Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today in Labor History—July 5

July 5, 1888 – Three women were fired from the Bryant & May factory in East London for exposing the appalling working conditions there. The other 672 women laborers come out in solidarity leading to the “Match Girls' Strike” which was unsuccessful as a strike, but highly effective at generating solidarity and galvanizing the working class movement. (From the Daily Bleed)

 July 5, 1894 –Federal government and troops interfered with a peaceful labor strike, led by Eugene Debs, against the Pullman Palace Car Company, which had cut wages. Federal troops killed 34 American Railway Union members in the Chicago area. Debs and others were imprisoned for violating injunctions. (From the Daily Bleed)

July 5, 1934 - Two strikers were shot and killed and more than 100 were injured by San Francisco police in what came to be known as "Bloody Thursday," leading to one of the last General Strikes in U.S. The governor called in the National Guard to suppress the strike. Police and Guard violence led to 43 injuries due to clubbing and gas, and 30 more for bullet wounds. Two chemical companies used the unrest as an opportunity to test and sell their wares. According to the Daily Bleed, Joseph Roush, from Federal Laboratories, shot a long-range tear gas shell at the strikers. He then told his company, "I might mention that during one of the riots, I shot a long-range projectile into a group, a shell hitting one man and causing a fracture of the skull, from which he has since died. As he was a Communist, I have had no feeling in the matter and I am sorry that I did not get more."  (From the Daily Bleed and Workday Minnesota)

July 5, 1998 – Rebel Longshoreman, writer and Wobbly Gilbert Mers (1908-1998) died. Mers wrote the book Working the Waterfront: The Ups & Downs of a Rebel Longshoreman in which he exposed the Texas Rangers of the 1930s and 40s as legalized strike-breaking bullies.
(From the Daily Bleed)

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