A strikebreaker (sometimes derogatorily called a scab, blackleg, or knobstick) is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who were not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired after or during the strike to keep the organization running. "Strikebreakers" may also refer to workers (union members or not) who cross picket lines to work.
The use of strikebreakers is a worldwide phenomenon; however, many countries have passed laws outlawing their use, as they undermine the collective bargaining process. Strikebreakers are used far more frequently in the United States than in any other industrialized country.
The right to strike is not expressly mentioned in any convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO); however, the ILO's Freedom of Association Committee established principles on the right to strike through ongoing rulings. Among human rights treaties, only the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights contains a clause protecting the right to strike. However, like the Social Charter of 1961, the Covenant permits each signatory country to abridge the right to strike.
The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association and other ILO bodies have, however, interpreted all core ILO conventions as protecting the right to strike as an essential element of the freedom of association. For example, the ILO has ruled that "the right to strike is an intrinsic corollary of the right of association protected by Convention No. 87."
The European Social Charter of 1961 was the first international agreement to expressly protect the right to strike. However, the European Union's Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers permits EU member states to regulate the right to strike.
In most European countries, strikebreakers are rarely used. Consequently, they are rarely if ever mentioned in most European national labor laws. As mentioned above, it is left to the European Union member states to determine their own policies.
Strikebreaking is also known as "black-legging" or "blacklegging". American lexicographer Stephanie Smith suggests that the word has to do with bootblacking or shoe polish, for an early occurrence of the word was in conjunction with an 1803 American bootmaker's strike. But British industrial relations expert J.G. Riddall notes that it may have a racist connotation, as it was used in this way in 1859 in the United Kingdom: "If you dare work we shall consider you as blacks..." Lexicographer Geoffrey Hughes, however, notes that "blackleg" and "scab" are both references to disease, as in the blackleg infectious bacterial disease of sheep and cattle caused by Clostridium chauvoei. He dates the first use of the term "blackleg" in reference to strikebreaking to the United Kingdom in 1859. Hughes observes that the term was once generally used to indicate a scoundrel, a villain, or a disreputable person. However, the Northumbrian folk song Blackleg Miner is believed to originate from the 1844 strike, which would predate Hughes's reference. David John Douglass claims that the term blackleg has its origins in coal mining, as strikebreakers would often neglect to wash their legs, which would give away that they had been working whilst others had been on strike.
Hughes notes that the use of the term "scab" can be traced back to the Elizabethan era in England, and is much more clearly rooted in the concept of disease (e.g., a diseased person) and a sickened appearance. The word is occasionally still used as a general insult in Britain; for example, during a mock funeral for Margaret Thatcher in 2013 in Goldthorpe, the word "scab" was spelled out in flowers as part of the display. A traditional English proverb, which advises against gossip, is He that is a blab is a scab.
John McIlroy has suggested that there is a distinction between a blackleg and a scab. He defines a scab as an outsider who is recruited to replace a striking worker, whereas a blackleg is one already employed who goes against a democratic decision of their colleagues to strike, and instead continues to work. The fact that McIlroy specified that this should be a "democratic" decision has led the historian David Amos to question whether the Nottinghamshire miners in 1984-5 were true blacklegs, given the lack of a democratic vote on the strike.
Strikebreakers are also known as "knobsticks". The term appears derived from the word "knob", in the sense of something that sticks out, and from the card-playing term "nob", as someone who cheats.
The song, Blackleg Miner, is thought to originate from the 1844 Miners' Lockout in the North East Coalfield.
If we use McIlroy's interpretation can the Nottinghamshire miners of 1984-85 be seen to have been 'blacklegging' as against 'scabbing'? However, there is one contentious point in McIlroy's interpretation, the breaking of the 'democratic process'. It is because there was some debate over the democratic process in the 1984-85 miners' strike that the question is raised as to whether the working Nottinghamshire miners were scabs at all. Jimmy Reid, leader of the 1971 Clyde Shipyard strike, was critical of the term being applied to working miners:
Airedale is a suburb in the town of Castleford, West Yorkshire, England. It consists mainly of Local Authority Housing. It borders with Ferry Fryston. The ward of the City of Wakefield called Airedale and Ferry Fryston had a population of 14,811 at the 2011 Census. The River Aire runs in close proximity to Airedale and is thought to get its name from there. Yvette Copper MP is also from Airedale.
