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Representation and Rebellion

The Rockefeller Plan and the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 1914-1942

By Jonathan H. Rees

Publication Year: 2010

"Rees makes effective use of new sources to give a more nuanced understanding of the operation of one of the nation's more progressive company unions. He makes a strong case, in his conclusion, for the argument that, whatever the limitations of company employee plans, they provide workers with more protection than no union, and they often plant the seeds for the emergence of truly independent unions."—Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, Business History Review

In response to the tragedy of the Ludlow Massacre, John D. Rockefeller Jr. introduced one of the nation's first employee representation plans (ERPs) to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in 1915. With the advice of William Mackenzie King, who would go on to become prime minister of Canada, the plan - which came to be known as the Rockefeller Plan - was in use until 1942 and became the model for ERPs all over the world. In Representation and Rebellion Jonathan Rees uses a variety of primary sources - including records recently discovered at the company's former headquarters in Pueblo, Colorado - to tell the story of the Rockefeller Plan and those who lived under it, as well as to detail its various successes and failures. Taken as a whole, the history of the Rockefeller Plan is not the story of ceaseless oppression and stifled militancy that its critics might imagine, but it is also not the story of the creation of a paternalist panacea for labor unrest that Rockefeller hoped it would be. Addressing key issues of how this early twentieth-century experiment fared from 1915 to 1942, Rees argues that the Rockefeller Plan was a limited but temporarily effective alternative to independent unionism in the wake of the Ludlow Massacre. The book will appeal to business and labor historians, political scientists, and sociologists, as well as those studying labor and industrial relations.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvii

The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) came into existence as a result of the merger of the Colorado Coal and Iron Company and the Colorado Fuel Company in 1892. By 1910 it employed approximately 15,000 people, about...

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pp. xix-xx

Thanks to the archivists at the Bessemer Historical Society who were working there during the time of my research for this book: Jay Trask, Bev Allen, Wendy Fairchild, and M’lissa Morgan. They made their reading room a home away...

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pp. 1-12

In 1926, Ernest Richmond Burton “broadly defined” employee representation as “any established arrangement whereby the working force of a business concern is represented by persons recognized by both the management and the employees...

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1: Memories of a Massacre

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pp. 13-36

In 1918, John D. Rockefeller Jr. made his second trip to Colorado since the Great Coalfield War of 1913–1914. On May 30 a chauffeur-driven car carrying him, his wife, Abby, and Mackenzie King arrived at a gathering of approximately...

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2: Student and Teacher

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pp. 37-59

When John D. Rockefeller Jr. introduced the employee representation plan (ERP) that would bear his name before an audience of miners in Pueblo, he explained that four parties are involved in every corporation: the stockholders...

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3: Between Two Extremes

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pp. 61-84

Since the inception of employee representation plans (ERPs) around the beginning of the twentieth century, trade unionists and others sympathetic to workers have denounced ERPs such as the one in use at Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) as “company unions” because...

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4: Divisions in the Ranks

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pp. 85-110

Andrew J. Diamond was born in Joliet, Illinois, on June 27, 1877. In 1896 he went to work in the rod mill at Illinois Steel Company, which became part of the giant U.S. Steel Corporation in 1901. Diamond left Illinois Steel to take...

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5: The Rockefeller Plan in Action: The Mines

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pp. 111-134

In the late summer and fall of 1919, before Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) became embroiled in a nationwide coal strike, Paul F. Brissenden of the U.S. Department of Labor conducted a series of meetings across southern Colorado among...

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6: The Rockefeller Plan in Action: The Mill

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pp. 135-157

On September 25, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson delivered the final speech of his nationwide tour in support of the Treaty of Versailles and the Charter of the League of Nations contained therein at Pueblo’s new Civic Auditorium...

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7: New Union, Same Struggle

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pp. 159-180

On the morning of November 21, 1927, five weeks into a strike that had stopped production at most coal mines across Colorado, approximately 500 miners and their wives arrived at the north gate of the Columbine Mine. Permanent replacement...

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8: Depression, Frustration, and Real Competition

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pp. 181-205

Throughout the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. took his family on various vacations in the American West and often stopped in southern Colorado. While visiting Pueblo in 1926, Rockefeller and his sons toured the Minnequa Works twice...

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pp. 207-220

Increasingly uninterested in his earlier efforts at labor relations reform as the decades passed, John D. Rockefeller Jr. never acknowledged that his experiment in industrial relations at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) had gone...

Appendix 1: The Colorado Industrial Plan (also known as the Rockefeller Plan) and the Memorandum of Agreement

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pp. 221-238

Appendix 2: Employee Representatives at CF&I Coal mines, 1915–1928, and Employee Representatives at Minnequa Works, 1916–1928

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pp. 239-266


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pp. 267-311

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Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 313-315

The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) Archives is undoubtedly one of the largest corporate archives available to anyone interested in studying the history of a U.S. business. As I write these words, it is also in disarray. A team...


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pp. 317-325

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320401
E-ISBN-10: 1607320401
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870819643
Print-ISBN-10: 087081964X

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 12
Publication Year: 2010