Bay View Rolling Mill : The Reason We Exist
Photograph of state militia at Bay View Rolling Mill.
May 5, 1886.

What's the story?:
On May 5, 1886, tragedy struck Bay View. There had been a nationwide push for an eight-hour workday, where the goal was to lessen workers' hours to eight a day, while they would still take home the same amount of pay. By 1886, there were 12,000 Milwaukeens in unions. An Eight Hour League was formed and gave owners until May 1 to comply with their demands. Most owners refused. Although many mill workers agreed with the eight-hour goals, there were some mixed feelings; the plant had just returned to production after a long strike, and some workers did not want to be idle again.

After the deadline arrived and demands were not met, 7,000 workers went on strike throughout the city. By Monday, May 3, there were 15,000 workers on strike, and many plants closed throughout the city. The following day, a large group of Polish workers met at St. Stanislaus Church and proceeded to march to the mill. Labor leaders met with plant officials, who refused the eight hour demands. After this, Governor Jeremiah Rusk called in three companies of the state militia, and they spent the night at the plant. (Continued on next slide)
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