Today in Labor History – July 5th


During a strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company, which had drastically reduced wages, buildings constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago’s Jackson park were set ablaze, reducing seven to ashes – 1894

Two strikers were shot and killed and more than 100 were injured by San Francisco police in what came to be known as “Bloody Thursday,” leading to one of the last General Strikes in U.S. The governor called in the National Guard to suppress the strike. Police and Guard violence led to 43 injuries due to clubbing and gas, and 30 more for bullet wounds. Two chemical companies used the unrest as an opportunity to test and sell their wares. According to the Daily Bleed, Joseph Roush, from Federal Laboratories, shot a long-range tear gas shell at the strikers. He then told his company, “I might mention that during one of the riots, I shot a long-range projectile into a group, a shell hitting one man and causing a fracture of the skull, from which he has since died. As he was a Communist, I have had no feeling in the matter and I am sorry that I did not get more.” – 1934

National Labor Relations Act, providing workers rights to organize and bargain collectively, signed by President Roosevelt – 1935

Rebel Longshoreman, writer and Wobbly Gilbert Mers (1908-1998) died. Mers wrote the book Working the Waterfront: The Ups & Downs of a Rebel Longshoreman in which he exposed the Texas Rangers of the 1930s and 40s as legalized strike-breaking bullies – 1998

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