“The Strike:” The Packing House Daughter, Cheri RegisterThis novel tells the story of a small-town, working-class life in the mid 1900s. The daughter of a meatpacking company millwright, Cheri Register tells about the event, which divides her small town of Albert Lea during time of depression. Albert Lea, Minnesota was an industrial town of only 13,545 people. Surrounding the area was cornfields, lakes, cattail marshes, knolls, and oak groves. Albert Lea still was in the 1950s when this story began.
Cheri was an elementary student. Her school plans many field trips, which tend to be excursions in industrial technology. Cheri and her classmates visit places, which serve an entertainment and educational purpose.They have visited placed such as printing press, Coca-Cola, and egg hatching victories. Their next trip was different.
Cheri and her class were to visit the Wilson & Co. meatpacking industry. This was where Cheris father had worked since 1943. Not speaking much of his job Cheri didnt know much about her fathers work. This trip consisted of a parents signature because of the scene it may bring to the youngsters. Each kid had the option not to participate in the activity that morning since once they entered there was no turning back. They describe the trip as very scenic and educational. For the rest of the day the kids talked to each other about the incredible views, which they encountered.
Such as the hundreds of people who worked there and how the assembly lines for the animals just never ended, one after another after another.Wilson & Co. was a gigantic industrial factory in which many of the mid-class working life men supported their families by.
During this time the eight-hour working day laws were supported and workers did just that. An eight-hour day at Wilson & Co. itself was extremely demanding and tiresome to the workingman.
Cheris dad at this time was in a verbatim pattern of a workday, dinner, and falling asleep attempting to relaxing. Wilson & Co. decided to demand mandatory overtime of two hours. This made workers furious. Cheris dad himself would often work overtime just for the cash for odds and end payments needed around the house. Workers fought their boss in saying they didnt have to obey this demand. Wilson & Co.
reacted with a yellow-dog contract threatening if their workers didnt sign agreeing to work these extra hours then they would be asked to leave the plant and not return. After that the situation got even riskier with the plant stating how if you slipped up somehow, or refused to do what you were asked, no matter how outrageous, they could throw you out on the spot. At 6:30 on Tuesday, November 3, 1959, the United Packinghouse Workers of America called a nationwide strike against Wilson & Co. Fifty-six hundred production employees in Albert Lea, Omaha, Cedar Rapids, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Memphis did not take part in work for the next one hundred and nine days. It started with come and collected picketers fighting for their rights. Wilson & Co. stated if they do not come back to work basically their jobs would be taken over by scabs.
Cheris dad participated in the first day of the strike. A truck drove up to where he was exchanged words and then left. This was one of his neighbor workers, but not in their union being on opposing side, just small talked then left. Once the employees were not given in and these scabs were filling their jobs, many strikers began doing act of violence.
This really put a dividend in this small town. Many opposed the strikers and many agreed with the strikers. Acts such as fistfights, threats, and other disturbing actions overwhelmed this small town of Albert Lea.
After those inexcusable acts there were spirit-boosting displays of strength and solidarity, the rallies and marches that make stirring photos for history books. On January 30, 1960 at 7:30 that morning a parade of 2,500 marched twelve deep down Broadway. This parade demonstrated the peaceful act of the strikers and how much their jobs meant to them.
February 23, 1960, one hundred and nine days later the workers were given their jobs back. Cheris dad though had to wait another two months to return as they thought he was involved in one of the many acts of violence. Cheris dad retired in 1982.The author writes in a first person, first hand experience view as she tells about her life growing up in a working-class family in the mid 1900s: 1943-1970. Cheri Register tells the story about her fathers involvement with the historical strike against the Wilson & Co. meatpacking industry. The Packinghouse Daughter was a really interesting book. This book provided the reader with incredible detail you could only understand if read the book.
If interested in learning about the development of industry during the depression time of the mid 1900s this is an excellent book to consider reading.