Today in Labor History – June 7th

The Colorado state militia was sent to Cripple Creek (again) to suppress a Western Federation of Miners (WFM) strike. A brutal strike occurred in Cripple Creek in 1894, the only time a state militia was called out in support of striking workers. There had been numerous firefights between striking workers and the mine owners’ private security forces, including the use of dynamite. The private cops had been terrorizing union members, their families and even local residents unaffiliated with the mines. The WFM won that strike, but it was short-lived. The mine owners went on the offensive, particularly in 1903-1904, a period known as the Colorado Labor Wars. During this period, private detectives, goons, vigilantes, state militias and national guards were all used by the mine owners to attack the miners. On June 6, 1904, there was an explosion at the Independence mine that killed several nonunion miners. The Citizen’s Alliance brought in the National Guard, who on June 7 shot into the WFM’s union hall. The Citizen’s Alliance also set up kangaroo courts and convicted and deported nearly 240 miners who refused to renounce their union memberships. The Cripple Creek strike officially ended in December 1907. However, the WFM’s struggle in Colorado helped inspire the creation of the even more radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1905. One of the leaders of the WFM and Cripple Creek struggle, Big Bill Haywood, was also a founding member of the IWW. – 1904

A sole performance of Pageant of the Paterson (NJ) Strike occurred today, created and performed by 1,000 mill workers from the silk industry strike, New York City. – 1913

Striking textile workers battled police in Gastonia, North Carolina. Police Chief O.F. Aderholt was accidentally killed by one of his own officers. Six strike leaders were convicted of “conspiracy to murder” and were sentenced to jail for from 5 to 20 years. – 1929

The Steel Workers Organizing Committee, later to become the United Steelworkers of America, was formed in Pittsburgh. – 1936

This day marked the founding convention of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The merger brought together the Retail Clerks International Union and the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America. – 1979

The United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club announced the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of “Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World”. – 2006

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