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#LaborHistory October 2, 2007: The Industrial Workers of the World (#IWW) Starbucks Workers Union won their grievances against the Starbucks in #EastGrandRapids, Michigan. #Starbucks chose to settle after the #NLRB busted them for anti-labor violations.
Today in Labor History October 2, 2007: The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Starbucks Workers Union won their grievances against the Starbucks in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. Starbucks chose to settle after the NLRB busted them for anti-labor violations.
Today in Labor History October 2, 1968: The Tlatelolco Massacre occurred in Mexico City. 15,000 students were demonstrating at the Plaza of Three Cultures against the army’s occupation of the University. The army, with 5,000 soldiers and 200 tanks, ambushed the students, opened fire, and killed nearly 300. They also arrested thousands. This occurred ten days before the opening of the Olympics, the same Olympics where Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved-fists in a Black Power salute. The U.S. contributed to the massacre by providing the Mexican military with radios, weapons, ammunition and riot control training. Furthermore, the CIA provided the Mexican military with daily reports on student activities in the weeks leading up to the massacre.
Chilean film maker Alejandro Jodorosky portrayed the massacre in his film “The Holy Mountain” (1973). Chilean author Roberto Bolano referenced it in his 1999 novel, “The Savage Detectives.”
Today in Labor History October 2, 1937: Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the execution of Haitians living in the border region of the Dominican Republic, resulting in the genocidal Parsley massacre of up to 35,000 Haitians. Trujillo was obsessed with race. He’d use pancake make-up to lighten his skin color and hide his Haitian roots. And even so, the wealthy Dominicans still snubbed him for his working-class family origins. One week prior to the massacre, he publicly accepted a gift of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, whose racial theories he clearly embraced. He used racism to distract Dominicans from their poverty, which had been exacerbated by the Great Depression, and by Trujillo’s corrupt rule.
Edwidge Danticat’s historical fiction, “The Farming of Bones,” takes place during the time of the massacre.
Today in Labor History October 2, 1800: Slave rebellion leader Nat Turner was born. In August, 1831, Turner led the only effective, sustained slave revolt in U.S. history. They killed over 50 people, mostly whites, but the authorities put down the rebellion after a few days. Turner survived in hiding for several months. White slave holders got together and executed over 50 slaves and severely punished dozens of non-slaves in the frenzy that followed the uprising. His actions set off a new wave of oppressive legislation by whites prohibiting the education, movement and assembly of slaves and free blacks, alike.
Today in Labor History October 1, 1971: Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila, considered by many to be one of the best and most brutal boxing matches ever. As many as 1 billion people watched the fight. Before the fight, Ali declared that the watch would be a "a killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila."
Today in Labor History October 1, 1964: The Free Speech Movement began on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, when activist Jack Weinberg was arrested for refusing to show his identification to the campus police while standing at an illegal political literature table. Thousands of students spontaneously surrounded the police car, which remained there for 32 hours, with Weinberg inside. Protesters used the car as a speaker's podium. The Free Speech Movement lasted for two years and was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students were fighting for, and won, the right to have public political activities on campus, particularly in support of the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War Movements.
Today in Labor History October 1, 1910: Twenty-one people were killed when the Los Angeles Times building was dynamited during a labor strike. Anarchists were immediately blamed. The Iron Workers had been engaged in a brutal and protracted battle with U.S. Steel and the American Bridge Company, which was busting their union with spies, informants, scabs and agents provocateur. Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Otis, who was viciously anti-union, provided propaganda for the bosses. By early 1910, the owners had driven nearly all the unions from their plants, except for the Iron Workers union, which had instigated a bombing campaign starting in 1906. In April 1911, private detective William Burns and Chicago police sergeant William Reed kidnapped union organizer James McNamara and held him hostage for a week prior to illegally extraditing him to Los Angeles for the bombings. Burns later arrested his brother John, but denied him access to an attorney. Both McNamaras had been arrested based on the confession of a third man who had likely been tortured. And both were likely innocent of the bombings. Eugene Debs accused Otis, himself, of the Times bombing. James McNamara spent the rest of his life in San Quentin, dying there in 1941. John served 15 years and then went on to serve as an organizer for the Iron Workers.
Today in Labor History October 1, 1851: 10,000 New Yorkers busted up a police station in Syracuse to free William "Jerry" Henry, a craftsman who was fleeing slavery in the south. He had been arrested by a US Marshall during the anti-slavery Liberty Party's state convention. Citizens of the city stormed the sheriff's office, freed Henry and helped him escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad. There were a lot of abolitionists living in New York, especially in Syracuse, including Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, and a large number of abolitionist Quakers and Unitarians. Consequently, Syracuse became known as the great central depot on the Underground Railroad. Jerry Rescue Day was celebrated every October 1 in Syracuse, until the start of the Civil War. The annual event included speeches, poetry, music, and organizing against slavery. They also collected funds to keep the Underground Railroad running in central New York.
Today in Labor History September 30, 1912: The Lawrence, Massachusetts “Bread and Roses” textile strike was in full swing. On this date, 12,000 textile workers walked out of mills to protest the arrests of two leaders of the strike. Police clubbed strikers and arrested many, while the bosses fired 1,500. IWW co-founder Big Bill Haywood threatened another general strike to get the workers reinstated. Strike leaders Arturo Giovannitti and Joe Ettor were eventually acquitted 58 days later. During the strike, IWW organizers Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn came up with the plan of sending hundreds of the strikers' hungry children to live with sympathetic families in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont, a move that drew widespread sympathy for the strikers. Nearly 300 workers were arrested during the strike; three were killed. After the strike was over, IWW co-founder and socialist candidate for president, Eugene Debs, said "The Victory at Lawrence was the most decisive and far-reaching ever won by organized labor."
