Today in Labor History – November 2nd


The I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) free-speech fight in Spokane, Washington began on this date. Local organizer James P. Thompson was yanked from the speaker’s platform by the police. Other Wobblies swarmed to take his place, leading to the arrests of 150 men and women. The IWW union hall was also raided. . – 1909

Labor leader Eugene V. Debs received nearly 1 million votes for president – while running from a prison cell. He had been jailed for opposing World War I. – 1920

Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” first appeared on the charts, going on to become one of the biggest selling singles of its time. The lyrics struck a sympathetic chord with millions of people “Another day older and deeper in debt, St. Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store…” – 1955

President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., to be observed on the third Monday of January – 1983

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