Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
October 18—IWW Colorado Mine strike; first time all coal fields are out – 1927
(Breaker: A Boy’s Story of the 1902 Pennsylvania Coal Strike is the story of the 1902 Pennsylvania coal miners’ strike seen through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Pat McFarlane. Pat lives in Scatter Patch, a small town of immigrants and poor, working-class citizens ruled by the anthracite mine and run by a rich and aloof boss. (“They don’t suffer,” said mine owner George Baer during the 1902 strike. “They don’t even speak English.” Real quote, not fiction!) When his father is killed in a massive cave-in, Pat must go to work as a breaker boy. He learns a lot about labor, life and the value of unity.)
October 19—The J.P. Stevens textile company is forced to sign its first union contract after a 17-year struggle in North Carolina and other southern states – 1980
October 20—Eugene V. Debs, U.S. labor leader and socialist, dies in Elmhurst, Ill. Among his radical ideas: an 8-hour workday, pensions, workman’s compensation, sick leave and social security. He ran for president from a jail cell in 1920 and got a million votes – 1926
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Labor Video: A Fading Art
The trailer for a sweet film about a wonderful, fading craft: signpainting. Some of the independent characters who practice the art are unforgettable; in a more appreciative society, many of them would see their work hanging in art galleries. Click here to watch the video.