Friday, May 18, 2012

Today in Labor History—May 18

Tupac Amaru
May 18, 1781 – Tupac Amaru II, and other Peruvian indigenous leaders, who rebelled against the Spanish conquistadors, was drawn and quartered in Plaza Mayor del Cuzco. (From the Daily Bleed)

Bakunin speaking at IWA, 1869
May 18, 1814 –Russian Anarchist militant and philosopher Mikhail Bakunin was born.  (From the Daily Bleed)

May 18, 1872 – Philosopher, mathematician & social critic Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was born in Wales. Russell won the Nobel prize for literature in 1950. He was imprisoned as a pacifist during WWI, and again in 1961, for protesting in Whitehall. (From the Daily Bleed)

May 18, 1895
– Augusto Sandino, leader of the original Sandinista movement for  Nicaraguan independence was born. (From the Daily Bleed)

May 18, 1917 - The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen started organizing in packinghouses across the United States, ultimately bringing their membership from 6,500 in 1917 to 100,000 by 1919. (From Workday Minnesota)

May 18, 1920 - Ten people were killed when coal company officials in Matewan, West Virginia, tried to remove striking union workers from coal company housing. They sent in agents from the Baldwin-Felts detective agency who evicted several families before trying to hop on a train out of town. Sheriff Hatfield, who supported the miners’ right to organize, tried to arrest the detectives who, in turn, tried to arrest Hatfield. Unbeknownst to the detectives, they had been surrounded by miners. No one knows who shot first, but when the smoke had cleared, there were 7 dead detectives (including Albert and Lee Felts) and 4 dead townspeople. The episode became known as the “Matewan Battle” or “Matewan Massacre,” and is depicted in John Sayles’ film Matewan. It should be pointed out that mining was one of the most dangerous and corrupt industries around. Miners were typically forced to live in company town and purchase living necessities from company stores at inflated prices. They were paid in scrip, which was useless outside of the company towns. In the time leading up to the Battle of Matewan, numerous miners had been assassinated by vigilantes, goons or detectives. In the aftermath of the massacre, the miners went on strike and were treated to even more violence. Striking miners were beaten and left to die in the streets. The remaining Felts brother, Tom, instigated a vendetta against Sheriff Hatfield, eventually having him killed by his agency in 1921. (From Workday Minnesota, Wikipedia, Daily Bleed and

May 18, 1927 –Possibly the first U.S. school massacre occurred. Andrew Kehoe was seeking revenge against the community for taxes imposed on his farm to pay for a new school, set off a TNT bomb in the school in Bath, Michigan, killing 43 people, including 39 grade-school children. He then killed his wife, himself & the school superintendent. (From the Daily Bleed)

May 18, 1968 – 10,000 marched in Madrid, Spain, erected barricades and clashed with police, in solidarity with the May revolt in France (and in spite of the fact they are still living under a fascist dictatorship). (From the Daily Bleed)

May 18, 1979 – Silkwood vs. Kerr-McGee case was settled, establishing that corporations are responsible for the people they irradiate. (From the Daily Bleed)

May 18, 1991 – 200,000 violently protest against South Korean government. (From the Daily Bleed)

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