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Alaskan Oil Strike of 1937 (Napoleon's World)

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The Alaskan oil strike of 1937 was one of the most devastating economic episodes and a pivotal moment in Alaskan history, in which almost three-fourths of the nation's petroleum and gas workers went on strike for twenty-seven days in late September and early October, crippling the national economy and bringing the national boom of the past seven and a half years to a halt, and causing skyrocketing gas and heating shortages throughout the country, and was the first time in the 20th century in which organized popular discontent was able to force major concessions from the Alaskan government and topple a sitting regime.

The strike originated in a dispute between employees at the Gazova-3 refinery near Evgenigrad and the managers from Great North Petroleum, which owned the refinery and about two-thirds of the country's petroleum and gas reserves and production resources. Nationally renowned labor activist and former petroleum employee Anatoliy Chekhorov encouraged the workers to go on strike, and when hired thugs attacked the striking workers, Chekhorov's radio networks called the petroleum workers of Alaska to go home and refuse to work, instead of picketing or rioting as was had been the case during previous instances, as Alaska had no concrete national labor laws at the time. As many as one and a half million oil employees of all types of professions, and even some non-petroleum professionals, refused to work between September 20 and October 17, devastating the oil-dependant Alaskan economy. It is estimated that about 75% of Alaska's petroleum employees refused to go to work, which constituted as much as 20% of the total workforce in the country in the late 1930's, a staggering number. When challenged, Chekhorov's reply to the executives of Great North Petroleum was simply, "What are you going to do, fire all of us?" On October 7, the increasingly embattled and unpopular Komarov government agreed to abritrate meetings between the underground petroleum union and Great North Petroleum - when the talks collapsed on October 10, it became clear that Komarov stood on the side of the industry, forever damaging his reputation with the electorate.

With riots erupting country-wide, Komarov agreed to pass a hurried law through the Duma allowing for employees to collectively bargain for their wages, which also earned him the ire of his colleagues - he was ousted less than a month later. The workers ended the strike on October 17 having won the right to organize a union, a huge political and social coup. As the majority of the strike was nonviolent, it proved - along with the civil rights movements in Oceania and the United States - that concessions could be gained througn peaceful resistance, and proved the effectiveness of striking workers to simply go home and not work as opposed to rioting or picketing factories, where they could be attacked by strikebreakers. Many cite the success of the oil strike as being critical to the rise of the left-wing Kolov government that ruled from 1939 until 1944, and that the nationwide coordination of a disenfranchised group was similar to the Revolution of 1991 in its goals and methods.

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