Today in Labor History – January 10th

labor history january 10

The Pemberton Mill suddenly collapsed in Lawrence, Massachusetts, trapping 900 workers, mostly Irish women. The mill then caught fire, seriously injuring 116 women and killing 88. The fire inquest revealed inferior construction that was too weak to support the brick walls and heavy machinery. The engineer in charge of construction, Captain Charles Bigelow, was aware of this, but was still acquitted of criminal intent. – 1860

Wobbly organizer and singer Joe Hill allegedly killed two men during a grocery store hold-up in Utah. He ultimately was shot for the crime despite much speculation that he was framed. – 1914

Former AFL-CIO President George Meany died on this date at age 85. The one-time plumber led the labor federation from the time of the AFL and CIO merger in 1955 until shortly before his death. – 1980

The Supreme Court let stand the implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement. – 2004

Disaster in Lawrence: The Fall of the Pemberton Mill

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