Today in Labor History

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Archive for the category “1920-1929”

February 10, 1928

February 10

At the Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mine in Timmins, Ontario – the largest in North America – 39 miners are killed when a fire spreads carbon monoxide through the workings. There was no rescue plan in place and it took five days to put out the fire.

January 2, 1920

Jan 2

Attorney General Mitchell Palmer launches a series of raids, arresting thousands of foreign-born radicals and “labor agitators.” He believed communism was “eating its way into the homes of the American workman” and socialists were causing most of the country’s social problems.

December 15, 1921

December 15.jpg

A protest by 500 women in Kansas that began earlier in the week – organized in support of striking mine workers and against new anti-labor legislation that forced unions into arbitration and outlawed strikes in the state – swells to 4,000, stretching a mile long. The women, dubbed the “Amazon Army” by The New York Times, disbanded upon hearing that the militia was on its way. Victory came a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Kansas anti-labor laws unconstitutional.

November 18, 1929


Viljo Rosvall and Janne Voutilainen – two Finnish-Canadian members of the Lumber Workers Industrial Union of Canada from Thunder Bay, Ontario – disappear on their way to recruit sympathetic bushworkers for a strike. Their bodies were found at Onion Lake by a union search party the following spring and the community suspected that they had been murdered by company thugs.

November 15, 1922

arton6769Soldiers open fire into a crowd of 20,000 men, women, and children who are rallying in support of jailed labor leaders during a general strike that has shut down the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. An estimated 300 people were killed in the space of the two-hour massacre. On November 21, the strike was settled and the workers’ demands were met.

November 2, 1920

debsUnion leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs receives 913,664 write-in votes (3.4%) for president while he was in prison in Atlanta, Georgia.

October 6, 1927

October 6“The Jazz Singer” – this country’s first feature-length sound film – opens in New York City. Within three years, 22,000 theater jobs for musicians who accompanied silent films were lost, while only a few hundred jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created by the new technology.

September 9, 1924

hanapepepFilipino sugar cane workers – on strike for higher wages and better working conditions – and police clash at a strike camp in Hanapepe, Hawaii. Outarmed by police, strikers fought with cane knives, sticks, and a few guns. Sixteen workers and four policemen died. Striking workers and their leaders were arrested, tried, and imprisoned; many were later deported to the Philippines.

June 24, 1924

June 24Union leader, lawyer, and politician Terence V. Powderly dies. Powderly was the Grand Master Workman of the Knights of Labor – a labor organization that promoted an eight-hour workday, the end of child and convict labor, a graduated income tax, equal pay for equal work, and worker cooperatives. At its height in 1886, the Knights had over 700,000 members.

June 14, 1924

June 14The Ku Klux Klan attacks members of the Industrial Workers of the World at the IWW’s meeting hall in San Pedro, California, during a benefit for the families of two workers killed in a railroad accident. The KKK beat many of the 300 members; kidnapped, tarred, and feathered others; destroyed everything inside the building; and scalded two children by burning them with a pot of coffee. [Photo: A twelve-year old child is treated at the hospital for burns she received during the attack.]

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