Today in Labor History – September 30th


29 strike leaders are charged with treason – plotting “to incite insurrection, rebellion & war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” – for daring to strike the Carnegie Steel Co. in Homestead, Pa. Jurors refuse to convict them – 1892

Seventy-year-old Mother Jones organizes the wives of striking miners in Arnot, Pa., to descend on the mine with brooms, mops and clanging pots and pans. They frighten away the mules and their scab drivers. The miners eventually won their strike – 1899

Railroad shopmen in 28 cities strike the Illinois Central Railroad and the Harriman lines for an 8 hour day, improved conditions and union recognition, but railroad officials obtain sweeping injunctions against them and rely on police and armed guards to protect strikebreakers – 1915

The Elaine Race Riots – Black farmers meet in Elaine, Ark. to establish the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices. They are shot at by a group of whites, and return the fire. News of the confrontation spread and a riot ensued, leaving at least 100, perhaps several hundred blacks dead and 67 indicted for inciting violence – 1919

Cesar Chavez, with Delores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America – 1962


The “Elaine Riot” killed 4 whites and well over 100 blacks. The defendants above were sentenced to die in trials lasting as little as an hour.

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Blood in Their Eyes: The Elaine Race Massacres of 1919

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