Today in Labor History

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Archive for the category “1920-1929”

June 11, 1925

June 11Cape Breton coal miner William Davis is killed by armed company police when he and other residents of New Waterford march to demand that utilities be restored after the mining company cut off the water and electric supply during a long and bitter strike. June 11 is commemorated throughout Nova Scotia as Miners’ Memorial Day.

May 18, 1928

bbhWilliam “Big Bill” Haywood – founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World, member of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of America, secretary of the Western Federation of Miners, and an advocate of industrial unionism – dies in the Soviet Union where he had fled after having been found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison under the Espionage Act of 1917.

May 4, 1926

imageA nine-day general strike called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) begins in the United Kingdom in support of nearly one million locked out coal miners who refused to accept a 13.5% pay cut. Millions of workers stood in solidarity with the miners.

December 16, 1929

December 16New South Wales mounted police open fire on a crowd of 4,000 coal miners – locked out since March – protesting the introduction of scabs at the Rothbury, Australia, mine. One miner was killed and others seriously injured. Earlier in September, the government introduced an “Unlawful Assembly Act,” which declared pickets and protests illegal and authorized the police to break them up.

November 15, 1922

november 15Soldiers 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 two-hour massacre. On November 21, the strike was settled and the workers’ demands were met.

November 6, 1922

image003An explosion in the Reilly No. 1 Mine in Spangler, Pennsylvania, kills 79 coal miners. The mine had been rated gaseous in 1918, but at the insistence of the new operators it was rated as non-gaseous even though a fire boss was employed and workers had been burned by gas on at least four occasions.

November 2, 1928

492140251-420x0Police protecting scabs clash with 2,000 striking waterfront wharf workers at Prince’s Pier in Melbourne, Australia. As the workers were retreating from the onslaught by the baton-wielding police, the commander ordered the police to open fire. Three workers were shot in the back, one fatally wounded. Several unions demanded an inquiry, but the government refused to investigate the shootings.

September 3, 1928


Being pushed into obsolescence by owners intent on replacing live music with recorded sound, 700 movie theater musicians in Chicago go on strike. The action was part of a nationwide wave of protest by the American Federation of Musicians, but by the end of the year, nearly 2,600 theater musicians were unemployed across the country.

June 2, 1929


Labor leader and president of the Western Federation of Miners (1902-1926) Charles “Charlie” Moyer dies. Moyer led the union during the Colorado Labor Wars and was accused in the assassination of the ex-governor of Idaho. Concerned with the “radicalism” of the IWW, Moyer took the union out and affiliated with the more conservative AFL in 1911. [Photo (L-R): Charles Moyer, Bill Haywood, and George Pettibone, all accused in the death of Frank Steunenberg, 1907.]

June 1, 1921


Established by Congress in 1920, the Railroad Labor Board cuts rail workers’ wages 12.5 percent. Following a series of further actions by the Board over the next year, 400,000 railroad shop workers went out on what would be a bitter three month-long strike on July 1, 1922.

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