Today in Labor History August 1st

Labor History August 1st

After organizing a strike of metal miners against the Anaconda Company, Wobbly organizer Frank Little was dragged from his boarding house room by six masked men. He was beaten and taken to the edge of town where he was lynched and hanged from a railroad trestle. A note with the words “First and last warning” was pinned to his thigh, referring to earlier vigilantes giving people three warnings to stop objectionable actions. The note also included the number 3-7-77 (a sign of vigilantes active in the 19th century in Virginia City, Montana that some people thought referred to grave measurements), and the initials of other union leaders, suggesting they were next to be killed. An estimated 10,000 workers lined the route of his funeral procession, which was followed by 3,500 more persons. He was buried in Butte’s Mountain View Cemetery. His grave marker reads “Slain by capitalist interests for organizing and inspiring his fellow men”. Years later writer Dashiell Hammett would recall his early days as a Pinkerton detective agency operative and recount how a mine company representative offered him $5,000 to kill Little. He says he quit the agency that night. – 1917

Sheriff Sid Hatfield and Ed Chambers were murdered by Baldwin-Feltz private cops for their part in the Matewan Battle in 1920, when two Feltz family thugs were killed by Hatfield and his deputies. They were executed in Welch WV., on the steps of the McDowell County courthouse, in front of their wives. This led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, where 20,000 coal miners marched to the anti-union stronghold of Logan County to overthrow Sheriff Dan Chaffin, the coal company tyrant who murdered miners with impunity. – 1921

Seventy Police officers in Hilo, Hawaii attempted to disband 200 unarmed protesters supporting the striking Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. In their attempts to disband the crowd, officers tear gassed, hosed and finally fired their riot guns, leading to 50 injuries. – 1938

The American Federation of Musicians began a strike against the major American recording companies in a fight over royalty payments.  Decca Records settled with the union after one year, followed shortly by Capitol Records, while Victor and Columbia Records held out for another year before agreeing to the union’s terms.  The strike did not affect musicians performing on live radio shows or in concerts. – 1942

A 17-day, company-instigated wildcat strike (a strike without union authorization) in Philadelphia tried to bar eight African-American trolley operators from working. Transport Workers Union members stayed on the job in support of the men. – 1944

The Government & Civic Employees Organizing Committee merged into State, County & Municipal Employees. – 1956

The Window Glass Cutters League of America merged with the Glass Bottle Blowers – 1975

A ten-month strike against Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel won an agreement guaranteeing defined-benefit pensions for 4,500 Steelworkers. – 1997

The California School Employees Association affiliated with AFL-CIO. – 2001

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