In "The Craftsmen's Empire," Couvares writes that Pittsburgh was thoroughly in the hands of the workers in terms of their relationship with the owners of businesses. The title of the chapter refers to the specialization of skills which gave workers that power and which restricted the power of employers. Simply put, the employers needed the skills of the craftsmen and had at that point not yet devised a plan whereby they could control the relationships of the workplace.
Again, however, it would be misleading to state that the unions lost all their power. They were able to gain some victories, but those victories did not change the power relations which increasingly favored the steel owners over the workers. Although Couvares focuses on the period up to 1919, he does not that it was not until the 1930s that the unions began to be able to battle the owners on equal ground. However, it took the Depression and major political, economic and social upheavals before the powerful hold of steel on the city could be loosened in an important way.
We see, then, that Couvares has painted a thorough portrait of the forces at work which resulted in the shift to a steel-controlled city through the four decades covered in the book. Once the process of industrialization had gotten under way, the changes in Pittsburgh appear to have been inevitable. The nature of capitalism as described by Couvares is such that power increasingly accrues to the big corporations, and is increasingly lost to the workers in the industries controlled by those corporations.
Couvares in the next few chapters makes clear that there were other fluctuations in labor and social relations through the 1890s. For example, there was a law and order movement in the 1880s which had little actual impact on the city. On the other hand, that movement was an indirect sign that the city was gradually coming under the control of politicians and powerful social and economic leaders who favored the corporations over