Today in Labor History – June 17th

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

20 workers were killed and many others were seriously injured in an explosion at the US Arsenal in Washington, D.C.  The workers were girls and young women, mostly Irish immigrants, making ammunition for the Union Army. The funeral procession, which included President Abraham Lincoln, stretched for more than a mile.  A monument was erected in the Congressional Cemetery, where 17 of the workers were buried. – 1864

Susan B. Anthony went on trial in Canandaigua, N.Y. for casting her ballot in a federal election the previous November, in violation of existing statutes barring women from the vote. – 1873

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones led a rally in Philadelphia to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state’s textile mills. Three weeks later, the 73-year-old would go on to lead a march to New York City to plead with President Theodore Roosevelt to help improve conditions for the children. – 1903

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) initiated a sit down strike at the Studebaker auto plant. – 1913

The Steel Workers Organizing Committee was founded in Pittsburgh, by Philip Murray, John L. Lewis, and nine other labor organizers. The Steel Workers Organizing Committee evolved into the United Steelworkers of America. Within one year, more than 125,000 people had joined the union, rallying around the goal of raising wages to $5 per day. – 1936

Nine firefighters were killed and eight more injured when a large section of Boston’s Hotel Vendome collapsed on them. Firefighters were performing cleanup when the collapse occurred, having successfully struck a fire at the luxury hotel earlier in the day. -1972

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