The area attracted much media attention in November 1984, when a local strikebreaker named Michael Fletcher was savagely beaten by a group of pickets during the UK miners' strike (1984-1985). A masked gang waving baseball bats invaded his house and beat him for five minutes, whilst his pregnant wife and two children hid upstairs. Two miners from Wakefield were later convicted of causing grievous bodily harm in the incident, whereas four others were acquitted of riot and assault.Albert Tannenbaum
Albert Tannenbaum (January 17, 1906 – November 1976), nicknamed Allie or Tick-Tock, was a Jewish-American hitman for Murder, Inc., the enforcement arm of the National Crime Syndicate, during the 1930s.
Tannenbaum was born in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, to Sam and Anna Tannenbaum (née Schwartz), and moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the age of three; his family later relocated to Brooklyn. He quit school at the age of 17 to work as a stock boy in the garment district. After a stint as a salesman, he began work at the Loch Sheldrake Country Club, which was owned by his father. When Tannenbaum was 25, he met a guest at the club by the name of Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, a close associate of infamous Jewish gangster Lepke Buchalter. Shapiro felt that Tannenbaum had what it took to become a mob hitman, and introduced him to the underworld.
Tannenbaum progressed rapidly through the ranks of organized criminal violence. He began as an enforcer and strikebreaker being paid $50 a week; his salary was raised to $75 and then later to $100. When he became a full-fledged contract killer in Murder, Inc., he was paid $125 a week for his services.
Perhaps the most famous murder committed by Tannenbaum as a member of Murder, Inc. was that of Harry Greenberg, nicknamed "Big Greenie", in Los Angeles on November 22, 1939. Tannenbaum had been assigned to the hit by Buchalter, who at the time was on the lam from New York District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey and was trying to eliminate potential witnesses that Dewey could use. Tannenbaum followed Greenberg first to Montreal and then to Detroit before finally catching up to him in Los Angeles and killing him under the supervision of (and with the assistance of) the Syndicate's West Coast representative, Bugsy Siegel. Tannenbaum's slaying of Greenberg is generally regarded as the first-ever mob assassination in Southern California.
However, in 1940, under pressure from Brooklyn authorities, Tannenbaum became a "stool pigeon" himself, testifying in Buchalter's trial about the involvement of Lepke and Charles Workman in the murder of Dutch Schultz, among others.
In 1950, Tannenbaum testified in the murder trial of Jack Parisi. He lived in Atlanta.Bjarne Bø
Bjarne Bø (April 3, 1907 – August 9, 1998) was a Norwegian actor.Bø was born in Skjeberg in the municipality of Sarpsborg in Østfold county, Norway. He debuted in 1939 in the role of Sjur in the play Hu Dagmar by Ove Ansteinsson (1884–1942) at the Bjørnevik Theater. From 1935 to 1939 he acted at the National Theater, mostly playing minor roles. In 1951 he moved to the new People's Theater. This merged with the Oslo New Theater in 1959, and he played the rest of his career there. His most important work was at the Children's Theater, where he wrote, taught, and played in over 1,000 performances together with children. He was a recognized poetry reciter and was often engaged as a reader for NRK radio and television. For generations, he was known as a great storyteller, and especially his narration of the Norwegian folk tale Reve-enka (The Fox's Widow) is remembered by many.
