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“Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize!" -President Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive Republican, Progressive Party Founder

Wednesday, 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, damaging 2 railroad bridges. Yet another example of unregulated “Free-Market” Capitalism - before the creation of the EPA. -1969

Thursday, June 23:

Butte Montana: Miner's Union Hall is demolished with dynamite. Charles Moyer, president of the Western Federation of Miners, goes to Butte in an attempt to mediate a conflict between factions of the miners local. It didn't go well. A gunfight in the Union hall killed one man; Moyer and other Union officers left the building, which was then leveled by a dynamite blast. -1914

Congress overrides President Harry Truman's veto of the anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act. Promoted by large business lobbies the law was a gift to the corporate interest intended to demobilize the growing Democratic American Labor movement and weaken Unions which had grown to represent 25 percent of the post WWII workforce. -1947

Friday, June 24:

Troops arrested 22 WFM Union members in Telluride, Colorado, accused them of being strike leaders, and illegally “deported” them at gun point.  This was a repeat of events in March, in which 60 Union miners were deported. -1904

Emma Goldman lectures in Butte, Montana. -1912

IWW Domestic Workers (Maids) Union reports they are supplying sandwiches to dozens of WWI draft resistors in the Duluth, Minnesota jail. -1917

Saturday, June 25:

10,000 people attend the dedication ceremony for The Haymarket Martyrs Monument in Chicago honoring the men who, while fighting for the 8-hour day, were framed and executed by the state for a bomb thrown, most now believe by Pinkertons, during a pro-8-hour day rally at Haymarket Square. (Never forget people died for the 8-hour work day). -1893

Decatur, Ill., police, protecting company profits, tear-gas workers at A.E. Staley plant gate one year into the company's two-and-a-half-year lockout of Paperworkers Local 7837. ("Tear Gas: the most effective agent used by employers to persuade their employees that the interests of Capital and Labor are identical." -T-Bone Slim) -1994  

Sunday, June 26:

The American Railway Union, in solidarity with the Pullman strike, launched a boycott of all trains carrying Pullman cars, turning the Pullman strike into a national strike that was eventually crushed by federal troops. Strike leader Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned and many workers were blacklisted for their involvement. 2 dozen strikers were murdered over the course of the strike. -1894

The Bisbee, Arizona IWW miner’s strike begins. Later 1,300 Union members, their supporters, and innocent bystanders were illegally “deported” at gun point from Bisbee by 2,000 armed vigilantes, over 200 miles in cattle cars, without food or water for 16 hours in the extreme desert heat. -1917

Monday, June 27:

An American icon, deaf, mute, blind Helen Keller, was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Author, Social Justice Activist, Socialist, proud IWW member. She became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and traveled the country fighting for women's suffrage, labor rights, socialism, antimilitarism, and other similar causes. -1880

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the "Wobblies," is founded at a 12-day-long convention in Chicago. By 1909 the IWW were involved in the "Free Speech Fights" of the west including Missoula, MT and Spokane, WA, where several hundred members, arrested for reading such things as the US Constitution in public, filled the jails and overwhelmed the courts eventually winning free speech rights for all. The Wobblies, advocates of "One Big Union" and the General Strike, have proudly defended the U.S. Bill of Rights, fought for Democracy, and social justice, and fought against Capitalistic tyranny for 113 years. -1905

Tuesday, June 28:

Birthday of Matthew Maguire, New Jersey Union machinist, who is 1882, proposed to the CLU (Central Labor Union) the creation of the Labor Day holiday to celebrate United States workers. -1850

The federal government sues the Teamsters to force reforms on the Union, the nation's largest. The following March, the government and the Union sign a consent decree requiring the direct election of the Union's president and the creation of an Independent Review Board. -1988


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