Today in Labor History: September 30
A total of 29 strike leaders are charged with treason—plotting “to incite insurrection, rebellion & war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”—for daring to strike the Carnegie Steel Co. in Homestead, Pa. Jurors refuse to convict them – 1892
Seventy-year-old Mother Jones organizes the wives of striking miners in Arnot, Pa., to descend on the mine with brooms, mops and clanging pots and pans. They frighten away the mules and their scab drivers. The miners eventually won their strike – 1899
(Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America: Her rallying cry was famous: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” A century ago, Mother Jones was a celebrated organizer and agitator, the very soul of the modern American labor movement. At coal strikes, steel strikes, railroad, textile, and brewery strikes, Mother Jones was always there, stirring the workers to action and enraging the powerful. In this first biography of “the most dangerous woman in America,” Elliott J. Gorn proves why, in the words of Eugene V. Debs, Mother Jones “has won her way into the hearts of the nation’s toilers, and… will be lovingly remembered by their children and their children’s children forever.”)
Railroad shopmen in 28 cities strike the Illinois Central Railroad and the Harriman lines for an 8-hour day, improved conditions and union recognition, but railroad officials obtain sweeping injunctions against them and rely on police and armed guards to protect strikebreakers – 1915
Black farmers meet in Elaine, Ark., to establish the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices. They are shot at by a group of whites, and return the fire. News of the confrontation spread and a riot ensued, leaving at least 100, perhaps several hundred, blacks dead and 67 indicted for inciting violence – 1919
Cesar Chavez, with Delores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America – 1962
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