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This website was created on occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow-Massacre

April 20, 1914


 

1914

Ludlow Massacre

 

100 YEARS LATER...

"Let the public take over the mines !"

Long live the solidarity of the coal miners all over the world !

 

Ludlow Massacre Song

Woody Guthrie

It was early springtime when the strike was on,
They drove us miners out of doors,
Out from the houses that the Company owned,
We moved into tents up at old Ludlow.

I was worried bad about my children,
Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge,
Every once in a while a bullet would fly,
Kick up gravel under my feet.

We were so afraid you would kill our children,
We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep,
Carried our young ones and pregnant women
Down inside the cave to sleep.

That very night your soldiers waited,
Until all us miners were asleep,
You snuck around our little tent town,
Soaked our tents with your kerosene.

You struck a match and in the blaze that started,
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns,
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me
Thirteen children died from your guns.

I carried my blanket to a wire fence corner,
Watched the fire till the blaze died down,
I helped some people drag their belongings,
While your bullets killed us all around.

I never will forget the look on the faces
Of the men and women that awful day,
When we stood around to preach their funerals,
And lay the corpses of the dead away.

We told the Colorado Governor to call the President,
Tell him to call off his National Guard,
But the National Guard belonged to the Governor,
So he didn't try so very hard.

Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes,
Up to Walsenburg in a little cart,
They sold their potatoes and brought some guns back,
And they put a gun in every hand.

The state soldiers jumped us in a wire fence corners,
They did not know we had these guns,
And the Red-neck Miners mowed down these troopers,
You should have seen those poor boys run.

We took some cement and walled that cave up,
Where you killed these thirteen children inside,
I said, "God bless the Mine Workers' Union"
And then I hung my head and cried.

 

 

 

 

Remember Ludlow!

 

The cry of American workers a hundred years ago again rings throughout the world.

Ludlow provoked what historians have called the "Ten Days War", a working class uprising which nearly became an interstate conflict. Angry Colorado miners captured cities, burned mining camps, attacked company gun thugs. Five thousand Wyoming miners armed with guns were prepared to cross the border to demand justice for women and babies massacred on the plains of Colorado.

Those women and children died as martyrs to the cause of economic justice. Their deaths were commemorated by the beautiful Ludlow Monument.

 

 

 

 

Remembering the Ludlow Massacre !

April 20, 1914

These events occurred exactly a century ago, as today, organized labor slides towards the abyss in a nation ruled by big money interests and well armed gun thugs. A thousand graves cry out, tis no time to tarry, this is what Labor Day is about, it’s not about the rights you have, but about the rights you still don’t have, almost a century later.

In the earliest days of American history, immigrants seeking refuge from the daily injustices of their home countries believed America was a place where hard work and conviction determined the amount of success to be gained. Downtrodden and bedraggled, these miners not only lived the American dream by standing up for what was right, but they helped write it. These battles between men and corporations distinctly shaped labor relations for future generations.

 

On April 20th, 1914, the women and children had sought refuge in the dugout below their tent. When the tents caught fire, they were trapped below where they died from smoke inhalation. Nothing short of a tragedy, this news spread like wildfire, and soon the nation reverberated with the knowledge that innocent people had paid the ultimate price in the battle between union and corporate management.

Total casualties reached at least nineteen, with thirteen women and children, five miners and one guard on that fateful day. Destruction continued as striking miners fled to the hills and began sabotaging any mines they came across. Ultimately the miners lost the strike and never gained union recognition. Shortly after, though, CF&I adopted their own company union which, in truth, proved to be successful for a period of time, but in the end it failed to appease the workers’ demands, and outside union recognition was once again sought out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1914 - Ludlow, Colorado Massacre

 

- This was the most violent labor conflict in U.S. history;
the reported death toll was nearly 200   It began withe deaths of 20 people, 11 of them children, during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado in the U.S. on April 20, 1914. These deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women, twelve children, six miners and union officials and one National Guardsman were killed. In response, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard.
                    
  This was the bloodiest event in the 14-month 1913-1914 southern Colorado Coal Strike. The strike was organized by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) against coal mining companies in Colorado. The three biggest mining companies were the Rockefeller family-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMF), and the Victor-American Fuel Company (VAF).
       

