Today in Labor History – August 13th

Labor History August 13th

Striking miners at Tracy City, Tennessee, captured their mines and freed 300 state convict strikebreakers. The convicts had been “leased” to mine owners by officials in an effort to make prisons self-supporting and make a few bucks for the state. The practice started in 1866 and lasted for 30 years. By 1889, the Tennessee Corrections Institute contracted, or subcontracted out 60 percent of all of Tennessee’s prison population for over $100,000 a year. – 1892

Carlos Cortez, Chicano Wobbly, was born on this day. Cortez was a poet, graphic artist, photographer, muralist and political activist, active for six decades in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1923, the son of a Mexican-Indian Wobby union organizer father and a German socialist pacifist mother, Cortez spent 18 months in a U.S. prison as conscientious objector during World War II, refusing to “shoot at fellow draftees”. – 1923

Newspaper writers employed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer went on strike. The strikers were members of the fledgling American Newspaper Guild led by the nationally famous journalist Heywood Broun. The strike protested arbitrary dismissals and assignment changes and other “efficiency” moves by the newspaper. It got the support and solidarity of other unions and was one of the first significant and successful strikes by white collar workers in the United States. – 1936

Civil rights leader and union president A. Philip Randolph strongly protested the AFL-CIO Executive Council’s failure to endorse the August 28 “March on Washington”. – 1963

Five construction workers were killed and 16 were injured when the uncompleted roof of the Rosemont (Illinois) Horizon arena collapsed. – 1979

Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (Haymarket Series)

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