(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

The strike at the Trenartha Tin Plate Works had lasted so long without any sign of a settlement that the directors had begun to fear for their dividends. They had all gathered at the Underwood home at the request of the workers, and at first there was some talk of compromise. Facing them, however, was the stern figure of the chairman of the board, seventy-five-year-old John Anthony, who refused to consider any plan for compromise.

Anthony belonged to the old school of businessmen who refused to move with the times. For him there could be only one master at the plant, and that was John Anthony himself. He had defeated four strikes in his thirty-two years as chairman of the board, and he was certain that a little more perseverance would defeat the strikers once more.

The other directors were a little uneasy under his stern refusal. In his report Underwood, the plant manager, had made no attempt to disguise the terrible suffering of the striking workers and their families. The directors were also aware that if the strike lasted much longer their stockholders would begin to protest strongly.

Although the union had withdrawn support from the strikers because two of their conditions exceeded the prevailing standards, Simon Harness, a Trades Union official, had been sent to attempt mediation between the board and the workers. His interview with the directors accomplished nothing because of Anthony’s obstinacy. The meeting between the representatives of the workers and the directors was equally unhappy. Roberts, the leader of the striking workmen, was just as unyielding on his side as Anthony was on his. Both sides faced a deadlock.

Conditions among the workers were so terrible that many of them were ready to give in, but Roberts remained adamant. Mrs. Roberts was dying; her weak heart could not stand the cold and hunger which the strike imposed upon...

(The entire section is 774 words.)