Mining firms had long been able to attract low-skill labor, in spite of modest wages and stiff cost-cutting policies designed to maintain profits in a competitive industry. This made conditions in the mines difficult and dangerous for the workers, and the sector became a ripe target for union organizers. Colorado miners had attempted to periodically unionize since the state's first strike in 1883.

The Western Federation of Miners organized primarily hard rock miners in the gold and silver camps during the 1890s. Beginning in 1900, the UMWA began organizing coal miners in the western states, including southern Colorado. The UMWA decided to focus on the CF&I because of the company's harsh management tactics under the conservative and distant Rockefellers and other investors. As part of their campaign to break or prevent strikes, the coal companies had lured immigrants, mainly from southern and Eastern Europe and Mexico. CF&I's management purposely mixed immigrants of different nationalities in the mines to discourage communication that might lead to organization.

But proletarian internationalism knows no foreign language. While the bourgeoisie waged the First World War, the workers of 23 nationalities demonstrasted their unity in their strikes.

 

As was typical in the industry of that day, miners were paid by tons of coal mined and not reimbursed for "dead work," such as laying rails, timbering, and shoring the mines to make them operable. Given the intense pressure to produce, mine safety was often given short shrift. More than 1,700 miners died in Colorado from 1884 to 1912, a rate that was between 2 and 3.5 times the national average during those years. Furthermore, the miners felt they were being short-changed on the weight of the coal they mined, arguing that the scales used for paying them were different from those used for coal customers.
Miners challenging the weights risked being dismissed.

Most miners also lived in "company towns," where homes, schools, doctors, clergy, and law enforcement were provided by the company, as well as stores offering a full range of goods that could be paid for in company currency, scrip. However, this became an oppressive environment in which law focused on enforcement of increasing prohibitions on speech or assembly by the miners to discourage union-building activity. Also, under pressure to maintain profitability, the mining companies steadily reduced their investment
in the town and its amenities while increasing prices at the company store so that miners and their families experienced worsening conditions and higher costs. Colorado's legislature had passed laws to improve the condition of the mines and towns, including the outlawing of the use of scrip, but these laws were poorly enforced.


It’s cold most mornings in the Rocky Mountains, especially when you are living in a canvas tent with nothing but a cast iron stove for heat. I reckon a fella sort of gets used to those sorts of things, but it’s most a hardship on the wives and the youngins. It all began in September of 1913. Many of us colliers had had enough of Mr. John D. Rockefeller and his C.F & I coal company. The death rate in them mines was seven per thousand, we lived in company housing and had to shop in company stores, cause we was paid in script stead of real money.

Weren’t no one to check the weights on the coal we was hauling cept for company men.

We’d had enough. Why in 1913 alone, 110 men got killed in Colorado mines and they left behind 51 widows and 108 orphans. Being paid on the tonnage system made some of the boys reckless with their lives, cause they was desperate for money, cause they had hungry children, but sometimes their recklessness got others hurt as well, I reckon.

We began to listen to the union men, who was telling us how the death rate in union mines was about forty percent lower. They was telling us how the company was breaking the law by not paying us in real money. The boys and me, we didn’t know nothing about such things; most of us couldn’t even read. Even so, we reckoned we had a right to be paid for “dead work.” I mean, if in you ask a man to cut down trees and clear right of way and lay down railroad track he got a right to be paid for it, don’t he?

The company over the years had tried to make things some better for us, with some better housing and a doctor every once and a while. We was uneducated, but we weren’t stupid, they was trying to buy us off, and that don’t feed no widows, nor orphans. So we was stuck, we didn’t have no place to turn. There weren’t no government to speak of, and the law, if you could call em that. Well, they was all company men, they weren’t no copper button blue coat policemen but toughs, just roust abouts with guns, so we was stuck.

The boys decided to throw in with the United Mine Workers of America and it weren’t long before the company hired the Baldwin–Phelps Detective Agency. They was from back East, but we knew who they was, they was strike breakers and when they arrived they begun putting the strikers out of their houses. It was snowing like hell that morning, but they didn’t care nothing bout that. They had writs, don’t even know if they was legal  or even what they said, but them detectives they began emptying out our houses stacking our belongings into the street, snowstorm or no snowstorm.

The union had leased some land off of the company’s property and we began moving our stuff there. It was located in a small canyon where we could keep an eye on the mine. We was all in it now, but we’d made our demands and we would stick by them.

