Omaha Daily Union

A unique but short-lived newspaper, the Omaha Daily Union, was the result of an 1874 printers’ strike against the Omaha Bee, established only a few years before, in 1871. A brief account by former printer Thomas J. Fitzmorris appeared in the Sunday Bee, June 19, 1921:

“The strike of January, 1874, scattered nearly all the printers engaged in it. . . . A score of the strikers stuck to their guns, organized a company and launched the Omaha Daily Union, an evening rival of The Bee, designed as a mouthpiece of the strikers’ cause, but developed into a lively newspaper. The Union was printed in the Redfield [print] shop, the same in which The Bee was born, and remained for nine months a force in the newspaper field. The staff consisted of Richard Pugh, business manager; C. D. Schultz, editor-in-chief; Billy Edwards, city editor; George Curtis, foreman; the rest at the cases or in the field seeking subscribers and ads. . . .

“For a time the Union maintained an air of prosperity and public favor. Congratulations poured in upon the staff. Members of the company were cheered by their supporters, patted on the back, glad-handed in favorite resorts, and loudly assured they were winners. But the Union’s cash box mocked the enthusiasm. Five dollars was about the average weekly wage divided for each of the boys, with an occasional extra dividend of $2 or $3. Now and then on Saturday evenings when the ghost walked on crutches, the gang would get together, scratch their several heads, and wonder how the short change could be stretched to cover boarding house needs or to soothe the longing for the high living of other days. . . . 

“The skurrying of newsboys calling, ‘Here’s yer Daily Union,’ carried precious little balm for the surge of disappointment. Gradually the hopeful company of 20 dwindled to 12, and these hung on until the fall, meanwhile working and watching for a buyer. He came in the person of a man named [E. N.] Sweet. He looked mighty sweet to the weary strikers, enabling them to divide $800 and quit. George Washington Frost managed the paper for a few weeks and then came the funeral. Who furnished the money is not definitely known, but tradition has it that it came from The Bee office and saved the day.”

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