December 22, 1938

Workers that were part of the Oil Workers’ International Union in Tulsa, voted to strike on December 22, 1938 against the Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation over the lack of negotiations about seniority, vacation, and using the union to bargain for workers. Violence in Tulsa broke out, with the police using tear gas and strikers cutting telephone lines, destroying property at Mid-Continent owned gas stations, and bombings of pipelines. The National Guard was eventually called before being withdrawn a few months later by Governor Ernest W. Marland. The strike lasted until March 21, 1940, when an agreement was reached and the strikers returned to work, with the promise that fired strikers would be rehired.

Mid-Continent Oil Refinery in Tulsa with the skyline in the background.

For more information, visit the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Photo credit: Oklahoma Historical Society, Gateway to Oklahoma History, Mid-Continent Oil Refinery