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, is a former news reporter who has taught history and journalism at Housatonic.

He serves as statewide Political Action Committee chairman for the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges, a faculty and professional staff union, and is a member of both its executive board and legislative affairs committee. In addition, he is on the executive board of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association.

A Wallingford resident, Smith has done extensive research on the subject. The Derby Neck Library can be reached at 203-734-1492.