Recognition of the union as bargaining agent:

  1. An increase in tonnage rates (equivalent to a 10% wage increase)
  2. Enforcement of the eight-hour work day law.
  3. Payment for “dead work” (laying track, timbering, handling impurities, etc.)
  4. Weight-check men elected by the workers (to keep company men honest)
  5. The right to use any store,  and choose their boarding houses and doctors.
  6. Strict enforcement of Colorado’s laws (such as mine safety rules, abolition of scrip), and an end to the  company guard system.

Course the company rejected our demands out of hand and as soon as the strike began, the company began hiring scabs. Fore long, them detective boys set up searchlights and was shining them down into our camp all night just to make us mad trying to disturb our sleep. That weren’t so bad, but every now and again they’d fire a stray rifle shot into the camp. So the boys began to dig pits under their tents where they could put their women folk and the youngins to protect them from the flying lead. Well, it didn’t take long for them harassment tactics begun to take affect. Some of the boys, well, they was ready for an out and out shooting war, but we talked’em down from it. But just you let us catch a scab by his lonesome, and then, you just wait and see what would happen.

Them union men they had their hands full trying keeping the boys calm. They splained it, we had to follow the law and not let the company goad us into a fight, cause the big city papers back East would paint us as a violent mob disrupting an honest business. Didn’t make no sense to me, but I reckon it was so. They was shooting into our tents where there was women and kids, and didn’t care none, all they cared about was their money and their coal. Them detective boys built themselves an armored car out of a big old sedan car and mounted a machine gun on top of it.

 

 

 

It was getting just plain awful when Governor Ammons sent in the National Guard at the end of October, trying to calm things down. At first, it helped a might, but then the Guard just became more cops rousting the strikers and backslapping the company men. It weren’t no surprise really, we’d already been warned bout the general in charge of the Guard. They said, ole John Chase had been a real hard ass in the Cripple Creek strike ten year ago, but what he done to us was down right criminal. He weren’t no Christian nor honest man. The searchlights and shootings continued in the camp and then on March 10th 1914 the dead body of a scab was found on the railroad tracks near Forbes Colorado.

Well sir, General Chase, he ordered our camp destroyed, he didn’t hold no hearing nor investigation, he just went ahead and ordered the only lodgings for poor and hungry men women and children destroyed, cause one man had died someplace on company property. On April 10th the day after Easter, the National Guard appeared on the rim of the canyon. A lot of the Greeks was attending a funeral for a baby what had died the day before. Then Guardsmen appeared at the camp entrance, claiming we was a holding some fella against his will, but there weren’t no truth to it. Our leader, Louis Tikas asked for a meeting at the Ludlow train depot, less than a mile away with the head of the militia.

While Tikas was gone, them Guard units began to set up machine gun emplacements. Everybody knew it meant trouble and Tikas, he high tailed it back to camp. Some folks was scared, some was just plain angry. They’d gotten so sick of the whole situation they tried to flank them Guard units. My main concern was getting my wife and babies to safety.  Some folks was running towards an out cropping of hills we called the “black hills,” but the shooting had already started, and then, by some stroke of luck, a train pulled in front of the machine guns. It was the last chance most folks had to escape, cause from then on, the shooting went on all day and never stopped. By night fall, our camp was in flames and folks testified they witnessed two Guardsmen hold Louis Tikas while Karl Linderfelt, the commander of the National Guard units busted a rifle butt over Tikas’s head. They found his body the next day along with two other fellas shot in the back. They had laid them bodies out along side the Colorado & Southern Railroad tracks for three days, in full view of the passing trains. They was sending us a message, alright.

Them militia officers wouldn’t let nobody remove them bodies, until finally, the railway union complained, but you know, that weren’t really nothing.  It didn’t matter a hoot in hell what happen to them men. Cause when the smoke cleared in our camp they found what was left of a tent and down in the pit we had dug to protect our women and children, we found the bodies of two women and ten children, some of them no more than babies. How could decent folks do such a thing? Fifty strikers died, but to wantonly kill women and children, that’s something else entirely. Most of the folks had come from half way round the world searching for freedom and a better life. Look what they got, they got shot down and murdered, what sort of place is that?