Several novels have been written against the backdrop of this famous strike: The Cry of the Street (1913), by Mabel Farnum; Fighting for Bread and Roses (2005), by Lynn A. Coleman; Bread and Roses, Too (2006), by Katherine Paterson
#WorkingClass #LaborHistory #BreadAndRoses #union #strike #IWW #massachusetts #BigBillHaywood #GeneralStrike #police #PoliceBrutality #fiction #novel #HistoricalFiction #books #author #writer @bookstadon
Today in Labor History September 30, 1892: In the wake of the Homestead Steel Strike, union leaders were prosecuted for the crime of treason for the first time in U.S. history. Henry C. Frick, chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, convinced the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to issue warrants for the arrests of every member of the advisory board of the striking steel union for treason against the state. The 29 strike leaders were ultimately charged with plotting "to incite insurrection, rebellion & war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." During the strike, Pinkerton detectives killed seven workers, who were protesting wage cuts of 18-26%. Alexander Berkman tried to assassinate Frick, but failed, and spent many years in prison. He wrote about his imprisonment, and about anarchism, in his “Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist,” published by Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth Press.
#WorkingClass #LaborHistory #carnegie #homestead #steel #strike #union #Pinkertons #anarchism #union #treason #rebellion #AlexanderBerkman #EmmaGoldman #prison #memoir #books #author #writer @bookstadon
Today In Labor History September 29, 1941: Nazi forces, with the aid of the Ukrainian auxiliary police and local Ukrainian collaborators, began the two-day Babi Yar massacre, killing some 33,771 Jews. Other victims included Soviet prisoners of war, communists and Romani people. It was the largest single massacre in the Holocaust up to that date, and the 3rd largest, overall, after the 1941 Odessa massacre (>50,000 victims) and Aktion Erntefest of November 1943 in occupied Poland (> 42,000 victims). During the Nazi occupation, up to 150,000 people in total were murdered at Babi Yar.
Today In Labor History September 29, 1921: Lithuanian anarchist revolutionary Fanya Baron was executed by the Cheka on the personal order of Lenin. Baron spent her early life participating in the Chicago workers' movement and IWW. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, she moved to Ukraine and joined the Makhnovist movement. She was arrested and imprisoned by the Cheka. On July 1, 1921, she broke out of prison with the help of the Underground Anarchists and went to Moscow, where she was discovered and aided by Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. However, on August 17, 1921, she was discovered and arrested again by the Cheka, and ultimately executed.
Today in Labor History September 28, 2000: An uprising, known as the Second Intifada, began after the Camp David summit failed and Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Lebanon, visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers during this Intifada. Just over 1,000 Israelis died. A tribunal held Sharon personally responsible for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre, in Beirut, during the Lebanon War, in which 3,500 Palestinian civilian refugees were slaughtered by Phalangist forces, as Israeli soldiers looked on.
Today in Labor History September 28, 1920: Throughout September there were widespread armed occupations of Italian factories by workers. The actions originated in the auto factories, steel mills and machine tool plants, but spread to many other industries, including cotton mills, hosiery firms, lignite mines, tire factories, breweries & distilleries, steamships and warehouses in the port towns. At its height, 600,000 workers participated in the anti-capitalist protests for worker control and empowerment.
Today in Labor History September 28, 1919: Thousands of whites rampaged through Omaha, Nebraska, setting fire to the Courthouse, lynching Will Brown, a black civilian, and attempting to hang the reformist mayor. 2 whites died. It followed more than 20 race riots across the U.S. that summer. Several years earlier, ethnic Irish rioters drove the entire Greek community from Omaha. The African-American population of Omaha had doubled from 1910-1919. Many had been recruited to work as strike breakers in the stockyards, exacerbating the racism of white workers in town. Then a white woman falsely accused a black man of raping her. Will Brown was arrested, but the woman was unable to positively ID him. But the racist crowd didn’t buy it and lynched him anyway.
It is truly a wonderful thing to behold.
Today in Labor History September 27, 1962: Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was published, ushering in the modern environmental movement and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Today in Labor History September 27, 1903: The Wreck of the Old 97 U.S. railroad disaster occurred on this date. 11 people were killed when the train, traveling from Monroe, Virginia, to Spencer, North Carolina derailed and careened off the side of a bridge. It was traveling at excessive speed in an attempt to stay on schedule. The wreck became the subject of a popular ballad covered by The Statler Brothers (feat. Johnny Cash), Charlie Louvin of The Louvin Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Hank Williams III, Patrick Sky, Nine Pound Hammer, Roy Acuff, Boxcar Willie, Lonnie Donegan, and many others.
Available Now: Anywhere But Schuylkill, a working-class historical novel by Michael Dunn, from Historium Press and all the usual online retailers.
Today in Labor History September 26, 2014: A mass kidnapping in Iguala, Mexico. 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College were abducted and disappeared, most likely by local police, federal police and Mexican Army, possibly in collusion with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, as well. However, The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducted a 6-month investigation and concluded that the government’s story that the drug cartel mistook them for a rival gang and then murdered them and dumped their bodies in a garbage dump was scientifically impossible. The students had been on their way to the annual commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, in Mexico City. The mass kidnapping caused continued international protests and social unrest, leading to the resignation of Guerrero Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero. Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez was accused of masterminding the abduction, but was never put on trial. However, a month later, he was arrested for the murder of activist Arturo Hernández Cardona.
Today in Labor History September 26, 1874: Sociologist and photographer Lewis Hine is born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In 1908, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee and spent the next decade documenting exploited child labor to help the organization’s lobbying efforts to end child labor in American industry. The book cover for my novel, Anywhere But Schuylkill, is based pm a Hine photograph.
