Monday, September 02, 2013

the reason the USA takes the day of, calls it Labor Day, is to remind employees of those that went through hell to get legal rights for employee safety, many died in massacres to get you these rights, take a moment to ponder that. Then have a cold drink because they died so you could do so without a club at your head

Woodie Guthrie, American folk song legend

Woody Guthrie sings about the Ludlow Massacre, in which 20 people were killed for striking against coal mine operators in 1914. Happy Labor Day! Enjoy your day off, but give a thought to organized labor, which is what this day is all about.

The first Labor Day was held in 1882. Its origins stem from the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers. It became a federal holiday in 1894. It was originally intended that the day would be filled with a street parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations. After the parade, a festival was to be held to amuse local workers and their families.

Ten demonstrators were killed by police bullets during the "Little Steel Strike" of 1937. When several smaller steelmakers, including Republic Steel, refused to follow the lead of U.S. Steel (Big Steel) by signing a union contract, a strike was called by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). As a show of support, hundreds of SWOC sympathizers from all around Chicago gathered on Memorial Day at Sam's Place, where the SWOC had its strike headquarters. After a round of speeches, the crowd began a march across the prairie and toward the Republic Steel mill.

They were stopped midway by a formation of Chicago police. While demonstrators in front were arguing for their right to proceed, police fired into the crowd and pursued the people as they fled. Mollie West, a Typographical Union Local 16 member and a youthful demonstrator at the time, still recalls the command addressed to her: "Get off the field, or I'll put a bullet in your back."

Despite the filmed violence, SWOC lost the strike. Continued violence combined with financial pressures to force the workers back in without a contract. Yet time was on the steelworkers side. Some of the companies signed contracts in 1938. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt, not wanting any labor issues during the war, put major pressure on the Little Steel companies through the National War Labor Board to recognize SWOC as the legitimate bargaining agent for their workers, which finally forced Girlder and the other steel magnates to cave.

and that pretty much sums up why the governments and police departments of all nations don't want the citizens to have guns, and why it's important for the citizens to have guns... and ammo

the Ford Massacre was a demonstration of unemployed workers starting in Detroit and ending in Dearborn, Michigan, that took place on March 7, 1932.
The march resulted in four workers being shot to death by the Dearborn Police Department and security guards employed by the Ford Motor Company. Over 60 workers were injured, many by gunshot wounds. Three months later, a fifth worker died of his injuries. The march was organized by the Unemployed Councils. The Ford Hunger March was an important part of a chain of events that eventually led to the unionization of the U.S. auto industry.

All of the seriously wounded marchers were arrested, and many were chained to their hospital beds. That night, the offices of many Communist and Communist front organizations were raided in the Detroit area, and their leaders were arrested.  No law enforcement or Ford security officers were arrested, although all reliable reports showed that they were responsible for all of the gunfire.

Cannery Workers murdered due to manufacturing owners:
Patron, the nephew of a labor contractor, murdered the two men due to their involvement in union efforts to remove the contracting system from the salmon canning industry.

Everyone from carpenters and street car conductors to waitresses and newsboys belonged to a union. In 1919, when Seattle unions gained worldwide headlines by declaring a general strike that shut down the city for five days, some 60,000 workers belonged to 110 unions affiliated with the Seattle Central Labor Council and the Washington State Federation of Labor.

23 November 1903 (United States) Colorado Labor Wars -- Troops were dispatched to Cripple Creek, Colorado to defeat a strike by the Western Federation of Miners, with the specific purpose of driving the union out of the district. The strike had begun in the ore mills earlier in 1903, and then spread to the mines.
8 June 1904 (United States) A battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners at Dunnville ended with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. Seventy-nine of the strikers were deported to Kansas two days later.

19 August 1916 (United States) Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner Neil Jamison attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene, claiming that the waterfront where the incident took place was Federal land and therefore outside their jurisdiction. (When the picketers retaliated against the strikebreakers that evening, the local police intervened, claiming that they had crossed the line of jurisdiction.) Three days later, twenty-two union men attempted to speak out at a local crossroads, but each was arrested; arrests and beatings of strikebreakers became common throughout the following months, and on 30 October vigilantes forced IWW speakers to run the gauntlet, subjecting them to whipping, tripping kicking, and impalement against a spiked cattle guard at the end of the gauntlet. In response, the IWW called for a meeting on 5 November. When the union men arrived, they were fired on; seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing.

26 August 1919 (United States) United Mine Worker organizer Fannie Sellins was gunned down by company guards in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.

 22 September 1919 – 8 January 1920 (United States) The "Great Steel Strike" began. Ultimately, 350,000 steel workers walked off their jobs to demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee called off the strike on 8 January 1920, their goals unmet.

11 November 1919 (United States) Centralia Massacre -- IWW organizer Wesley Everest was lynched after a Centralia, Washington IWW hall was attacked by Legionnaires.

