Today in Labor History May 3rd

Pete Seeger

At the height of the movement for the eight-hour day, police shot into a crowd of workers engaged in a general strike at McCormick Harvester Company in Chicago. Four workers were killed and hundreds were injured. Anarchists called for a public rally the following day at Haymarket Square to protest the police brutality. At the rally, a bomb was thrown, killing several police. No one was ever caught, yet the police arrested eight leading anarchists who were convicted and sentenced to death. The event became the inspiration for International Workers Day. – 1886

Twenty-five hundred workers marched in Milwaukee for the 8-hour day. Governor Jeremiah Rusk supplied the Milwaukee National Guard headquarters with increased ammunition and the entire city police force with four companies of infantry an artillery. – 1886

Eugene V. Debs and other leaders of the American Railway Union were jailed for six months for contempt of court in connection with the Pullman railroad car strike. – 1895

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Debs goes to Jail, Pete Seeger is born, Wisconsin enacts Workmen’s Comp and 7000 arrested protesting the Vietnam war.” quote=”Bombing in Haymarket, Debs goes to Jail, Pete Seeger is born, Wisconsin enacts Workmen’s Comp and 7000 arrested protesting the Vietnam war.”]

Folk singer-songwriter and activist Pete Seeger is born. “Now, if you want higher wages, let me tell you what to do./You got to talk to the workers in the shop with you./ You got to build you a union, got to make it strong./ But if you all stick together, boys, it won’t be long./ You’ll get shorter hours. Better working conditions./ Vacations with pay. Take your kids to the seashore.” – From Talking Union, by Lee Hays, Millard Lampell, and Pete Seeger. – 1919

Wisconsin enacted the nation’s first state constitutional Workmen’s Compensation Act, guaranteeing injury compensation as a legal right. The constitutionality of the Act was upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on November 1 (and by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1926). – 1911

The IWW strike at the Draper Manufacturing Company began in Cleveland, Ohio. – 1934

7,000 people were arrested trying to shut down the Pentagon in protest against the Vietnam war. – 1971

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