Today in Labor History – February 7th

The Imperial Sugar Co.

Imperial Sugar refinery

Union miners in Cripple Creek, Colorado began what was to become a five-month strike. It started when mine owners cut wages to $2.50 a day, from $3. The state militia was called out in support of the strikers, the only time in U.S. history that a militia was directed to side with the workers. The strike ended in victory for the union. – 1894

It took 1,231 firefighters 30 hours to put down The Great Baltimore Fire, which started on this day and destroyed 1,500 buildings over an area of some 140 acres. – 1904

A county sheriff and his deputies on the “Bull Moose Special” (an armored train fitted with machine guns) attacked a miners’ tent colony at Holly Grove in West Virginia. – 1913

Labor organizer Tom Mooney was convicted and sentenced to hang on May 17 after being falsely accused of being responsible for San Francisco’s Preparedness Day bombing. – 1917

Hockey players formed the NHL Players Association in New York City after owners refused to release pension plan financial information. The union was busted when owners transferred key activists, but it successfully re-formed ten years later. – 1957

A huge explosion and fire occurred at the Imperial Sugar refinery northwest of Savannah, Georgia, causing 14 deaths and injuring 38 others. The explosion was fueled by massive accumulations of combustible sugar dust throughout the packaging building. An investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stated that the explosion had been “entirely preventable”, noting that the sugar industry had been aware of the risk of dust explosions since 1926. – 2008

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