Today in Labor History – April 3rd

Gathering at the Botto House
Gathering at the Botto House

Pietro Botto, the socialist mayor of Haledon, New Jersey invited the Paterson silk mill strikers to assemble in front of his house. 20,000 showed up to hear speakers from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Upton Sinclair, John Reed and others, who urged them to remain strong in their fight.  The Paterson strike lasted from February 1 until July 28, 1913. Workers were fighting for the eight-hour workday and better working conditions. Over 1,800 workers were arrested during the strike, including IWWleaders Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Five were killed. Overall, the strike was poorly organized and confined to Paterson. The IWW, the main organizer of the strike, eventually gave up. – 1913

Sailors, escorted by police, destroyed the IWW building in Kansas City after the U.S. declared war. The action inspired similar attacks in Detroit, Duluth and other towns that had a large IWW presence. – 1917

Martin Luther King Jr. returned to Memphis to stand with striking AFSCME sanitation workers. That evening, he delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in a church packed with union members and others. He was assassinated the following day. – 1968

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