Today in Labor History: June 17
Twenty-one young women and girls making cartridges at the Washington, D.C. arsenal during the Civil War are killed in an accidental explosion. Most of the victims were Irish immigrants – 1864
Susan B. Anthony goes on trial in Canandaigua, N.Y., for casting her ballot in a federal election the previous November, in violation of existing statutes barring women from the vote – 1873
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
(The Autobiography of Mother Jones: Mary Harris Jones—“Mother Jones”—was the most dynamic woman ever to grace the American labor movement. Employers and politicians around the turn of the century called her “the most dangerous woman in America” and rebellious working men and women loved her as they never loved anyone else.)
Twelve trade unionists meet in Pittsburgh to launch a drive to organize all steelworkers. It was the birth of the United Steelworkers of America (then called the Steel Workers Organizing Committee). By the end of the year 125,000 workers joined the union in support of its $5-a-day wage demand – 1936
Nine firefighters are killed, eight more injured when a large section of Boston’s Hotel Vendom collapses on them. The firefighters were performing cleanup when the collapse occurred, having successfully struck a fire at the luxury hotel earlier in the day – 1972
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