He debuted as a film actor in the role of a strikebreaker in Det drønner gjennom dalen (A Boom through the Valley) in 1938. He appeared in over 20 Norwegian films.Bø was awarded the King's Medal of Merit in gold for his contribution to Norwegian theater.Illinois Central shopmen's strike of 1911
The Illinois Central shopmen's strike of 1911 was a labor action of a number of railroad worker's unions against the Illinois Central Railroad, beginning on September 30, 1911. The strike was marked by its violence. At least 12 were killed across the country. It was also judged a failure within months, long before its formal ending on June 28, 1915.Knobstick
Knobstick may refer to:
Strikebreaker or blackleg, a derogatory archaic term for a worker who is not part of a union and works when others are striking
The Knobstick, an 1893 novel by C. Allen ClarkeList of riots and civil unrest in Omaha, Nebraska
The following is a list of riots and civil unrest in Omaha, Nebraska. With its economic roots in cattle processing, meatpacking, railroads, manufacturing and jobbing, the history of Omaha has events typical of struggles in other cities over early 20th-century industrialization and labor problems. Racial tension was deeply based in economic and social competition as older immigrants had to contend with different ethnic groups from eastern and southern Europe and African Americans from the South. The latter were recruited for jobs in the expanding meatpacking plants as World War I shut off immigration from Europe. While numerous African Americans migrated to the city in its growing industrial phase, they were a distinct minority within the overall state population. Civil disorder in Omaha has related to the most critical events and tensions of an era, from showing support of homeless people in the 1890s; to anti-strikebreaker sentiment, focused on new Japanese residents at the turn of the 20th century; to anti-war events in the 1970s. The 1960s inner-city riots that destroyed parts of the Near North Side neighborhood were another manifestation of social and economic tension breaking out in violence.
Often the violence did little to resolve the problems at their roots: for instance, labor inequities were persistent because of major industries' opposition to unionizing and insistence on "open shop" policies into the 1940s and beyond. Just as workers were finally achieving some successes, industries underwent major restructuring, causing loss of tens of thousands of jobs and movement of industrial work away from Omaha, stranding many in the working classes for some time. The challenges facing African Americans in Omaha with regard to economic inequity and social immobility also persist but the form has varied with social and economic changes. The racial tension persists in part because of problems with crime arising from dysfunctions of poverty, entwined issues of class and race, and the relative geographic and social isolation of some of the minority communities.Mohawk Valley formula
The Mohawk Valley formula is a plan for strikebreaking purportedly written by the president of the Remington Rand company James Rand, Jr. around the time of the Remington Rand strike at Ilion, New York in 1936/37.
The plan includes discrediting union leaders, frightening the public with the threat of violence, using local police and vigilantes to intimidate strikers, forming associations of "loyal employees" to influence public debate, fortifying workplaces, employing large numbers of replacement workers, and threatening to close the plant if work is not resumed.The authenticity of the written plan has never been clearly established. Although it was allegedly published in the National Association of Manufacturers Labor Relations Bulletin, no original copy has been found, nor does NAM list it among its pamphlets from that era. Parts of the plan use language sympathetic to the views of labor organizers. The Remington Rand company did indeed ruthlessly suppress the strikes, as documented in a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, and the plan has been accepted as a guide to the methods that were used. At least one source names the strikebreaker Pearl Bergoff and his so-called "Bergoff Technique" as the origin of the formula. Rand and Bergoff were both indicted by the same federal grand jury for their roles in the Remington Rand strike.
