Friday, January 4, 2013

Labor History Timeline--Insurrection, Palmer Raids and WWI

1918    Ginger Goodwin Assassination: A hired private policeman shot United Mine Workers Organizer Ginger Goodwin outside Cumberland, B.C. (Source: AFGE)

1919    Fannie Sellins Assassination: Company guards gunned down United Mine Worker organizer Fannie Sellins in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. (Source: AFGE)
Chaos during Boston police strike and riot
1919    Boston Police Strike and Riot: On September 19, looting, rioting, and sporadic violence broke out in downtown and South Boston after 1,117 policemen declared a work stoppage. Governor Calvin Coolidge brought in the entire state militia to put down the strike. (Source: AFGEWikipedia)

1919    The Great Steel Strike: nearly 400,000 steelworkers went on strike for union recognition on September 22, ultimately failing. Martial law was declared in Gary, IN. Troops were called to several cities. (Sources:

1919    Centralia MassacreLegionnaires attacked a Centralia, Washington IWW hall and then lynched IWW organizer Wesley Everest. (Sources: AFGEWikipediaIWW)
Newspaper clipping during Seattle General Strike
1919    Seattle General Strike: After two years of frozen wages due to the war, over 65,000 workers went on strike in Seattle for higher wages, joined by members of both the AFL and the IWW. The strike was a virtual commune, with the General Strike Committee taking over most governmental functions, including providing food and security. Mayor Hanson brought the strike to an end by threatening violence with soldiers, cops and several thousand deputized UW students. (Sources: WikipediaSeattle General Strike ProjectSeattle TimesLib com)

1919    Red Scare BeginsApproximately 250 "anarchists," "communists," and "labor agitators" were deported to Russia, marking the beginning of the so-called "Red Scare," or “Palmer Raids.” Woodrow Wilson's Attorney General,  A. Mitchell Palmer, ultimately arrested nearly 6,000 people on suspicion of "communism." Those who were not U.S. citizens were deported as "undesirable aliens." (Sources: AFGEWorkday Minnesota,Daily Bleed)

1920    Anaconda Road Massacre: On April, 21, Anaconda Copper company guards in Butte, Montana opened fire on striking IWW miners, killing 1 and injuring 16 others. (Sources: Wikipedia)

1920    Matewan Battle: 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. Miners were typically forced to live in company towns 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. (From Workday MinnesotaWikipedia,Daily BleedModern School and

1920    Alabama Coal Strike: This was a statewide strike by the United Mine Workers that was marred by racial violence and ended in defeat for the union. UMW was already integrated by this time, which was offensive both to white racists, and black assimilationists. Several people were killed during the strike, most of whom were black workers. (Sources: Wikipedia)
Miners with bomb that had been dropped on them 
1921    Battle of Blair Mountain: Sheriff Sid Hatfield and Ed Chambers were murdered by Baldwin-Feltz private cops for their role in the Matewan labor battle in 1920, when two Feltz family thugs were killed by Hatfield and his deputies. They were executed on the Welch County court house steps in front of their wives, leading to the Battle of Blair Mountain, where 20,000 coal miners marched to the anti-union stronghold Logan County to overthrow Sheriff Dan Chaffin, the coal company tyrant who murdered miners with impunity. The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War and the first time that American citizens were aerially bombarded by their own government. (Sources: the Daily Bleed, Wikipedia,Workday Minnesota)

1922    The Herrin Massacre (June 22): striking coal miners killed 20 guards and strikebreakers in Herrin, Illinois in retaliation for the murder of three of their own. (Source: AFGEWikipedia)
A. Phillip Randolph, 1946
1925    The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, founded by A. Phillip Randolph and others, was the nation's first African American union. The AFL, which proclaimed support for Randolph's efforts, historically excluded African Americans from its membership. (Source: AFGE)

1927    Columbine Massacre: 6 unarmed mine workers were machine-gunned down in Serene, Colorado, either by police or company guards, during a weeks-long strike at the Columbine Mine. (Sources: Wikipedia)

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