Today in Labor History – March 9th

Carlo Tresca

Carlo Tresca

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that freed the remaining 35 survivors of the Amistad mutiny. In 1839, Joseph Cinque led 52 fellow captive Africans in a revolt on the Spanish schooner Amistad. The U.S. Navy captured the ship and President Martin Van Buren wanted to send the prisoners back to Spanish authorities in Cuba to stand trial for mutiny. But the U.S. courts recognized their rights as free citizens. – 1841

Anarchist militant and IWW organizer Carlo Tresca was born on this date. Tresca was an outspoken opponent of Fascism in Germany and Italy and of Soviet Communism. Tresca was murdered by an unknown assailant, presumably by fascists or the Mafia. Tresca was one of the main organizers of the Paterson Silk Strike. – 1879

Actor Will Geer was born on this date in 1902. Best known for his role as Grandpa Walton, Geer also appeared in the groundbreaking film Salt of the Earth, which portrayed the struggle of Mexican American workers at the Empire Zinc Mine. He was blacklisted for his activism on labor and political issues. – 1902

Rail and ship freight workers began a sympathy strike with striking freight handlers and clerks in Boston who had walked out over their co-workers being fired for refusing to handle freight by a company using scab labor to replace union freight drivers. Within three days, 20,000 freight workers were on strike in the city and the dispute was quickly settled. – 1902

Frank Little and other IWW (Wobblies) free-speech fighters were released from jail in Fresno, California. Little was later murdered by mine owners in Montana. – 1911

The Westmoreland County (Pennsylvania) Coal Strike began on this date and continued for nearly 16 months before ending in defeat. It was known as the “Slovak strike” because some 70 percent of the 15,000 strikers were Slovakian immigrants.Sixteen miners and family members were killed during the strike. – 1912

An overflow crowd of Twin Cities residents attended a showing of The Blacklist, a film depicting the massacre of miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado, that had occurred five years before. – 1919

Work began on the $8 billion, 800-mile-long Alaska Oil pipeline connecting oil fields in northern Alaska to the sea port at Valdez. Tens of thousands of people worked on the pipeline, enduring long hours, cold temperatures, and brutal conditions. At least 32 died on the job. – 1974

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