Friday, September 2, 2011

Today in Labor History—September 2

September 2, 1872 – 1,200 workers struck the Cavite shipyards and arsenal in the Philippines — the first recorded strike in the nation's history. (From the Daily Bleed)
September 2, 1917 – Wobblies, (members of the Industrial Workers of the World) were mass arrested on orders of Attorney General Palmer. (From the Daily Bleed)
Sheriffs Getting Ready to Attack Miners During the Battle of Blair Mountain
One of the Bombs Dropped on Striking Miners
September 2, 1921 – The Battle of Blair Mountain ended on this date in 1921, with the U.S. government bombing striking coal miners by plane, the first time the U.S. government used planes to bomb its own citizens. The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the largest civil uprisings in U.S. history and the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War. The uprising lasted 5 days and involved 10,000-15,000 coal miners confronting an army of scabs and police. The battle came as mine owners tried to crush attempts by coal miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. From the late 1800s, mine owners forced workers to live in company towns, where rent was deducted from their wages and they were paid in scrip, which was accepted only at the overpriced company stores and was worthless everywhere else. The work was very dangerous and safety equipment and precautions were minimal. The mine owners had a long tradition of using private detectives and goons to spy on workers, infiltrate their meetings, rough them up, and block any attempts to unionize. The battle began after Sheriff Sid Hatfield (an ally of the miners and hero from the Battle of Matewan) was assassinated by Baldwin-Felts agents. Much of the region was still under martial law as a result of the Battle of Matewan. Miners began to leave the mountains armed and ready for battle. Mother Jones tried to dissuade them from marching into Logan and Mingo Counties, fearing a bloodbath. Many accused her of losing her nerve. The miners ignored her and a battle ensued between miners and cops, private detectives, scabs and eventually the U.S. military. (From Workday Minnesota, Wikipedia and the Daily Bleed)

September 1936-May 1937 – There were 477 sit-down strikes, involving 500,000 American workers, between September 1936 and May 1937. (From the Daily Bleed)

September 2, 1936 – The Macbeth Mine exploded killing 10 workers at the Hutchinson Coal Company mine in Logan County, West Virginia (See Battle of Blair Mountain, above). Six months later it exploded again, on March 11, killing 18 more. (From the Daily Bleed)

September 2, 1945 -- Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam independent from France. (From the Daily Bleed)

September 2, 1956 – National Guardsmen were dispatched to Clinton, Tennessee after a series of violent demonstrations made it impossible to carry out desegregation. (From the Daily Bleed)

September 2, 1963 – Alabama governor George C. Wallace blocked the integration of Tuskegee High School in Huntsville, Alabama, by encircling the building with state troopers. Eight days later, President John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard, forcing Wallace to abandon his efforts to block the desegregation. (From the Daily Bleed)

Sep 2, 1974 – The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted, setting minimum standards for most private-sector pension and health plans. (From Shmoop Labor History Calendar)

Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster: Mojo Nixon and Jello Biafra

September 2, 1991 - Twenty-five workers were killed by a fire at the nonunion Imperial Foods poultry processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. Bosses had locked and blocked the doors in violation of the law, leaving the workers no escape. (From Workday Minnesota)

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