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"In May the agreement between the packers and the unions expired, and a new
agreement had to be signed."
Negotiations between the Meat Workers’ Union and the packinghouse owners begin to break down. The price of meat has gone up in past years, so the unions demanded more pay. The bosses denied the pay, so word went out to all the packing plants on the East Coast and in the Mid-West, and soon the great “Beef Strike” begins.
The Jungle http://www.gradesaver.com/the-jungle/study-guide/section9/