|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
|Procedure for settlement of Rockefeller Plan grievances. Courtesy of the Bessemer Historical Society.|
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To learn more check out Representation and Rebellion: The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 1914-1942 by Dr. Jonathan Rees.