Today in Labor History – May 7th

labor history may 7

Bloody Tuesday – San Francisco

The Knights of St. Crispin union was formed at a secret meeting in Milwaukee. It grew to 50,000 members before being crushed by employers later that year. – 1867

Bloody Tuesday occurred in San Francisco. The Street Carmen were among the most militant workers in San Francisco, a city that had one of the most organized and militant labor movements in the country in those days. The mayor, Eugene Schmitz, and two city supervisors were from the Union Labor Party. San Francisco workers, particularly the Carmen’s union, had struck in five of the six years from 1902 to 1907. Capitalists were starting to get sick of the power of the San Francisco unions and wanted to put a stop to them once and for all. Led by Rudolph Spreckels (the sugar magnate), they hired the Burns Detective agency and started by exposing Schmitz’ corruption as well as that of the Board of Supervisors. The corruption scandals dealt a serious blow to the unions’ political power, as their allies were up to their necks in legal troubles.  The violence occurred when strikebreakers tried to run the streetcars, resulting in an exchange of gunfire between union carmen and scabs where two died and 20 were injured.  Over the course of the strike, two dozen people died in accidents on the system while it was run by scab labor and an estimated 900+ others were injured. – 1907

The Hotel Workers Industrial Union struck New York City’s finest hotels and restaurants, including the Waldorf and Astoria hotels and the Plaza. – 1912

Philadelphia’s longest transit strike ended after 44 days. A key issue in the fight was the hiring and use of part-timers. – 1977

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