Building the Hoover Dam

Aug 2006
583
Waltheofshire
Frank Crow- the Dam overseer in charge of this great project- a wonder of the modern world- seems almost fascistic- by the comparison with some of Hitler's methods. Huge penaties would be incurred if he went behind schedule, and likewise- huge profits were to be made...for him and his board

Even 6mths ahead of schedule, Crow banned trade unions when men rallied around an undercover trade unionist(he had to go secret, TU's were banned!) died of accidents & carbon monoxide poisoning. Anyone complains, they're fired.

Company doctors and lawyers refuted in court the genuine illness claims of the workers(Ed Kraus in particular), many of whom suffered severe lung diseases in the tunnels near the Dam's foundations. The company then deliberately discredited many of the men.

On Aug 7th 1931, the men downed tools. Six Companies responded by sending in strike-breakers with guns and clubs- by coersion and intimidation by the Cop in charge- who was known to rule 'with a rod of iron' - the men were obliged to return to work(with cut wages) and he also kicked the trade unionists off the large site.

25% of every dollar the workers earned went back into the company coffers.

The temporary housing for the worker's women/kids by the site was delayed for months due to cost- (in the dirty conditions and extreme heat/cold several young women died). Shantytowns thus grew- the most notorious became known as Ragtown.

When housing was impressed upon Crow- by his own chief engineer- Carpenters had to build 2 houses every 3 days in the searing heat or be fired.

With work relentlessly going ahead 24hrs a day(3 shifts), accident rates increased (total deaths of 107 men)with no compensation for the widows, living conditions worsened for their families.

Only three days off per year- labour day; 4th July and Xmas day.

Men had money docked from their depleted wages when they finally had a water cooler installed, after pressure.

The great Dam was completed. Crow laughed all the way to the bank with a finishing payoff bonus of $4m(today's money), but how close were his methods to fascism?