Today in Labor History – June 30th

labor history june 30

Eugene V Debs

The Chicago Streetcar Strike began on this day and continued through July 7 – 1885

Following a series of speeches in which he condemned US involvement in World War I, labor leader Eugene Debs was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio for violating the Espionage Act with the “intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States.” At his trial, Debs said, “I would oppose war if I stood alone.” He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison. – 1918

Alabama outlawed the leasing of convicts to mine coal, a practice that had been in place since 1848. In 1898, 73 percent of the state’s total revenue came from this source. Twenty-five percent of all black leased convicts died. – 1928

The Walsh-Healey Act took effect today. It required companies that supply goods to the government to pay wages according to a schedule set by the Secretary of Labor. – 1936

The storied Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, a union whose roots traced back to the militant Western Federation of Miners, and which helped found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), merged into the United Steelworkers of America. – 1967

Up to 40,000 New York construction workers demonstrated in midtown Manhattan, protesting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s awarding of a $33 million contract to a nonunion company. Eighteen police and three demonstrators were injured. “There were some scattered incidents and some minor violence,” Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the New York Post. “Generally, it was a pretty well-behaved crowd.” – 1998

Nineteen firefighters died when they were overtaken by a wildfire they were battling in a forest northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. It was the deadliest wildfire involving  firefighters in the US in at least 30 years. – 2013

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