"Let the world know that in 1886, in the State of Illinois, eight men were sentenced to death because they believed in a better future; because they had not lost their faith in the ultimate victory of liberty and justice!" - Albert Parsons, Haymarket Martyr, hung by the State fighting for your 8-hour day.
I’m Kevin Cook, and This Week in Labor History
Wednesday, June 12
50,000 members of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen employed in meatpacking plants walked off their jobs on this day in 1904. Their demands included equalization of wages and conditions throughout U.S. plants.
In 1914 in Butte, MT, there was an incident at the Speculator mine when Muckie McDonald encouraged fellow workers to refuse to show their union cards. Evening shift workers at Speculator and Black Rock stayed out in support of protesting workers.
The walkout stilled 1,200 workers and started a week of big trouble.
Thursday, June 13
A riot erupted at the Miner’s Union Day parade in Butte Montana on this day in 1914. Mayor Frank Curran was pushed out of second-story window. Frustration had been growing for decades. In 1914, miners were being paid $3.50 a day, the same as in 1878, despite the fact that the price of copper had more than doubled in that same time period.
Friday, June 14
The Butte Workingmen's Union formed during a strike over a wage cut from $3.50 to $3 a day at the Alice and Lexington mines on this day in 1878.
Miner's Union Day was born on this day in 1887 in Butte, Montana. The Bluebird Mine was the final mine to join the union, and miners marched down the street to sign up.
In West Virginia in 1921, which was under martial law due to ongoing violence between striking miners and thugs hired by the mining companies, state police and vigilantes raided the Lick Creek tent colony. 47 strikers were beaten and arrested. Within a few months, much of West Virginia would be engaged in the largest civil uprising in U.S. history, as 10,000-15,000 union coal miners battled cops and scabs.
In 1924, the Ku Klux Klan attacked San Pedro, California IWW members during a benefit for 2 workers killed in a railroad accident. The KKK violently beat 300 union members; kidnapped, tarred, and feathered others, destroyed the meeting hall, and scalded 2 children by holding them down and burning them with a pot of boiling coffee. (IWW, We never forget.)
Saturday, June 15
Eleanor Roosevelt joined the Women's Trade Union League on this day in 1922; The group was founded almost 20 years earlier to help women workers organize for better working conditions.
The Battle of Century City took place on this day in 1990. Los Angeles police, protecting company profits, attacked 500 janitors and their supporters during a peaceful Service Employees International Union demonstration against cleaning contractor ISS. The event generated public outrage that resulted in recognition of the workers' union and spurred the creation of an annual June 15 Justice for Janitors Day.
Sunday, June 16
Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting on this day in 1873.
The Railroad Union leader Eugene V. Debs spoke in Canton, Ohio on the relation between capitalism and war on this day in 1918. 10 days later, he was arrested under the Espionage Act, and eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison for publicly opposing World War One.
In Butte Montana in 1986, open pit mining resumed 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 affect company profits and the bottom line.
Inacom Corporation, once the world’s largest computer dealer, sent 5,100 employees an e-mail instructing them to call a toll-free phone number; when they called, a recorded message announced they had been fired. That was in the year 2000.
Monday, June 17
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones lead a rally in Philadelphia to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state's textile mills on this day in 1903. Three weeks later, the 73-year-old lead a march to New York City to plead with President Theodore Roosevelt to help improve conditions for the children.
Tuesday, June 18
Susan B Anthony was fined $100 on this day for voting for President in 1873.
In 1918, 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.
In 1980 in Butte Montana, union mine workers went on strike until November 21, 1980, their third longest strike, lasting four and a half months.
This Week in Labor History is compiled by Kevin D. Curtis.
For KBMF, I’m Kevin Cook.