Homestead Steel strike is a rebellion of workers at the Andrew Carnegie steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania between June and November 1892. The central cause of the attack was a lockout announced on June 30, 1892, in response to workers’ protests against a pay cut.


Homestead Steel strike was one of the most acute conflicts in the history of the US labor movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The situation happened when workers of the plant were negotiating the terms of new contracts because the previous agreement was due until June 1892. Employees were not satisfied with their wages, working hours, and they were aiming to get a better salary. Out of eight hundred workers, only twenty were members of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. However, these members’ expectations regarding new opportunities and better terms have never been met. Even though Andrew Carnegie, himself, showed his understanding of the position of other strikers in other factories, the conflict was not resolved peacefully.

About 8,000 people took part in the strike, initiated by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. After the strike began, the head of the Carnegie plant, Henry Clay Frick, hired strikebreakers and agents from the Pinkerton bureau to guard the production and managers. On July 6, 1892, a firefight broke out, and the Carnegie factory became the scene of the Homestead massacre. Seven workers and three agents from Pinkerton security agency were killed during a shootout between striking American workers and guards at the Homestead Steel facilities. The agents of the Pinkerton Bureau hired by the company attacked striking workers. After a fierce battle, the Pinkertons were forced to surrender. On July 10, the Governor of the Pennsylvania state decided to send the national guards to restore order, which had to settle Homestead strike on July 12. However, the workers of the plant continued to fight until November 20.

Among strikers were people of different classes and social communities, including women, migrants, non-labor union employees. All of them had a fear that they would not be able to earn enough, or they would be fired; these reasons caused the strike. That is why workers were forced to react violently because the matter was extremely crucial for them. Homestead strike showed the gap between the working class and wealthy entrepreneurs, who were protected by Pinkerton guards. Managers required employees to be silent and obedient; the working class noticed it and wanted to get power back. Still, the unequal distribution of welfare raised essential questions for authorities and people in the US.

The government played an essential role in restoring the order at the plant and showing the willingness to maintain the status quo even with the help of military forces. The Homestead Steel strike showed that the government had to participate in significant negotiations and act as a mediator between owners of companies and employees as the social differences and pressure. A vital role in the defeat of the strike was played by the refusal of the leaders of the American Federation of Labor to organize a movement of solidarity with the strikers. The effect of the strike was disastrous because it disrupted the role of labor unions who worked to protect workers’ rights. The failure of the Homestead Steel strike led to a decline in the negotiation power of employees and resulted in a decrease in their wages. The strike affected the results of the 1892 presidential election and contributed to the re-election of Grover Cleveland.