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Labor History
Aug 08, 2023

Both of these events are a part of Union History; the blood of workers families paved the way for us to be here today. 

Haymarket Riots — "No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance." — William J. Adelman, Co-founder of Illinois Labor History Society in Chicago 

Pullman Strike — The Pullman Strike of 1894 was the first national strike in United States history. Before coming to an end, it involved over 150,000 workers in twenty-seven states and territories and would paralyze the nations railway system.
 

This session focuses on the sacrifices made by miners and their families during a pivotal time in the labor movement.

Italian Hall Tragedy — In Calumet, Michigan, in December of 1913, thousands of miners had been on strike for five months. They were fighting for Union recognition, safer working conditions, shorter workdays, and better pay. On Christmas Eve, hundreds gathered on the second floor of the Italian Hall to attend a holiday party for strikers’ families. As the children filed to the stage to receive presents, someone yelled “Fire!”. People panicked and rushed towards the exit. However, there was no fire. Many were trampled on the stairs. Officially, 73 people died and more than half were children under ten. Despite a Congressional Hearing and a coroner’s inquest, the person who yelled fire was never identified.

Ludlow Massacre — The Ludlow Massacre was a domestic massacre resulting from strike-breaking. On April 20, 1914, the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company guards attacked a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado, with the National Guard using machine guns to fire into the colony. 25 people, including 11 children, died in the massacre.
 

This session focuses on the sacrifices made by miners and their families during a pivotal time in the labor movement.

The Battle of Blair Mountain — This video focuses on the largest armed insurrection in U.S. History, besides the Civil War. If you are unfamiliar with the Battle of Blair Mountain, you are not alone. David Alan Corbin, author of Gun Thugs, Rednecks, and Radicals: A Documentary History of the West Virginia Mine Wars, writes that in “a dozen years of public schooling in West Virginia, he heard ‘nothing’ about the clash or its key figures, despite it being the largest labor uprising in American history and despite him being reared at its ground zero.”

The Smithsonian also wrote that, at that time, “The coal industry was essentially the state’s sole source of work, and massive corporations built homes, general stores, schools, churches and recreational facilities in the remote towns near the mines . . . Sanitary and living conditions in the company houses were abysmal, wages were low, and state politicians supported wealthy coal company owners rather than miners.” — The Smithsonian

The New Battlefield — This part of the video focuses on the birth of the modern Right to Work (for less) movement and its founder, the “Big Fink” Vance Muse, Union growth after WWII, and ultimately the decline in union membership based on the modern right to work movement.


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Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen
917 Shenandoah Shores Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
  (540) 622-6522


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