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Burlington Railroad Strike: Lesson Plan

BURLINGTON RAILROAD STRIKE

                                                                                                                            Burlington Railroad Strike

Standards:            CCSS. ELA-Literacy.R.H.9-10.9

                                    Compare and contrast treatment of the same topic

                                    in several primary and secondary sources.

 

Objective:                  The students will be able to look at an historical event

                                   from multiple points of view based on primary source

                                   documents.The students will be able to organize and summarize the evidence to create a

                                   multi-perspective simulation of the Burlington Railroad Strike of Aurora, Illinois. The

                                   students will be able to evaluate some of the historical outcomes of the Burlington

                                   Shopmen’s strike.

 

Evidence:                   RC 217, Burlington Railroad Strike of Aurora Illinois Collection, Regional History Center

                                   at Northern Illinois University

                                   Many thanks for the work of James Flynn. 

                                   Flynn, James R. The Railroad Shopmen’s Strike of 1922 On the Industry, Company and

                                   Community Levels. (Ph.D. diss., Northern Illinois University, 1993). 

 

Time Frame:              This lesson will take 2-4 days to complete.

 

Essential Question:    Should workers have the right to go on strike and bargain for better conditions and wages?         

 

Table of Contents

Download Lesson Plan

Historical Background

Procedures

Activity 1

Group 1: Management A

Group 1: Labor A

Group 2: Management B

Group 2: Labor B

Activity 2

Activity 3

Work Sheet

Closing

Assessments

Flickr - Documents and Image Set

Historical Background

Historical Background:

During World War I, railroads were placed under federal rule. On March 1, 1920 they were returned to private operation but had changed greatly. Unionization was now widespread. Unions demanded increased wages, changes in rules and working conditions, and a continuation of existing national agreements and various innovations introduced during federal operations. Unwilling to meet the demands, the railroad shopmen’s strike began at 10:00 a.m. July 1, 1922.  This strike threatened to bring the nation's railroads to a halt. Over 400,000 members of six shop-craft unions walked off their jobs, shutting down facilities for the construction, maintenance, and repair of rolling stock on virtually every major railroad in the country. In Aurora, Illinois 1700 shopmen struck the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. In Aurora, to accommodate the strikebreakers or "new men", the large paint shop was converted into a dormitory with complete kitchen facilities and a dining room where meals were prepared and served three times a day. The company also provided a convenience store which sold tobacco and sundries so the "new men" did not have to leave the area unless they wanted to. The strike did turn violent. By the end of July, 2,200 deputy United States marshals had been appointed and National Guard troops were on duty in seven states amidst reports of violence.

 

For background material the students can watch The Brief History of Unions at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubIWyT7nGdU

 

Procedures

Set Induction:                        

Have the students imagine this scenario at their school:

The school lunch program is mandatory for all students.  No one is allowed to bring food from home.  It costs $10.00 per day to purchase the school lunch because the state has cut funding to the schools.  The school administration wants to maintain after school programs, therefore the lunch time menu has diminished over time.  Now each student has been issued one half of a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of water for lunch per day at the continued cost of $10.00.

After the students have imagined this scenario ask them to ponder two questions:

           Why would the school have such a lunch policy?

           What do you imagine that the students could do about such a situation?

After the students have formulated their answers, have them consider the following overarching, essential question:

Essential Question:                

Should workers have the right to go on strike and bargain for better conditions and wages?

 

Activity 1

Activity 1:                              

The students will examine primary source materials to prepare to reenact the negotiation of management and labor in the Burlington Railroad Shopmen’s Strike of 1922.  There will be two sets of disputants.  Team A will have a management side and a labor side and Team B will have a management side and a labor side.


While the two A teams negotiate with one another, the B teams will observe and conversely, while the B teams negotiate, the A teams will observe. The different groups will use their own documents to base their arguments upon.

 

Each group will make a list of four “demands” based upon their understanding of the points of view expressed with in their documents.  They will record their demands and the reasons for them on the attached worksheet.

Teachers please note that some of the materials might require highlighting for student comprehension.

 

Teams for Group 1           

                                    Management A:

Read the highlighted portions of the Labor Board Decision #2

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 2.

 

Read the highlighted portions of Decision #222.

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 6.

 

Read the highlighted portions of the Legal Injunction of July 18, 1922

RC 217, Box 4, Folder 8.

 

Read Special Agent Report from Greybull, Wyoming of July 31, 1922

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 16.

 

Read Special Agent Report from Aurora of August 30 and 31, 1922

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 7.

 

Read the highlighted portions of the official strike ballot letter of June 8, 1922.

RC 217, Box 4, Folder 7.

 

                                    Labor A:

Read the highlighted portions of the Labor Board Decision #2

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 2.

 

Read the highlighted portions of Decision #222.

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 6.

 

Read the highlighted portions of the Legal Injunction of July 18, 1922

RC 217, Box 4, Folder 8.

 

Read R.J. Dillon and A.C. Butler letter to System Federation #95 of June 9, 1922

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 1.

 

Read A.C. Butler letter to System Federation #95 of June 17, 1922.

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 1.

 

Read the highlighted portions of the official strike ballot letter of June 8, 1922.

RC 217, Box 4, Folder 8.

 

Read portions of Carl Hendrickson’s testimony

RC 217, Box 5, Folder 7.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Teams for Group 2     

                                   Management B:

Read the highlighted portions of the Labor Board Decision #147.

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 4.

 

Read Special Agent Reports from Alliance Nebraska of July and August, 1922.

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 6.

 

Read Special Agent Reports from Aurora, Illinois of September 1 and 2, 1922.

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 7.

 

                                    Labor B:

Read the highlighted portions of the Labor Board Decision #147.

RC 217, Box 1, Folder 4.

 

Read R.J. Dillon and A.C. Butler letter to System Federation #95 of June 9, 1922.

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 1.

 

Read A.C. Butler letter to System Federation #95 of June 17, 1922.

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 1.

 

Read portions of Carl Hendrickson’s testimony.

RC 217, Box 2, Folder 1.

 

Activity 2

Activity 2:

The students will use their lists of four demands with reasons to back them up for their negotiating team.  The students will report their group’s position by taking on the role of their team during a simulated labor and management negotiation.  The students will make sure that their team’s position is carefully supported by their evidence.

 

Activity 3

Activity 3:

Evaluate the negotiations between the two groups that you have   observed in the simulated negotiation.  Take note of each group’s points and decide which negotiating team you think has the better case.  Write your evaluations on the “demand forms”.

 

Work Sheet

Work Sheet for Management and Labor Negotiations

Each student should receive two of these forms, one for their own group and one for the team that they will observe.

 

My Group:_____________________

Observed Group_________________

 

For your own arguments, write in your demands and the reasons for your demands. For the arguments that you will observe, write the demands and the reasons.  In addition, write an evaluation of the demands and reasons given by the team you are observing.

 

    1. Demand:_______________________________________________________________________________

        ______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Reasoning:_________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Evaluation :­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

    2. Demand:_______________________________________________________________________________

        ______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Reasoning:_________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Evaluation :­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

    3. Demand:_______________________________________________________________________________

        ______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Reasoning:_________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Evaluation :­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

    4. Demand:_______________________________________________________________________________

        ______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Reasoning:_________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Evaluation :­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Closing

Closing:    

Have the students write a reflection upon how they might have handled the opposing side’s arguments if they had been on their team.  Have the students use their reflections to participate in a final class discussion about the simulation experience.

 

Assessment

Assessment:

  • Participation in team negotiations                                                                                                        
  • Labor and negotiation work sheet                                                                                                        
  • Final reflections and discussion