|The Journal for MultiMediaHistory
Volume 1 Number 1 ~ Fall 1998
Thomas J. Kriger
In an effort to circumvent the DFU blockade, Sheffield Farms
employees in Heuvelton mounted their own defense, sending out stake-rack
trucks or closed vans to collect the milk of non-strikers. The milk was
then delivered with a police escort. The first two photographs that follow
show the different trucks used to circumvent the DFU picket line. In the
third photograph, a plant employee unloads milk onto a ramp which is guarded
by a law enforcement officer armed with a rather stout club (last photo
below, far right foreground).
Playing time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
|Police and FarmersTwo Accounts.
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The following four photographs show state police officers, armed with large clubs, guarding the daily milk trains and escorting milk tank trucks from the Sheffield Farms plant in Heuvelton. Milk processed at the Sheffield plant was shipped by rail to New York City.
The DFU's Fight to Close Milk Plants in Canton, New York
In Canton, the DFU had much greater success in closing the large Sheffield Farms plant. Here large numbers of DFU farmers and their supporters (first two photographs below) were peacefully and quickly able to dry up the plant in a manner more in keeping with Archie Wright's instructions to avoid violence. The third photograph (bottom, left) and the fourth (bottom, right) reveal the intense negotiations that typically took place between DFU pickets and drivers attempting to deliver their milk. They also show that after much discussion, most nonstriking farmers peacefully surrendered their milk. DFU pickets then took the milk off the trucks and dumped it by the side of the road.
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by Fred Dashnaw, Sr. From
Claudia Griffin and the author.
With the New York City milk supply cut by as much as sixty percent by the strike's third day, the DFU received welcome assistance from New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Hoping to avoid a milk shortage, the mayor called on the DFU and major co-ops and dealers to send representatives to a conference at the World's Fair grounds in Queens, where he hoped to broker an end to the strike.
New York Times, August 19, 1939.
Farmers, editors, and merchants hailed the DFU's triumph across upstate New York. The Watertown Times pointed to "the overwhelming public support that the farmers received in their strike" as a significant factor in the union victory, and added: "The Dairy Farmers Union emerges on top. In few short years it has become the dominant organization throughout the entire milkshed. And why should this not be so? The union was formed as an organization of producers for the benefit of producers."
The largest DFU victory celebration occurred in Watertown, New York, on September 30. Union supporters organized a rally and parade complete with floats, a motorcycle escort, and high school marching bands. The Lewis County DFU organization sponsored a float upon which solemn, black-clad mourners grieved over graves bearing the names of the Big Three milk dealers. Following the parade, which the Watertown Daily Times called "the best of its kind ever held here," rain-soaked farmers and their supporters moved to the Watertown High School auditorium. They heard speeches from Archie Wright, Earl Latham, Jefferson County DFU chair; William T. Field, president of the Watertown Chamber of Commerce; Watertown Daily Times Editor Harold Johnson, and Congressman Francis Culkin of Oswego. Culkin accused Governor Lehman of "indifference to dairymen's needs," and called for "the abolition of both the bargaining agencies and the 'milk trust.'" Johnson called the DFU "a grassroots farmers' movement which won," and characterized Archie Wright as a "sturdy, resourceful, fighting Yankee."
| Dairy Strike: Part I
||Dairy Strike: Part III
| Dairy Strike: Part II
||Dairy Strike: Part IV |
Notes for Part III:
36. Watertown Daily Times, 22 August 1939,
4. [Return to text]
37. Watertown Daily Times, 28 August 1939,
3. [Return to text]
38. Watertown Daily Times, 29 August 1939,
6. [Return to text]
39. Watertown Daily Times, 30 September 1939,
18; New York Times, 1 October 1939, 12. [Return to text]
36. Watertown Daily Times, 22 August 1939, 4. [Return to text]
37. Watertown Daily Times, 28 August 1939, 3. [Return to text]
38. Watertown Daily Times, 29 August 1939, 6. [Return to text]
39. Watertown Daily Times, 30 September 1939, 18; New York Times, 1 October 1939, 12. [Return to text]