Great turnout tonight for the labor and transit walking tour, organized by DSA SF! Some highlights:
1: Column commemorating the 1934 general strike
2-3: Sculpture/mural honoring various labor struggles. At Mission & Steuart, across the street from Bloody Thursday, the police double murder that precipitated the strike
4: Mural about the 1916 Preparedness Day bombing, for which two radical labor organizers were framed and imprisoned
Today in Writing History September 25, 1897: William Faulkner, American writer and Nobel Prize laureate was born (d. 1962). He also won two Pulitzer Prizes for his fiction. His books, “The Sound and the Fury” (1929), “As I Lay Dying” (1930), “Light in August” (1932) and “Absalom Absalom!” (1936) are all on the Modern Library’s list of top 100 English-language novels of the 20th century.
Today in Writing History September 25, 1930: Shel Silverstein, American author, poet, illustrator, and songwriter was born (d. 1999). He is perhaps most remembered today for his amusing children’s poetry and fiction, like “The Giving Tree.” However, he also wrote many songs like "One's on the Way" and "Hey Loretta" (which were hits for Loretta Lynn), and "25 Minutes to Go," about a man on Death Row, and "A Boy Named Sue," both made famous by Johnny Cash. He also wrote "The Unicorn," which The Irish Rovers made famous. He also wrote many songs about drugs and sex, like “I Got Stoned and I Missed It,” “Quaaludes Again,” “Masochistic Baby,” and “Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball.”
Today in Writing History September 25, 1894: Playwright John Howard Lawson was born. Lawson wrote several plays about the working class, including “The International” (1928), which depicts a proletarian world revolution and “Marching Song” (1937), about a sit-down strike. In the late 1940s, Lawson was blacklisted as a member of the “Hollywood Ten” for his refusal to tell the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his political allegiances.
Today in Labor History September 24, 2018: Syrian Civil War: The International Revolutionary People's Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), in Syria, officially broke up. The IRPGF was an international collective of anarchist fighters that formed to defend the social revolution in Rojava in northern Syria, and to spread anarchism. The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA), was a queer anarchist subunit of the IRPGF who fought alongside the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG).
Today in Labor History September 24, 1919: The Ukrainian anarchist Black Army outmaneuvered and ultimately defeated the White Army of General Denikin. The Black Army (AKA Makhnovtsi) was an anarchist army made up of Ukrainian peasants and workers during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922. It was named after their leader Nestor Makhno and protected the free soviets and libertarian communes in the stateless anarchist liberated portion of Ukraine known as Makhnovshchina that lasted from 1918 to 1921.
Today in Labor History September 24, 1906: The Atlanta massacre ended on this day. Rioting by white mobs began on September 22 after newspapers published several luridly detailed and unsubstantiated reports of black men allegedly raping 4 local women. The racist mobs destroyed black businesses and homes, killing at least 25 African Americans (official reports). However, the actual death toll may be closer to 100. Black men, including university professors, met to organize defense committees and began arming themselves. However, police and state militias raided their meetings and disarmed them. One cop was killed in the fight. W. E. B. Du Bois, who was teaching at Atlanta University at the time, purchased a shotgun when rioting broke out. "I bought a Winchester double-barreled shotgun and two dozen rounds of shells filled with buckshot. If a white mob had stepped on the campus where I lived I would without hesitation have sprayed their guts over the grass." The massacre was not publicly marked in Georgia until 2006, its 100th anniversary, nor made part of state's curriculum for public schools until 2007.
Today in Labor History September 22, 1919: After union suppression 400,000 steelworkers in 50 cities struck to protest intolerable working conditions. Union leaders believed that if they could organizer the steel workers, it would lead to a massive wave of unionization across the country. Thus began the Great Steel Strike of 1919. The bosses, however, were able to turn public opinion against the workers by calling them Communists and immigrants. They attacked strike organizer William Z. Foster as a revolutionary syndicalist and Wobbly (IWW). And they called upon federal troops, which helped crush the strike after 3½ months, killing several workers.
Today in Labor History September 22, 1934: The United Textile Workers (UTW) strike committee ordered strikers back to work, ending the largest U.S. textile strike to date. Over 400,000 workers participated, mostly women. At least 18 of them died at the hands of militias, vigilantes and police. The strike began in the south and spread up the Eastern Seaboard. The governors of North and South Carolina deputized citizens (i.e., created vigilante squads) during the first week of the strike, issuing shoot-to-kill orders against any picketers who tried to enter a mill. As a result, 14 strikers were murdered in that first week. In the second week of the strike, the governor of Rhode Island mustered the National Guard, who used machine guns against strikers armed with flower pots and headstones they had taken from a nearby cemetery. The National Guard was also deployed in Maine, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In Georgia, strikers were arrested and held without charge, in World War I concentration camps. 34 strike leaders were held incommunicado.
Today in Labor History September 22, 1947: Norma McCorvey, American activist was born. She was the plaintiff in Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortions in the U.S. She later became an anti-abortion activist. However, before she died, she admitted that she had been paid to speak out against abortion. She had also accepted money to renounce her lesbian identity. The video clip, above, is from the satirical film, Citizen Ruth, with Laura Dern portraying a McCorvey-like character.
