Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition

November 11
Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally – 1887

A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged: local officials listed his death as a suicide – 1919

A total of 57 crewmen on three freighters die over a 3-day period when their ships sink during a huge storm over Lake Michigan – 1940

November 12
Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants – 1954
(Mobilizing Against Inequality: Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.)

“Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers—half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars – 1996

November 13
A total of 259 miners died in the underground Cherry Mine fire. As a result of the disaster, Illinois established stricter safety regulations and in 1911, the basis for the state’s Workers Compensation Act was passed – 1909

A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia in Butte, Mont. – 1914

The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, N.J. Thirteen workers died over its 7-year-long construction – 1927

GM workers’ post-war strike for higher wages closes 96 plants – 1945

Striking typesetters at the Green Bay, Wisc., Press Gazette start a competing newspaper, The Green Bay Daily News. With financial support from a local businessman who hated the Press Gazette, the union ran the paper for four years before their angel died and it was sold to another publisher. The Gannett chain ultimately bought the paper, only to fold it in 2005 – 1972

Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union activist Karen Silkwood is killed in a suspicious car crash on her way to deliver documents to a newspaper reporter during a safety investigation of her Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma – 1974
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