The Mohawk Valley Formula

An Example of the Use of Propaganda (from 1937)

Lee recounts an incident in Ilion, NY and a National Labor Relations Board ruling in 1937. The incident involved a labor strike and management tactics used to crush the union. Not one of the greater chapters in U.S industrial history, but instructive for our purposes. Here's an outline of the "Mohawk Valley Formula" as used to break a strike. Note the role played by propaganda.

  1. Via threats to close the factory, form, a "citizen's committee."
  2. Use established media to distribute propaganda portraying union leaders as "agitators" that threaten the law and order of the community.
  3. Under #2, induce the community to prepare for violence. Extra weapons for the police are needed.
  4. Organize mass meetings of citizens to show apparent support for the company.
  5. Promote the formation of a large force of auxiliary police officers (armed).
  6. Set up a company-controlled organization of "loyal employees" to encourage strikers to return to work.
  7. Publish a plant-reopening date.
  8. Use the resources developed in #s 1, 3, 5, and 6 to attack and demoralize the striking workers and almost compel them to return to work.
  9. Reopen the plant with supporters present. Have lots of appropriate speeches.
  10. Keep up the show of force; this demoralizes holdout strikers.
  11. Maintain the flood of propaganda.
The use of propaganda is clear. The union leaders were portrayed as "outside agitators" and troublemakers. Other examples should be easy to find.