Today in Labor History September 21, 1976: Chilean national Orlando Letelier was assassinated in Washington, D.C. by agents of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), Pinochet’s secret police. An American, Ronni Moffitt, was also killed. The CIA was aware of the plans and knew of Pinochet’s involvement in the assassinations. Letelier had been a member of the government of Salvador Allende and was living in exile in the U.S. Immediately following the CIA-orchestrated coup that murdered Allende and placed Pinochet in power, Letelier was the first high-ranking Allende cabinet minister to be arrested. He spent over a year in various concentration camps, where he was repeatedly tortured. When he made it to the U.S., he worked for the Institute for Policy Studies. He wrote several articles critical of the Chicago Boys, the South American economists trained at the University of Chicago by Milton Friedman who went on to take on positions in their home countries’ governments, including Chile’s dictatorship, where they promoted free market policies and influenced leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
Today in Labor History September 21, 1896: The militia was sent to Leadville, Colorado, to bust a miners’ strike. Police and soldiers killed at least six miners during the 9-month strike. Leadville was a leading mining community during the latter half of the 19th century due to its rich silver deposits. At the time, Colorado’s statewide mining mortality rate was 6 deaths per thousand miners each year. So, just in Leadville, at least six miners were dying each year. The amazing mineral wealth of Colorado turned it into the nation’s main mining region, and contributed to of families like the Guggenheims. The Western Federation of Miners led the strike against mines, which were paying wages of less than $3/day. The union broke with the conservative American Federation of Labor after they lost the strike, and turned toward a more revolutionary socialism.
Today in Labor History September 21, 1913: Mother Jones led a march of miners' children through the streets of Charleston. Between 1912 and 1913, there were frequent violent conflicts during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike in West Virginia. At least 50 people died from violence during the strike, plus unknown numbers from starvation. Most of the violence was provoked by the Baldwin-Felts detectives that the mine owner brought in to bust the strike. During one incident, the sheriff and private detectives attacked a miners’ camp with an armored train, equipped with machine guns and high-powered rifles. After the attack, Ma Blizzard led a group of women who destroyed the tracks, setting the precedent for Central American Solidarity activists who, in the 1990s, destroyed tracks after a munitions trains ran over and dismembered Brian Willson’s legs.
Saw this via Anita Hoffmann on Bluesky, presenting some new research by Philippa Carter:
"Dr Philippa Carter argues that the types of employment open to women at the time came with a much higher risk of facing allegations of witchcraft, or maleficium."
Today in Labor History September 19, 1952: The United States barred Charlie Chaplin from re-entering the country after a trip to England. In 1947, his black comedy, Monsieur Verdoux, was released. In the film, he criticized capitalism and its reliance on wars and weapons of mass destruction. The FBI launched a formal investigation of him 1947, after public accusations that he was a communist. Chaplin denied the charges, calling himself a “peace monger.” Nevertheless, he protested the HUAC hearings and the U.S. trials of Communist Party members. Representative John Rankin called Chaplin's presence in Hollywood “detrimental to the moral fabric of America.” Writer George Orwell prepared list of people he believed were communists, which he gave to British intelligence before he died in 1949. The list included Chaplin and Michael Redgrave, as well as Paul Robeson, Katherine Hepburn, John Steinbeck and Orson Welles.
Today in Labor History September 19, 1676: Rebels burned Jamestown to the ground during Bacon's Rebellion. This armed insurrection against the rule of Governor William Berkeley was the first class uprising in North America and one of the driving forces for the creation of racial identities. During the uprising, thousands of indentured white Europeans united with free, indentured and enslaved blacks to demand rights and privileges they were being denied. They took up arms and drove Berkeley from Jamestown. The unification of poor blacks and whites scared the hell out of the ruling class. Consequently, they realized they needed to sow divisions between the poor, so they would fight among each other rather than unify in another uprising against the rich. This led to a hardening of the color lines and the development of the ideas of race and racial superiority.
Today in Labor History September 15, 1970: Over 350,000 members of the United Auto Workers went on strike against General Motors. UAW leader Walter Reuther had recently died (or been assassinated) and there was a power vacuum in the UAW leadership. The current leadership knew a strike would build members’ support for and loyalty to the union. They hoped it would unite rank and file factions against a common enemy (GM) and in support of them. Both the UAW leadership and GM management hoped that a strike would whittle down members’ expectations and demands, as hunger and privation set in, allowing them to negotiate a contract more favorable to GM management, while still keeping their members under their control. However, the strategy almost backfired, as rank and file members refused to agree on local issues preventing the UAW from coming to a national agreement with GM and risking them losing control of the strike. To avoid this, the UAW leadership entered into secret talks with GM to settle the dispute, even though few of the local issues had been settled.
Meanwhile, thousands of UAW members walked off the job today in one of the largest autoworker strikes in year, and the first encompassing all the Big 3 automakers at the same time, and in spite of a last minute offer of a 20% raise.
Today in Labor History September 14, 1918: Labor leader and Socialist Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for opposing World War I. During his sentencing he said “. . . while there is a lower-class I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free . . .” While in prison, Debs became the first person to run for U.S. president while behind bars, winning nearly 1 million votes.
Today in Labor History September 12, 1934: National Guards troops were deployed throughout New England to quell textile labor strikes. 1,500 strikers fought state troopers in Connecticut, with other conflicts occurring in Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell and Lewiston. In Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 500 protestors attacked the police with bricks. National Guards fired into the crowd, killing one and wounding many. The governor declared that it was a Communist uprising and not a textile strike and sent in the military.
The Uprising of ’34 spread throughout the eastern seaboard, with 400,000 textile workers joining the strike, the largest textile strike in U.S. history until that point. Over 18 workers were killed and over 160 were injured, mostly in Georgia, and in South Carolina, where the governor issued shoot-to-kill orders against anyone picketing. The strike ended in defeat. The anti-union propaganda by employers, the state, and the media, were particularly effective in the South, where blacklisting of strike participants and continued union-busting kept the mills union-free and lower-wage for years. Many of the Northern mills relocated there to take advantage of the higher profits to be made from the low-wage, union-free shops.
