During the New Deal of the 1930s, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) formed the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) under the leadership of CIO president John L. Lewis. Following successful CIO strikes in the rubber and automobile industries, SWOC signed hard-won contracts with U.S. Steel and Jones & Laughlin Steel, the nation's largest steelmakers, in early 1937. On May 26 SWOC struck three "Little Steel" companies for similar recognition: Inland, Republic, and Youngstown Sheet and Tube, many of whose operations were concentrated in eastern Ohio. By early June the strike idled more than 28,000 Canton, Massillon, Warren, and Youngstown steelworkers in the first major steel strike since 1919. (continued on other side)
[continued from other side] Despite the intervention of Governor William Davey and the federal Steel Mediation Board, no negotiated settlement emerged and violence escalated at many Little Steel towns. In Massillon, police, special deputies, and Republic Steel security forces confronted strikers in front of SWOC headquarters with tear gas and gunfire on the evening of July 11. Three strikers were killed and five wounded. Unfavorable publicity and the National Guard ended the strike by mid-July. Despite this setback, SWOC charged Little Steel with unfair labor practices before the new National Labor Relations Board and eventually won signed contracts in the Ohio mills by 1942. As one of the most violent strikes of the 1930s, the Little Steel Strike led to a break between organized labor and the New Deal-era Democratic Party.