Today in Labor History – July 12th

Deportation at Bisbee, Arizona
Deportation at Bisbee, Arizona

Members of the shoemakers’ union went on trial in New York City for striking to win a raise. They were fined $1 each. – 1810

Oscar W. Neebe, founder of the Beer Wagon Drivers Union (later the Teamsters Union) was born. Neebe was one of Haymarket martyrs, executed for his “role in the Haymarket bombing”, despite the fact that he was not in Haymarket Square at the time. – 1850

The state militia moved in to break a 12-day strike against Carnegie Steel in Homestead, Pennsylvania. The guardsmen were there primarily to protect scabs and remained in Homestead until October.  Strikers were protesting wage cuts of 18-26% and suffered seven deaths in attacks on them by Pinkerton (“Pinks”) detectives. On July 23, Alexander Berkman, anarchist friend of Emma Goldman, tried to kill Henry Clay Frick, chairman of the board at Carnegie, in an attentat (propaganda by the deed), an action many anarchists of the day believed would inspire the working class to rise up in revolt against the ruling class. – 1892

Today was the final day of the vigilante deportation of striking mine workers at Bisbee, Arizona. The company illegally kidnapped and deported about 1300 strike mine workers, their supporters, and citizen bystanders. The action was orchestrated by Phelps Dodge, the major mining company in the area, which provided a list of workers and others who were to be arrested. The arrested were first held at a local baseball park before being loaded onto cattle cars and deported 200 miles to Tres Hermanas in New Mexico. The 16-hour journey took place through the desert without food or water. Once unloaded, the deportees, most without money or transportation, were warned against returning to Bisbee. During the Bisbee mine strike, company-hired vigilantes attempted to kidnap and deport Jim Brew, a miner and IWW member. Brew fought back and was shot and killed. Brew was a veteran of the West Virginia Cripple Creek strike of 1903-4. – 1917

The Screen Actors Guild held its first meeting. Among those attending: future horror movie star (Frankenstein’s Monster) and union activist Boris Karloff. – 1933

Congress passed first minimum wage law (40 cents per hour). – 1933

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