Today in Labor History September 10, 1962: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Civil Rights Leader, James Meredith, could be admitted to the University of Mississippi. White rioters burned cars, pelted federal agents and soldiers with rocks, bricks and shot at them. 31,000 soldiers were sent to quell the violence, the largest ever use of the Insurrection Act of 1807. Two people died. Meredith was harassed throughout his time at the university. He went on to organize the March against Fear from Memphis to Jackson. He also was active in the Voting Rights movement. He went on to become an adviser to the right-wing, segregationist Senator Jesse Helms.
Today in Labor History September 10, 1897: A sheriff and deputies killed 19 striking miners and wounded 40 others in Lattimer mine, near Hazelton, Pennsylvania during a peaceful mining protest. Many of those killed were originally brought in as strikebreakers, but then later organized and joined the strike. The miners were mostly Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak and German. The massacre was a turning point for the UMW. Working and safety conditions were terrible. 32,000 miners had died from 1870-1897, just in the northeastern coalfields of Pennsylvania. Wages had dropped 17% since the mid-1890s.
The strike began in mid-August, when teenage mule drivers walked off the job to protest the consolidation of stables, which had forced them to walk much further just to get to work. After a scuffle between drivers and supervisors, two thousand men walked out, as well. Soon, all the mines in the region had joined the strike. Most of the men who weren’t already members of the UMW quickly joined the union. Up to 10,000 miners were now on strike. The mine owners’ private police, known as the Coal & Iron Police (miners called them Cossacks, for their brutality), was too small to quash the strike, so they called on the sheriff to intervene. He mustered a posse of 100 Irish and English immigrants, who confronted the miners as they marched toward Latimer, on Sep 10. Along the way, they joked about how many miners they were going to kill.
The massacre provoked a near uprising. The sheriff called for the deployment of the National Guard, which sent 2,500 troops to quell the unrest. 10 days later, a group of Slavic women, armed with fire pokers and rolling pins, led 150 men and boys to shut down the McAdoo coal works, but were stopped by the National Guards. The sheriff, and 73 deputized vigilantes, were put on trial. However, despite evidence clearly showing that most of the miners had been shot in the back, and none had been armed, they were all acquitted.
Today in Labor History September 9, 1919: Boston police walked off the job during the strike wave that was spreading across the country. The police had affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, prompting the police commissioner to suspend 19 of them for their organizing efforts, and prompting other cops to go on strike. Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge announced that none of the strikers would be rehired and he called in the state police to crush the strike. However, over half of them showed solidarity and refused to work. Coolidge then mustered the state militia and created an entirely new police force made up of unemployed World War I veterans, and Harvard students. The poorly trained “cops” killed 9 people during the strike. But all the blame was placed on the strikers. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called their strike a crime against civilization. AFL President Samuel Gompers urged the cops, whom he represented, to return to work. The press attacked the striking cops as Bolsheviks. The NY Times wrote: “A policeman has no more right to belong to a union than a soldier or a sailor. He must be ready to obey orders, the orders of his superiors, not those of any outside body. One of his duties is the maintenance of order in the case of strike violence. In such a case, if he is faithful to his union, he may have to be unfaithful to the public, which pays him to protect it.” And ever since, the cops and their “unions” (professional association might be a more appropriate term) have overwhelmingly followed the NYT advice, rarely striking themselves (~25 in the U.S. over the past 100 years) and eagerly attacking other working class people who are on strike.
“In the tradition of Upton Sinclair and Jack London, Michael Dunn gives us a gritty portrait of working-class life and activism during one of the most violent eras in U.S. labor history. Anywhere but Schuylkill is a social novel built out of passion and the textures of historical research. It is both a tale of 1870s labor unrest and a tale for the inequalities and injustices of the twenty-first century.”
-Russ Castronovo, author of Beautiful Democracy and Propaganda 1776.
Available on Sep 19, 2023, from all the usual online distributors, or direct from my publisher: http://wix.to/M9gMx11
Today in Labor History September 6, 1901: Anarchist steelworker Leon Czolgosz assassinated President William McKinley, in the name of workers, in Buffalo, New York. However, many leading anarchists had repudiated him prior to the assassination, accusing him of being a spy or provocateur because of his reclusive and erratic behavior. The authorities quickly arrested Czolgosz and executed him 7 weeks later.
Today in Labor History September 5, 1936: Photographer Robert Capa captured the death of 24-year-old anarchist Federico "Taino" Borrell in the iconic photo The Falling Soldier. Borell was an antifascist fighter, killed during the Spanish Civil War.
My publisher just sent me the formatted ebook copy of my new novel: ANYWHERE BUT SCHUYLKILL!
Just have to correct any errors and then it'll be ready to launch, later this week or next!!
Check my website for details: https://michaeldunnauthor.com/
Order it soon from Historium Press: http://wix.to/M9gMx11
Today in Labor History September 4, 1970: Socialist Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile. As president, he tried to nationalize major industries, expand education and improve conditions for the working class. On September 11, 1973 (the other 9/11), he was ousted in a coup by Augusto Pinochet, leading to a dictatorship that lasted until 1990. Thousands of workers, socialists, union members and activists were killed, including folk singer Victor Jara, who continued to sing, as his torturers mashed his fingers and demanded that he play his guitar. The coup and dictatorship were supported by the CIA, and by President Nixon, and by the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Here's is an interview & rare live footage of Jara singing his classic: El Derecho de Vivir en Paz.
Today in Labor History September 3, 1838: Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland to freedom in the north, where he became a leader of the abolitionist movement. During his lifetime, he wrote 3 autobiographies and became a best-selling author. He also fought for women’s suffrage and was the first black man nominated to run for vice president. Douglass opposed colonialism and segregated schools. He was the most photographed American of the 19th century, never smiling once for the camera so as to not play into the racist myth of the happy slave.