22 December 1919 (United States) Amid a strike for union recognition by 395,000 steelworkers (ultimately unsuccessful), approximately 250 "anarchists," "communists," and "labor agitators" were deported to Russia, marking the beginning of the so-called "Red Scare."

19 May 1920 (United States) The Battle of Matewan.
 Despite efforts by police chief (and former miner) Sid Hatfield and Mayor Cabel Testerman to protect miners from interference in their union drive in Matewan, West Virginia, Baldwin-Felts detectives hired by the local mining company arrived to evict miners and their families from the Stone Mountain Mine camp. A gun battle ensued, resulting in the deaths of 7 detectives, Mayor Testerman, and 2 miners.

 Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated(Police Chief) Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners at the "Battle of Blair Mountain," dubbed the "redneck war" and "the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War." Army troops later intervened against the striking mineworkers in West Virginia.

22 June 1922 (United States) Herrin massacre-- Thirty-six people are killed, 21 of them non-union miners, during a coal-mine strike at Herrin, Illinois.

the 1934 San Francisco general strike on the waterfront, the national guard were called in, with tanks :

These scare tactics led to an investigation of employer actions by a Senate subcommittee. The flagrant destruction of many of the records of the Industrial Association, described in this report, effectively prevented the Committee from obtaining full documentary evidence on the activities of the association. Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor, the subcommittee’s 1942 report, described the concerted efforts of the Industrial Association, the newspapers, and the San Francisco police to discredit the strike. for the entire report

The opportunity for a “frontal assault” came in 1936 with the sit down strike at General Motors plants around the country. Arnold Bernstein noted that the youth of the autoworkers made the sit down strike “democracy run wild.” The autoworkers used the innovative sit-down strike tactic to prevent the removal of dies and to obstruct the importation of strike breakers. After a 44-day period of intense negotiations, the UAW gained the right to bargain with General Motors. The moment was unique in American history; both Michigan Governor Frank Murphy and President Franklin Roosevelt did not forcibly remove strikers.

The UAW’s conquest of General Motors quickly exacted contracts from Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker, along with numerous parts producers. In the wake of the strike, the union had “256 locals, 400 collective bargaining agreements, and 220,000 dues-paying members.” The union won several victories and had growing numbers, and in the summer of 1937 began to take on the Ford Motor Company

Perhaps the most dramatic moment of UAW-CIO’s campaign to unionize the automobile industry was the “Battle of the Overpass,” a brawl between Harry Bennett’s thug regime and UAW leaflet distributors led by Walter Reuther and Richard Frankensteen. Detroit News photographer Scotty Kilpatrick captured the beat-down, and it generated iconic images of the fight to unionize the auto industry. Arnold Bernstein described the attack: The UAW people were attacked unmercifully. Reuther was beaten, knocked down, lifted to his feet, and beaten again. Four or five men worked over Frankensteen. They skinned his coat up his back and over his face and two men locked his arms while others slugged him. Then they knocked him to the concrete floor . . . A separate individual grabbed him by each foot and by each hand and his legs were spread apart and his body was toward the east . . . and ten other men proceeded to kick him in the crotch and in the groin, and around the head and also to gore him with their heels in the abdomen.

That attack, and the public revulsion that followed, ultimately forced Henry Ford to give in to union demands to organize, which occurred on the eve of World War II. After several organizers and workers were fired in the spring of 1941, a walkout occurred in the foundry, which spread to the entire plant. Unionization was called to a vote, and a majority approved of the UAW-CIO. Much to the dismay of a senile Ford, the “UAW received over 70% of the vote, won recognition in all Ford plants, and obtained a favorable collective bargaining contract.”

 Didn't see that in your American History book did you. Just one case in a long history of corporate greed versus workers and unions, and just one example of the people with the money doing anything at all to make more money and the people with power abusing it. Both the money and the power calling the shots and forcing the cops and national guard to shoot the strikers. No kidding. Photos from


  1. It is very beautiful article. I have remember those poor employees who gave their lives to get the rights for their health and safety. So much of trouble they took.

    According to Health And Safety Training Peterborough, there are still 41% of employees in the USA who don't know their rights.

    Thank you for the informative article.
    Arnold Brame

  2. I wish you had mentioned the Homestead Strike with Carnegie Steel which was a major setback for labor.

    You might want to send me your facts on US Steel to check next time you post about the first billion dollar company formed. My great-grandfather was one of the founders of US Steel and on the Board of Directors and for a short time a VP. My family owned one of the small companies and as agent brought about an amalgamation of twenty such companies for JP Morgan. Eventually his interest waned in steel and was founder of Bankers Trust and Directer of two others. First a family of steel and now bankers.


  3. Interesting photos of the WW1-era Renault FT17 light tanks. Were they still in the inventory of the US Army in the 1930's?

    1. they were in the Natl guard in 1934 when they were used in these photos to pressure the union strikers, as the above info mentions