Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today in Labor History—May 9

John Brown, c1856
May 9, 1800 – John Brown, anti-slavery freedom fighter, was born, Torrington, Connecticut. (From the Daily Bleed)

May 9, 1892 – A coal mine exploded at Roslyn, Washington, killing 45 mine workers. (From the Daily Bleed)

1900 – Striking tram workers blew up a tramcar during riots in St. Louis. (From the Daily Bleed)

1918 – Bolshevik troops opened fire on workers protesting food shortages in the town of Kolpino. (From the Daily Bleed)

1934 –Longshoremen began a strike for a union hiring hall and union recognition, ultimately leading to the San Francisco general strike. After World War One, West Coast long shore workers were poorly organized or represented by company unions. The IWW had tried to organize them and had some successes, like in San Pedro, in 1922, but they were ultimately crushed by injunctions, imprisonment, deportation and vigilante violence. While longshoremen lacked a well-organized union, they retained a syndicalist sentiment and militancy. Many Wobblies were still working the docks. On May 9, 1934, longshoremen walked off the job at ports up and down the West Coast, soon to be followed by sailors. Strikers were shot by the bosses’ goons in San Pedro. There was also violence in Oakland and San Francisco. Street battles between the cops and strikers continued in San Francisco, heating up on July 3, and culminating in Bloody Thursday, on July 5, when 3 workers were shot by police (two of them died). The attack led to a four-day general strike that effectively shut down commerce in San Francisco, despite police violence and attempts to weaken it by national unions. (From the Daily Bleed, Workday Minnesota and Wikipedia)

May 9, 1970 – Labor leader Walter Reuther and his wife May died suspiciously in an airplane crash. Repeated attempts had been made on Reuther’s live going back to 1938. (From the Daily Bleed)

May 9, 1972 – A general strike began in Quebec in protest of the jailing of three labor leaders, Louis Laberge, Marcel Pepin, Yvon Charbonneau. (From the Daily Bleed)

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