Today in Labor History September 2, 1991: 25 workers were killed by a fire at the nonunion Imperial Foods poultry processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. Bosses had locked the doors in violation of the law, leaving the workers no escape.
Today in Labor History September 2, 1921: The Battle of Blair Mountain ended on this date in 1921, with the U.S. government bombing striking coal miners by plane, the second time the U.S. government used planes to bomb its own citizens (the first was in the Tulsa riots, earlier that year). The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the largest civil uprisings in U.S. history and the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War. The uprising lasted 5 days and involved 10,000-15,000 coal miners confronting an army of scabs and police. The battle came as mine owners tried to crush attempts by coal miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. From the late 1800s, mine owners forced workers to live in company towns, where rent was deducted from their wages and they were paid in scrip, which was accepted only at the overpriced company stores and was worthless everywhere else. The work was very dangerous and safety equipment and precautions were minimal. The mine owners had a long tradition of using private detectives and goons to spy on workers, infiltrate their meetings, rough them up, and block any attempts to unionize. The battle began after Sheriff Sid Hatfield (an ally of the miners and hero from the Battle of Matewan) was assassinated by Baldwin-Felts agents. Much of the region was still under martial law as a result of the Battle of Matewan. Miners began to leave the mountains armed and ready for battle. Mother Jones tried to dissuade them from marching into Logan and Mingo Counties, fearing a bloodbath. Many accused her of losing her nerve. The miners ignored her and a battle ensued between miners and cops, private detectives, scabs and eventually the U.S. military.
OK, so as a feminist and anticapitalist, I obviously have to be critical of the (toxic) genius Walt Disney.
Disney is well known as a union buster. The pays were very unequal and chaotic. Disney promised to pay the animators great bonuses after the release of Snow White, but instead of bonuses, he treated his employees (especially the unionised employees) with layoffs; he even took all ending credits for the movie himself.
It all lead to the great Disney Cartoonist Strike in 1941:
Although little is known about the (un)equal payment of women, it's reasonable to assume that the (mostly female read) cosmeticians, who meticulously applied makeup to each frame with Snow White, were probably less paid than most of the (mostly male) animators who did more or less some same work.
Today in Writing History August 31, 1908: Armenian-American writer William Saroyan was born. He won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1940 and the Academy Award for best screenplay for his story, “The Human Comedy.” Saroyan was born in Fresno, California, but spent several of his early years in an orphanage in Oakland. He was later reunited with family in Fresno. Many of his early stories were about Armenian farm workers, during the Depression, in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Today in Labor History August 30, 1948: Fred Hampton revolutionary activist and chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party was born. He founded the antiracist, anti-class Rainbow Coalition, a prominent multicultural political organization that included Black Panthers, Young Patriots (which organized poor whites), and the Young Lords (which organized Hispanics), and an alliance among major Chicago street gangs to help them end infighting and work for social change. In December 1969, the Chicago police & FBI drugged Hampton, shot him and killed him in his bed during a predawn raid. They sprayed more than 90 gunshots throughout his apartment. They also killed Black Panther Mark Clark and wounded several others. In January 1970, a jury concluded that Hampton's and Clark's deaths were justifiable homicides.
Stephen King refers to Hampton in his novel “11/22/63” (2012). In that book, a character suggests that if you could travel back in time to prevent John F. Kennedy's assassination, it could have a ripple effect that also prevented Hampton's assassination.
Today in Labor History August 29, 1786: Shays' Rebellion began in Massachusetts. It was an armed uprising of farmers and tradesmen in response to a debt crisis among the citizenry and in opposition to the state government's increased efforts to collect taxes both on individuals and their trades. Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays led four thousand rebels (called Shaysites) in a protest against economic and civil rights injustices. They marched on the federal Armory in Springfield an unsuccessful attempt to seize its weaponry and overthrow the government. The Federal Government, still young and weak, was unable to finance sufficient troops to put down the rebellion. Consequently, it was the Massachusetts State Militia that ultimately quashed the uprising, over 5 months later. Despite the duration and violence of the uprising, only 9 people died.
Today in Labor History August 28, 1921: The Soviet Red Army dissolved the stateless Anarchist Free Territory, after driving the Black Army out of Ukraine. The anarchist rebel leader, Nester Makhno, barely escaped, and with serious injuries.
The Free Territory within Ukraine, also known as Makhnovia (after Nestor Makhno), lasted from 1918 to 1921. It was a stateless, anarchist society that was defended by Makhno’s Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army (AKA the Black Army). Roughly 7 million people lived in the area. The peasants who lived there refused to pay rent to the landowners and seized the estates and livestock of the church, state and private landowners, setting up local committees to manage them and share them among the various villages and communes of the Free State.
Michael Moorcock’s “A Nomad of the Time Streams” is a steampunk/alternative history novel where Makhno survives into the 1940s.
Support radical queer labor!
This was a flier we made back in the early '90s, when the janitors at the End Up night club, in San Francisco, organized with the IWW.
The teamsters honored our picket line and refused to deliver booze. So, management rented a U-haul and tried to deliver it themselves. We blocked them for a while, until the cops came and arrested some of us.
But a lot of angry patrons couldn't understand why we were fighting against other queers (i.e., management) and, in their eyes, jeopardizing a queer-safe place. The idea that queer capitalists were exploiting queer workers seemed a radical idea to many people back then. Probably still does to a lot of people. One big happy queer family, right?
Today in Labor History August 27, 1917: The IWW was made illegal in Australia and their membership rolls were given to employers, leading to widespread repression. Despite all this, the IWW helped lead the General Strike of 1917.
