Today in Labor History – September 17th

Pittston Coal Strike

Pittston Coal Strike

The Allegheny Arsenal exploded, killing seventy-five workers, including 43 women—the worst industrial accident associated with the Civil War. – 1862

At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony called for the formation of a Working Women’s Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote. – 1868

One hundred thousand Pennsylvania anthracite coal miners go on strike. Their average annual wage was $250. They were paid by the ton, defined by Pennsylvania as 2,400 pounds, but which mine operators had increased to as much as 4,000 pounds.  – 1900

The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) formed at a convention in Washington, D.C. In 1999 it became part of the International Association of Machinists (IAM). – 1917

Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09. – 1933

Southern employers met in Greenville, North Carolina, to plan a counter-offensive to bust the textile labor strikes along the Eastern seaboard. Click To Tweet An army of 10,000 National Guardsmen and 15,000 armed deputies was subsequently mobilized in Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, and Mississippi. The show of force failed, however, as 421,000 struck the following day. – 1934

A Southern Pacific train loaded with sugar beets struck a makeshift bus filled with 60 migrant workers near Salinas, California, killing 32 and wounding 31. The driver said the bus was so crowded he couldn’t see the train coming. – 1963

The ten month Pittston Coal strike began on this date, as 98 miners and a minister occupied the Pittston Coal Company’s Moss 3 preparation plant in Carbo, Virginia. The strike began after Pittston terminated health benefits for retirees, widows and disabled miners. State troopers were called in to arrest strikers after violent conflicts erupted, yet the struggle barely made the news the United States. Arguably the most militant strike of the time, the United Mine Workers (UMWA) engaged in a variety of actions, ranging from a nonviolent takeover to mineworkers blockading the road into the plants, leading to their arrest. The United Mine Workers (UMWA) ultimately won, and the Pittston strike became one of the few labor victories of the 1980s. – 1989

The Occupy Wall Street movement was launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” – 2011

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