That weren’t the end of it though, no sir. Folks they was pretty angry by now, them union men in Colorado sent out a call to arms for union men and strikers to gather up arms and ammunition. And I guess, it would have been like the first American Revolution, all over again. At Trinidad Colorado, must have been at least a thousand union men getting guns and ammunition from the union headquarters and the orders was to attack the mines. Them boys set fires and killed the mine guards. The governor, he rushed in hundreds more National Guardsmen into the area and there ain’t no telling what would have come of it, if in the President his self, Woodrow Wilson hadn’t sent in Federal troops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The troops was supposed to restore order but there weren’t no order, ain’t no law neither, when folks can murder little children and still walk the streets. An investigation was ordered by Mr. John D. Rockefeller, he called it the Colorado Coalfield War, but we called it the Ludlow Massacre. The union run out of money in December, and the mine had hired replacement workers, so there weren’t no work for us, no how. In the end we didn’t get nothing but killed.

Four hundred strikers and union men was arrested, 322 of them was indicted for murder. John Lawson, the leader of the strike was convicted of murder, but his conviction was overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court. Twenty two National Guardsmen were court-martialed but they was all acquitted, cept for Karl Linderfelt, he was found guilty of assault on Louis Tikas and was reprimanded for his crime. The estimates for how many folks died was all over the map, some said it was 69, others said it was 199 but all that mattered to me was them ten babies. If a fella wants to get his head busted or shot dead fighting for his rights, well then, that’s his own look out.

A fellas got to ask himself what sort of country this is when a worker stands no chance against the big money back East, when the cops and courts turn their backs on him in the face of his miseries and his murder.

 

Lucy Costas, – age, four years

Onofrio Costas – age, six years

Cloriva Pedregon – age, four years

Rodgerio Pedregon – age, six years

Frank Petrucci – age, four months

Joe Petrucci – age, four years

Lucy Petrucci – age, two years

William Snyder Jr. – age, eleven years

Elvira Valdez – age, three months

Eulala Valdez – age, eight years

Mary Valdez – age, seven years

________

 

 

 

 

 

The miners worked and lived in deplorable conditions. Colorado mines had the highest death rates of any in mines the country. The deaths really only stemmed from one cause: miners were not paid for “dead work.” Dead work consisted of tasks like putting timber up to prevent roofs from caving in, a catch-22 for miners because they received no pay for the work that aided in saving their lives.

Coal mining work was dismal at best, a job where a man walked in but might not walk out. The standard ten-hour day was spent heaving a pickaxe repeatedly in a space that a man can’t stand up straight in. At the end of the day, the coal was lugged to a station where it was then screened by a mine operator whose interests lay with CF&I, resulting in one to two dollars less pay. Termed 'insufferable' today, these conditions were a day-to-day reality for miners.

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Jones is a prominent name in the Labor Movement. She was a fire brand of advanced age who spent the later years of her life fighting for labor justice.

She paid many visits to Ludlow and gave speeches to encourage the strikers to continue their fight, despite their fatigue and frustration.

 Mother Jones is programmed to organize strikers and she is later arrested by the militia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ludlow Massacre by Walter H. Fink was written in 1914. It revealed the horrors of the Ludlow Massacre. The Ludlow Massacre occurred on Easter night of 1914. 18 women, men, and children were killed at a mining encampment in Ludlow, Colorado. Coal miners in Colorado had been trying to join the UMWA, but were opposed by the coal operators. The massacre was a well planned attack on a tent colony by Colorado National Guard soldiers, coal company guards, and private detectives. They burned to death the 18 miners who were on strike, as well as their families and one company man. Eleven small children and four women died that day, each holding one another under the burning tents. Investigations revealed that kerosene had been purposefully dumped on the tents before hand, in order to set them afire. The Ludlow site is now a ghost town and is owned by UMWA. The organization built a monument in memory of the innocent people who died that day while fighting for social justice.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the 1870s through the 1930s the class struggle in the United States was exceptionally violent. Capitalists enforced their prerogative through brute force, crushing strikes and unions with legions of spies and hired thugs. Standing behind these private armies were the armed men of the state—police, state militia and federal troops—readily deployed by the elected officials of both the Republican and Democratic Party. Workers fought back, frequently making America’s mine, mill, and factory towns and neighborhoods the settings for pitched battles.

Among the bloodiest struggle of this period, the Colorado coalminers’ strike of 1913-14 stands out both for the savagery of the coal barons and the militancy and solidarity of the workers. The strike is infamous for the Ludlow massacre, in which state militia opened fire on a tent city of evicted miners and their families, killing 19. In the aftermath, miners took up arms and for 10 days exacted military-style revenge on the mine operators, the National Guard, and the right-wing bands of vigilantes that played a major part in terrorizing miners for the duration of the strike.