Noam Chomsky has described the formula as the result of business owners' trend away from violent strikebreaking to a "scientific" approach based on propaganda. An essential feature of this approach is the identification of the management's interests with "Americanism," while labor activism is portrayed as the work of un-American outsiders. Workers are thus persuaded to turn against the activists and toward management to demonstrate their patriotism.Nightfall and Other Stories
Nightfall and Other Stories (1969) is an anthology book compiling 20 previously published science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov. Asimov added a brief introduction to each story, explaining some aspect of the story's history and/or how it came to be written.Pearl Bergoff
Pearl Louis Bergoff (1876 – 1947) was an American strikebreaker, the most notable professional strikebreaker of the mid-1930s.Replacement player
In professional sports, a replacement player is an athlete who is not a member of the league's players association and plays during a labor dispute such as a strike or lockout, serving as a strikebreaker.Replacement worker
Replacement worker is a person employed to replace workers who are on strike, recently sacked, away on long term leave (such as for military duty) or otherwise lost. For possible uses of this term see:
Scabs might refer to:
Scabs (musician), drummer for Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13
Derogatory nickname for strikebreakerShannon Eastin
Shannon Eastin (born 1970) is the first female official of the National Football League (NFL). She was hired as a replacement official in 2012 during the lockout of full-time referees which began in June. She officiated her first game on August 9, a preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Diego Chargers as the Line Judge. She officiated her first regular season game on September 9, between the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams. She has spent 16 combined seasons officiating for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, high school games, and for the Arizona Cardinals Red and White game.Although several NFL players expressed support for Eastin being the first female NFL official, several writers such as Darin Gantt of Profootballtalk.com and Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times lamented that she broke this gender barrier while being a strikebreaker. The NFL Referees Association also stated that Eastin shouldn't be allowed to officiate NFL games due to her participation in the World Series of Poker.Eastin is also active in judo. At age 11, she was the youngest judo athlete to train in the U.S Olympic Training Center. She has won six national judo championships. Eastin owns a company called SE Sports Officiating, which trains officials in football and basketball.Strikebreaker (short story)
"Strikebreaker" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the January 1957 issue of The Original Science Fiction Stories under the title "Male Strikebreaker" and reprinted in the 1969 collection Nightfall and Other Stories under the original title "Strikebreaker". Asimov has stated the editorial decision to run the story as "Male Strikebreaker" "represents my personal record for stupid title changes"."Strikebreaker" had its genesis in June 1956 when Asimov, who then lived in Boston, Massachusetts, was planning a trip to New York City. A group of some three dozen technicians was threatening to go on strike, which would have the effect of shutting down the New York subway system, making travel within the city virtually impossible. The threatened strike did not happen, and Asimov was able to make the trip, but the situation inspired him to write a story about a strike by a single man that would shut down an entire world.Technische Nothilfe
Technische Nothilfe (abbreviated as TN, TeNo, TENO; literally: 'Technical Emergency Help') was a German organisation. It began as a strikebreaker organisation after the first world war, but developed into a volunteer emergency response unit. During the Nazi period TN became in charge of technical civil defence.The Chronicle Herald
The Chronicle Herald is a broadsheet newspaper published in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada owned by Sarah Dennis of Halifax. The largest newspaper company in Nova Scotia and the largest independently owned newspaper company in Canada, The Chronicle Herald was also the highest circulation newspaper in the Atlantic provinces until recently.The newspaper has lost ground to online competitors as well as the free daily StarMetro Halifax (formerly Metro Halifax), which recently became the most-read newspaper in Halifax according to 2015–2016 readership figures.The paper's newsroom staff were locked out of work from January 2016 until August 2017. Herald management continued to publish using strikebreaker labour, and were accused by the union of refusing to bargain in good faith with the intention of union busting.The River (1984 film)
The River is a 1984 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell, written by Robert Dillon and Julian Barry, and stars Mel Gibson, Sissy Spacek, and Scott Glenn. The film tells the story of a struggling farm family in the Tennessee valley trying to keep its farm from going under in the face of bank foreclosures and floods. The father faces the dilemma of having to work as a strikebreaker in a steel mill to keep his family farm from foreclosure. It was based on the true story of farmers who unknowingly took jobs as strikebreakers at a steel mill after their crops had been destroyed by rain.
The film was released theatrically on December 19, 1984 by Universal Pictures. It received mixed reviews, with critics praising Spacek's performance and the cinematography, but criticizing the screenplay, execution, and Gibson's performance, whom many considered to have been miscast. It was a box office failure, grossing only $11.5 million against an $18 million budget. Despite that it received five nominations at the 57th Academy Awards including Best Actress (for Spacek).Ådalen 31
Ådalen 31 (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈoːdɑːlɛn]; released in the United States as Adalen Riots) is a 1969 Swedish drama film directed by Bo Widerberg. It depicts the 1931 Ådalen shootings, in which Swedish military forces opened fire against labour demonstrators in the Swedish sawmill district of Ådalen killing five people, including a young girl.
The film was X-rated in the United States. It won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.