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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Oshkosh Woodworkers' Strike (1898)


A 14-week citywide strike in May 1898 by more than 1500 members of the Amalgamated Woodworkers in seven woodworking mills. The workers demanded a minimum wage of $1.50 a day, weekly payment of wages, recognition of their union, and the end of woman labor. Daily skirmishes among strikers, police, strikebreakers, and company-hired private detectives increased as the weeks wore on, and involved even strikers' wives who sought to intimidate the strikebreakers by throwing  eggs, salt, pepper, and sand. The strike drew national attention when three unionists were arrested and charged with conspiracy in an effort by Paine Lumber Company to end the strike. Famed attorney Clarence Darrow came to the defense of the workers and secured their acquittal. The union disintegrated soon after the trial.

View pictures relating to lumber at Wisconsin Historical Images.

View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archive.

[Source: The History of Wisconsin vol. 4; Wisconsin Labor History Society (]

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