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City Desk

This Week in Labor History (June 16 – 22):


“Labor Unions are the leading force for Democratization and progress.” -Noam Chomsky, MIT Professor, cognitive scientist, logician, social justice activist, IWW member


Wednesday, June 16:

Susan B. Anthony arrested for voting. -1873

Railroad Union leader Eugene V. Debs speaks in Canton, Ohio, on the relationship between capitalism and war. 10 days later he is arrested under the Espionage Act, eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison for publicly opposing war. -1918

Butte Montana: Open pit mining resumes with 188 non-union workers. The company offered the workers profit-sharing in place of the union. Profit-sharing is a company incentive plan that ultimately encourages the workers to fight any attempt to raise taxes on the company, hire more workers, decrease pollution, or anything that might effect company profits and the bottom line. -1986

Inacom Corp., once the world’s largest computer dealer, sends 5,100 employees an e-mail instructing them to call a toll-free phone number; when they call, a recorded message announces they have been fired. -2000


Thursday, June 17:

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones leads a rally in Philadelphia to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state's textile mills. Three weeks later the 73-year-old will lead a march to New York City to plead with President Theodore Roosevelt to help improve conditions for the children. -1903

Butte Montana: Union mine workers strike today, until November 21, 1980; their third longest strike, lasting four and a half months. -1980Top of Form



Friday, June 18:

Susan B Anthony fined $100 for voting for President. -1873

The American Federation of Teachers issued a charter to the St. Paul Federation of Women Teachers Local 28, and then, one year later, the issued a charter to the men’s teachers’ local. Both locals participated in the first organized teachers’ strike in the nation, in 1946. -1918


Saturday, June 19:

Silk workers struck in Paterson, New Jersey. The event escalated into a riot. Silk workers, forced to live as wage slaves and die young, had struck several times in the 19th century and again, in 1913 led by the IWW. -1912

The Women’s Day Massacre in Youngstown, Ohio, Police, protecting company profits, use tear gas and clubs on women and children, including infants in their mother's arms, during a strike at Republic Steel. When the cops in Youngstown couldn't find any union leaders to beat up, they went after women picketers who were sitting in chairs to support the strike. One union organizer later recalled, "When I got there I thought the Great War had started over again. Gas was flying all over the place and shots flying and flares going up and it was the first time I had ever seen anything like it in my life..." -1937


Sunday, June 20:

Birth of Albert Parsons, Haymarket Martyr. Falsely convicted and hanged by the government November 11, 1887 (aged 39) he was killed by the state because of his support of the working class and the 8-hour day. -1848

The American Railway Union, headed by Eugene Debs, is founded in Chicago. One of the early unions to organize by industry regardless of race or ethnicity which also included the Knights of Labor and IWW. -1893

Butte, Montana: Police shot 14 IWW union members during a labor clash. -1920

Butte, Montana: Newspaper strike stops publication of The Butte Miner, Anaconda Standard, and Butte Daily Post through July 4. -1927


Monday, June 21:

10 miners accused of being militant "Molly Maguires" are hanged in Pennsylvania. A private corporation initiated the investigation of the 10 through a private detective agency. A private police force arrested them, and private attorneys for the coal companies prosecuted them. "The state provided only the courtroom and the gallows," a judge said many years after the men had been murdered for the cause of Capitalism. -1877

100,000 Union members and supporters march in Solidarity with striking Detroit News and Detroit Free Press newspaper workers. -1997


Tuesday, June 22:

Violence erupts during a coal-mine strike at Herrin, Illinois. Striking United Mine Workers clash with strikebreakers. 36 workers killed, 22 of them non-Union strikebreakers. Those accused of the killings are tried and acquitted. -1922

The Cuyahoga River catches fire just downstream from Cleveland, Ohio and burns for 20 minutes, damages 2 railroad bridges. Yet another example of unregulated “Free-Market” Capitalism - before the creation of the EPA. -1969

This Week in Labor History is compiled by Kevin D. Curtis 



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