Today in Labor History August 27, 1798: An army of 2,000 French troops and United Irishmen, led by Wolfe Tone, routed a combined force of 6,000 British and Protestant loyalist soldiers in the Battle of Castlebar, during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Wolfe Tone’s Society of United Irishmen formed in the wake of the French Revolution in order to win “equal representation in government for all people,” emancipation of Catholics and an independent Ireland. The organization was composed of both Protestants and Catholics who vowed to make common cause in their struggle. They organized primarily among the working class and tenant farmers. The Irish Rebellion lasted from late 5/24/1798-10/12/1798. Up 50,000 Irish rebels and civilians died in the uprising, along with up to 2,000 loyalist troops.
Today in Labor History August 25, 1819: Allan Pinkerton was born. He founded the Pinkerton private police force, whose strike breaking detectives (Pinkertons, or 'Pinks') gave us the word 'fink' as they slaughtered dozens of workers in various labor struggles. Ironically, Pinkerton was a violent, radical leftist as a youth. He fought cops in the streets as a member of the Chartist Movement. He had to flee the UK in order to not be imprisoned and executed. Yet in America, he became the nation’s first super cop. He created the secret service. He foiled an assassination attempt against Lincoln. He fine-tuned the art of spying on activists and planting agents provocateur in their ranks. His agents played a major role in destroying the miners’ union in the 1870s, as portrayed in my novel, “Anywhere But Schuylkill.” Later, they assassinated numerous organizers with the IWW and came within inches of successfully getting Big Bill Hayward convicted on trumped up murder charges.
Anywhere But Schuylkill will be out in early September, 2023, from Historium Press: https://www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/it/michael-dunn
You can read my satirical biography of Pinkerton here: https://marshalllawwriter.com/the-eye-that-never-sleeps/
Today in Labor History August 21, 1920: Ongoing violence by coal operators and their paid goons in the southern coalfields of West Virginia led to a three-hour gun battle between striking miners and guards that left six dead. 500 Federal troops were sent in not only to quell the fighting, but to ensure that scabs were able to get to and from the mines. A General Strike was threatened if the troops did not cease their strikebreaking activities. This was just 3 months after the Matewan Massacre, in which the miners drove out the seemingly invincible Baldwin-Felts private police force, with the help of their ally, Sheriff Sid Hatfield. 1 year later, Sheriff Hatfield was gunned down on the steps of the courthouse by surviving members of the Baldwin-Felts Agency. News spread and miners began arming themselves, leading to the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War and the largest labor uprising in U.S. history. Over 100 people were killed in the 5-day battle, including 3 army soldiers and up to 20 Baldwin-Felts detectives. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested. 1 million rounds were fired. And the government dropped bombs from aircraft on the miners, only the second time in history that the government bombed its own citizens (the first being the pogrom against African American residents of Tulsa, during the so-called Tulsa Riots).
The Battle of Blair Mountain is depicted in Storming Heaven (Denise Giardina, 1987), Blair Mountain (Jonathan Lynn, 2006), and Carla Rising (Topper Sherwood, 2015). And the Matewan Massacre is brilliantly portrayed in John Sayles’s film, “Matewan.”
#WorkingClass #LaborHistory #mining #strike #union #WestVirginia #matewan #BattleOfBlairMountain #uprising #CivilWar #GeneralStrike #tulsa #massacre #racism #books #fiction #film #writer #author #novel @bookstadon
Today in Labor History August 21, 1680: Pueblo Indians captured Santa Fe from the Spanish. The Pueblo Revolt was an uprising against the Spanish colonizers in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. The Pueblos killed 400 Spaniards and drove the remaining 2,000 settlers out of the province. However, the Spaniards reconquered New Mexico 12 years later. One cause of the revolt was the Spaniard’s attempt to destroy the Pueblo religion and ban their traditional dances and kachina dolls.
The Pueblo Revolt has been depicted in numerous fictional accounts, many of which were written by native and Pueblo authors. Clara Natonabah, Nolan Eskeets & Ariel Antone, from the Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Team, wrote and performed "Po'pay" in 2010. In 2005, Native Voices at the Autry produced “Kino and Teresa,” a Pueblo recreation of “Romeo and Juliet,” written by Taos Pueblo playwright James Lujan. La Compañía de Teatro de Albuquerque produced the bilingual play “Casi Hermanos,” written by Ramon Flores and James Lujan, in 1995. Even Star Trek got into the game, with references to the Pueblo Revolt in their "Journey's End" episode. The rebel leader, Po’pay, was depicted in Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the Arch Bishop” and in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
#WorkingClass #LaborHistory #pueblo #revolt #rebellion #uprising #NativeAmerican #genocide #indigenous #NewMexico #books #plays #playwright #fiction #novel #author #writer #StarTrek #AldousHuxley #WillaCather @bookstadon
Today in Labor History August 20, 1619: The first group of 20 African slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia. This marked the beginning of 240 years of legalized chattel slavery for African Americans. However, both chattel slavery and indentured servitude had been common in the 13 colonies since 1526, including for white Europeans. And the concept of race didn’t really take hold until 1676, when free and enslaved blacks and whites united against the ruling class in Bacon’s Rebellion, which also occurred in Jamestown. After putting down the rebellion, nearly a year after it began, the authorities began creating a set of racialized laws, including the Virginia Slave Codes, providing small privileges to lower class whites, and hardening the racial caste system, in a largely successful attempt to prevent further solidarity between the multi-racial lower classes.
