Workmen’s Boycott

One of the more common types of nonviolent protest is called a Workmen’s Boycott. This type of protest usually involves workers refusing to work because their supplies or tools are being provided by unnacceptable means.
Some examples of the reasons for a Workmen’s Boycott are:

Foreign Supplies

Less common currently, a boycott against foriegn supplies is when workmen refuse to work because their tools or supplies are coming from another country. Workmen generally refused to work because accepting goods from other countries was not supporting their own economy.

New Machinery

Another reason for a Workmen’s Boycott are machine-made instead of man-made supplies or goods. Workmen would refuse to work because their equipment was coming from machines that were replacing other men’s jobs.

Nonunion Men, Women, and Children

Understandably, Workmen will often refuse to work if they find that their supplies are being made in factories employed by nonunion woman and children. This was common in the history of the United States. For example, the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners would not use supplies manufactured in a mill which employed women and children from 1896 to approximately 1910.

Bad Conditions

Another likely reason for a Workmen’s Boycott would be if the tools and supplies are coming from a factory or mill that has disgraceful working conditions. Sometimes called sweatshops, these factories or mills aren’t providing adequate breaks, heating or cooling, or they have in general bad conditions for children, women, or men. Workmen would boycott and refuse to work until these conditions were made better in the other factory.

The number one way for a worker to show his disdain is by refusing to work with the supplies or tools. Often the pressure on the employer leads to new contracts and better conditions. This nonviolent means of protest is usually a better call for action then violence. Rather than have employees hurt or incarcerated, employers have well-bodied and able men and women ready to work as soon as their demands are met. A Workmen’s Boycott can happen many different reasons but the results are the same, the employer is forced to make a change.

Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.

Also check out The Politics of Nonviolent Action Part One / Part Two / Part Three.

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