Born out of a disagreement between Labor and the Steel Industry, the beginnings of the 1952 Steel Strike can be found in 1951. The stakes were quite high when negotiations began to break down between companies such as U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel and the United Steelworkers labor union. The United States was involved in the Korean War and President Truman had been briefed that an interruption of steel production could severely hamper the war effort.
After talks broke off in April, fearing the pending announced strike, President Truman nationalized the steel mills on public television an hour and a half before the strike was to begin. The strike was immediately called off and the steelworkers went to work on the morning the strike had been planned, April 9th, 1952. The steel companies went to court and eventually succeeded when the Supreme Court declared that President Truman had overstepped his authority when he nationalized the factories inYoungstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer at noon on June 2, 1952. The steel companies were returned to their owners that afternoon and the Steelworkers left the factories on strike all on the same day.
Collective bargaining began on June 5th, but by June 17th, defense plants that built tanks and other arms began cutting back to 1/4 time due to a lack of raw materials to continue. Meanwhile, the unions bargained with the steel industry rather than a single company, but it also negotiated in a divide and conquer manner with weaker plants in order to maximize benefit from the workers. By June 23, the strike ended in a victory for the Steelworkers who managed to gain nearly everything they had proposed in the Autumn of 1951.