Today in Labor History August 19, 1916: Strikebreakers attacked and beat picketing IWW strikers in Everett, Washington. The police refused to intervene, claiming it was federal jurisdiction. However, when the strikers retaliated, they arrested the strikers. Vigilante attacks on IWW picketers and speakers escalated and continued for months. In October, vigilantes forced many of the strikers to run a gauntlet, violently beating them in the process. The brutality culminated in the Everett massacre on November 5, when Wobblies (IWW members) sailed over from Seattle to support the strikers. The sheriff called out to them as they docked, “Who is your leader?” And the Wobblies yelled back, “We all are!” The sheriff told them they couldn’t dock. One of the Wobblies said, “Like hell we can’t!” And then a mob of over 200 vigilantes opened fire on them. As a result, seven died and 50 were wounded. John Dos Passos portrays these events in his USA Trilogy.
Today in Labor History August 16, 1973: A 60-year-old United Farm Workers (UFW) member, Juan de la Cruz, was shot by a strike breaker during the UFW's a second grape boycott, in opposition to the Teamster’s sweetheart deals with the California growers. He died the next day. Another UFW striker, Nagi Daifallah, was killed two days before.
Today in Labor History August 15, 1906: W.E.B. DuBois demanded equal citizenship rights for African-Americans during the second meeting of the Niagara Movement, saying, "We will not be satisfied to take one jot or little less than our full manhood." Founders of the movement named it for the “mighty current” of change they hoped to achieve. DuBois made his famous statement at Harper’s Ferry, sight of the failed insurrection led by John Brown, in 1859. For a wonderful speculative fiction story based on the premise that John Brown had succeeded in his raid, with the help of Harriet Tubman, read Terry Bisson’s “Fire on the Mountain” (1988).
In addition to cofounding the Niagara Movement, DuBois also cofounded the NAACP. He devoted his life to fighting racism, segregation, Jim Crow and lynchings. DuBois opposed capitalism and blamed it for much of the racism in America. He was also a prolific writer, an anti-nuclear and peace activist, and a proponent of Pan-Africanism.
#WorkingClass #LaborHistory #naacp #niagara #WEBDubois #racism #panafricanism #antinuke #antiwar #BlackMastadon #anticapitalist #HarpersFerry #JohnBrown #writer #author #books #fiction #SpeculativeFiction @bookstadon
Today in Labor History August 14, 1850: A squatters' riot occurred in Sacramento, California. At the time, Sacramento was an unincorporated territory. Many people had moved to the region for the gold rush, resulting in land speculation and skyrocketing rents. The squatters vowed to defend their claims by force and created their own militia, consisting of dozens of men. The property owners called in the regional militia, with over 500 men. 2 squatters and 3 militiamen died in the battles, as well as 2 bystanders.
Today in Labor History August 11, 1964: Stuart Christie, a Scottish anarchist, was arrested in Madrid, Spain while attempting to assassinate Francisco Franco. At the time, Christie was 18 years old. He faced execution by garroting, but was, instead, sentenced to 20 years. Franco released him after three years, supposedly because of his mother’s plea for his release. He went on to found Cienfuegos Press, The Free-Winged Eagle and The Hastings Trawler. In 2006, he created the online Anarchist Film Channel.
Today in Labor History August 10, 1923: Italian-American anarchist and IWW organizer Carlo Tresca was arrested in the United States on the charge of publishing anti-fascist literature. Tresca opposed fascism, Stalinism and mafia-infiltration of unions. He was assassinated in 1943. Some believe the Soviets killed him in retaliation for his criticism of Stalin. The most recent research suggests it was the Bonanno crime family, in response to his criticism of the mafia and Mussolini. Tresca wrote two books. His autobiography was published posthumously in 2003. He also wrote a book in Italian, “L'attentato a Mussolini ovvero il segreto di Pulcinella.”
Today in Labor History August 10, 1680: The Pueblo Revolt began in New Mexico. Also known as Popay's Rebellion, the uprising of most of the indigenous Pueblo people against the Spanish colonizers in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, (larger than present-day New Mexico), killed 400 Spaniards and drove the remaining 2,000 settlers out of the province. The Spaniards reconquered New Mexico twelve years later.
Today in Labor History August 4, 1997: A successful 15-day strike was launched by 180,000 against United Parcel Service over excessive reliance on part-time workers. It was the largest U.S. strike 20 years and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
Today in Labor History August 2, 1877: During the Great Upheaval strike wave sweeping the country, workers held a General Strike in Scranton. They attacked the mayor and fought with militiamen. 4 people died. The following year, the people of Scranton elected Terence Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor, as their new mayor.
Coming soon, “Anywhere But Schuylkill,” my historical novel about the Pennsylvania coal wars. The blue image in the background is the painting, “The Breaker Boys,” by George Luks (1925). Luks was associated with the “aggressively realistic” Ashcan School of American painting. He was also from Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, where my novel takes place, and makes a cameo appearance as a child, working in his father’s pharmacy. His father, Emil (Doc) Luks was a physician and pharmacist, and a well-known friend of the miners, often treating them for free or at discounted prices during strikes and economic depressions.
Today in Labor History August 1, 1938: Police opened fire on 200 unarmed trade unionists protesting the unloading of a ship in Hilo Harbor, on the Big Island of Hawaii, in what became known as "the Hilo Massacre." The protest was in support of striking waterfront workers. 50 workers were injured. Police also used tear gas and bayonets. The workers came from numerous ethnic backgrounds, including Japanese, Chinese, Native Hawaiian, Luso (Portuguese) and Filipino. They belonged to several unions, including the ILWU. They were fighting for equal pay to dockers on the U.S. west coast and for a closed, union shop. Harry Kamoku (depicted in the original woodblock poster shown in this post) was the primary organizer and leader of the strike, as well as Hawaii’s first union to be legally recognized. He was a Chinese-Hawaiian, a longshoreman, born in Hilo.