Colorado Fuel and Iron: Culture and Industry in Southern Colorado

The Employee Representation Plan

The first meeting of the CF&I Employee Representation Plan, 1915. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. is on the ground, front center. Courtesy, Bessemer Historical Society.

The Rockefeller Employee Representation Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company

In 1915 the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company instituted an employee representation plan in order to bring labor peace to the company's coal fields. It did so at the behest of its chief stockholder, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who suffered many personal attacks for his role in the infamous Ludlow Massacre of 1914 that left seventeen people dead, including women and children. While the legitimacy of most company unions were often questioned, and for good reason, transcripts of CF&I company management meetings with the plan’s labor representatives suggests that Rockefeller and his management staff took this effort seriously. Indeed, Rockefeller believed that this kind of organization would bring about permanent labor peace.

The plan seems to have worked well for a time. Scores of employee grievances were settled by the plan apparatus. Workers who complained about wages, ethnic and racial discrimination, working hours, and other common labor problems were able to file grievances, and there appears to have been a serious attempt by management to solve those grievances peacefully. There were, however, many more labor/management relations problems deriving from the Rockefeller Plan in the following years.
Procedure for settlement of Rockefeller Plan grievances. Courtesy of the Bessemer Historical Society.

This article is incomplete. Please contact the Steelworks Center of the West if you would like to help us complete it.

To learn more check out Representation and Rebellion: The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 1914-1942  by Dr. Jonathan Rees. 


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