Today in Labor History – August 11th

Labor Union August 11th

Federal troop drove over 1,200 jobless workers from the nation’s capital. Led by unemployed activist Charles “Hobo” Kelley and Jacob Coxey, they camped in Washington D.C. starting in July. Kelley’s Hobo Army included a young journalist named Jack London and a young miner-cowboy named Big Bill Haywood. Frank Baun was an observer of the protest and some say it influenced his Wizard of Oz, with the Scarecrow representing the American farmer, the Tin Man representing industrial workers and the Cowardly Lion representing William Jenning Bryan, all marching on Washington (Oz) to demand redress from the president (the Wizard). 650 miners, led by a “General” Hogan, captured a Northern Pacific train at Butte, Montana, en route to the protest. The Feds caught up with them in Billings, forcing a surrender.  A few eventually made it to Washington. – 1894

One hundred “platform men” employed by the privately owned United Railroads streetcar service in San Francisco abandoned their streetcars, tying up many of the main lines in and out of the city center. – 1917

Andrew Carnegie, the richest and most successful late-19th century capitalist, died on this day in New York (and Good Riddance!). Andrew Carnegie was a notorious union-buster and slave-driver and was infamous for his role in crushing the Homestead strike of 1892. Carnegie mills produced one-quarter of the nation’s steel by the earlier 20th century, and his annual profits were $25 million. – 1919

The International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union received a Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) charter. – 1937

Maine lobster fishers formed a local of the Machinists Union as they face a 40-year low price for their catches and other issues. By October, the New York Times had reported it had 600 members, 240 of them dues-payers. – 2013

Coxey’s Crusade for Jobs: Unemployment in the Gilded Age

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