The strike holds important lessons for workers today, when the American ruling class has torn to shreds the social contract that softened the class struggle from the end of World War II until the 1970s. Once again workers face grim working conditions, poverty wages, and the prospect of an insecure retirement. Once again capitalists and the government are prepared to rule through violence.

The falsity of the claim that there is no history of class struggle in the United States is demonstrated by events like the Colorado miners’ strike. However, while in American history one finds no shortage of workers’ fighting against their bosses in the streets, their struggle to emancipate themselves politically lags far behind. In the strike of 1913-1914, workers faced not just the most powerful capitalist in the nation in John D. Rockefeller, Jr., but the violence of the state mobilized by Democratic Party Governor Elias Ammons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conditions in Colorado’s coal mines and camps

 

 

Miners were paid starvation wages to work 10 to 12-hour shifts hundreds of feet under the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. They were often forced to pay for their own mining equipment—including picks, gunpowder and dangerous open-flame head lights, which were known to cause explosions. Such blasts could kill or maim dozens of workers at a time. Explosions and cave-ins were common. Between 1884 and 1914, nearly 1,700 miners were killed in the mines. Companies rarely paid compensation to the widows and children of miners killed in accidents.

Workers were frequently robbed of wages by mine supervisors responsible for “weighing out” the coal collected during a shift. Company managers instructed supervisors to “scale slight” the miners, and workers were often suspended or fired on-the-spot for protesting. If a miner’s load included non-coal rocks, the miner was subject to fines, suspension and dismissal. Workers were also not paid for the non-mining work they were forced to perform for the companies. These included backbreaking tasks like timbering, laying railroad, and cleaning mine property.

Workers, the majority of whom were immigrants, were only paid an average of $3-4 per day—sometimes not enough to feed their families, who were usually forced to live in “closed” company towns where barbed wire lined the tops of exterior fences. The company towns were “feudal domains with the company acting as lord and master. The ‘law’ consisted of company rules. Curfews were imposed, company guards—brutal thugs armed with machine guns and rifles loaded with soft-point bullets—would not admit any ‘suspicious stranger’ into the camp and would not permit any miner to leave,” according to historian Phillip Foner.

It was common for 20 people to share a four-room company-owned shack made of discarded timber slabs. Though companies eventually replaced some of these hovels with somewhat larger boarding houses, they claimed that many of the miners preferred living in shacks, ostensibly because it reminded them of the conditions from which they fled in their countries of origin. Many companies provided no trash dumping services, and so backyards and streets were strewn with piles of garbage and rotting food.

In company towns, miners were usually forced to shop at company stores either by convenience or by threat of dismissal. In lieu of cash payment, workers were sometimes given company scrip. Scrip could only be redeemed at company stores, which usuriously charged high prices for basic food products and other necessities. At some companies, miners were given $1 per month for medical attention, which they could only redeem with a company doctor.

 

The Colorado Labor Wars of 1903-04

 

In 1902, the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) boasted 17,000 members in the coal mines of Colorado. The union had gained prominence in strikes at Cripple Creek in 1894 and Cour d’Alene in 1899. Though the WFM won workers the right to an 8-hour workday in the Cripple Creek strike, mine operators hardly ever adhered to this in the subsequent decades. The 1899 strike in Idaho was crushed when President William McKinley sent in the US Army, imprisoned 1,000 striking miners and killed a handful.

 

 

Big Bill Haywood

 

Big Bill Haywood

 

 

Several WFM organizers, including “Big” Bill Haywood, lost faith in the American Federation of Labor’s (AFL) method of craft unionism, which split workers in the same workplaces along lines of skill. They began to organize the WFM along the lines of industrial unionism, which sought to organize all workers in one industry into the same union.

Attacking AFL head Samuel Gompers for his betrayal of the Pullman Strike of 1894 in which he stamped out growing calls for a general strike, Haywood rose to second in command of the WFM and heeded the revolutionary sentiments of the union’s members. At the WFM convention in 1901, workers agreed to a proclamation that read: “A complete revolution of social and economic conditions is the only salvation of the working class.” The WFM would go on to help form the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1905.  

Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved an 8-hour workday amendment to the state constitution, with 72 percent of the vote in the 1902 elections. Though public sentiment was widely in favor of advancing the cause of the workers, the Colorado state government simply refused to implement the law.

Conditions for strike action were ripe. When in 1903 a mine explosion in Idaho Springs killed several workers, mine operators instructed the police to round up and expel all WFM organizers.

On February 14 that year, the mill workers of Colorado City—a crucial ore refinery town—walked off the job in protest of the United States Reduction and Refining Company’s refusal to meet their demands. The company had brought in agents from the Pinkerton Agency and fired 42 workers that had joined the union. The strike spread quickly as other mill owners refused to negotiate with the WFM.

After the strike began to spread, Republican Governor James Peabody sent 300 Colorado national guardsmen to Colorado City to guide scabs to work, raid the homes of workers, and terrorize organizers and their families. Six hundred national guardsmen were also ordered to guard mines in Telluride and Cripple Creek, despite the protests of hundreds of local residents.

As 3,500 workers at mines that supplied USRRC mills went on strike, elites in the Cripple Creek region formed the Cripple Creek District Citizen’s Alliance and the Cripple Creek Mine Owners’ Association to extra-legally suppress the workers’ movement.

The organizations arranged for 1,000 rifles and 60,000 rounds of ammunition to be sent to Cripple Creek to be used by vigilante groups established as a tool to terrorize striking workers and their families. When vigilantes tied one worker—Henry Maki—to a telegraph pole, a photograph of the incident was used by Bill Haywood on a widely popular broadside called, “Is Colorado in America?”

 

A WFM broadside published by Haywood

A WFM broadside published by Haywood

 

 

The commander of the Colorado National Guard, General Sherman Bell, proclaimed that his presence was “a military necessity, which recognizes no laws, either civil or social.” Bell was particularly blunt about his goal. “I came to do up this damned anarchistic Federation [The WFM].” When asked about the National Guard’s lack of respect for due process when dealing with captured union workers, Bell responded, “Habeas corpus be damned! We’ll give ‘em post-mortems!”

On January 26, 1904, tragedy struck at the Independence Mine in Victor, Colorado, as 15 non-union, replacement workers were killed when a cable snapped and a cage used to transport miners fell 1,500 feet. All 168 men at the mine promptly walked off the job. The strike continued to grow, and the vigilantes and guard stepped up their efforts to wipe out the workers’ movement.

On June 6, an explosion at Independence mine killed 13 more miners. Fearing the mass mobilization of workers in response to the incident, mine owners removed all local officials sympathetic to workers. A sheriff who initially refused to resign was threatened with murder, prompting his departure.

On June 7, mine owners were deputized. The wave of terror that ensued swept the workers’ movement off of its feet. The Citizens Alliance vigilantes rounded up 175 workers and sympathizers and locked them in cages with no food. All told 1,569 workers and sympathizers were arrested during the strike. The Citizens Alliance established a kangaroo court and deported 230 union organizers who failed to denounce the WFM. Around this time, the National Guard surrounded WFM headquarters and fired through the windows, killing four.

On June 8, General Bell attacked a camp of union workers and killed one. Armed company agents then assaulted the local WFM newspaper, the Victor Daily Record. The press was salvaged and turned into an anti-union newspaper.

As writer George Suggs points out, “at no time did the WFM engage in armed resistance… even when their extreme harassment and provocation might have justified it.”

The strike was defeated and the WFM crushed. A large festival was held for Governor Peabody. Dubbed the “Law and Order Banquet,” the railroads offered half price tickets for Citizens Alliance members travelling to attend the event. Governor Peabody said that the crushing of the strike movement was an issue of “controlling the lawless classes.”

Although the workers were defeated in 1904, the conditions that had caused them to rise up did not improve. It was only a matter of time before tensions boiled over again.

In 1912, the number of Colorado coal miners per 1,000 who were killed in accidents was twice the national average. Wages were as low as they were a decade before, and company scrip and closed company towns were still the main practice. Workers had still not won the 8-hour workday.

The deep anger felt by working people across Colorado in response to decades of exploitation continued to fester. As East Coast capitalists like John D. Rockefeller, Jr. consolidated power over the Colorado mining industry, workers recognized that their hard labor was making a small layer extremely wealthy.

The United Mine Workers (UMW), which had successfully organized coal miners stretching from Pennsylvania through the Midwest, had now moved in to organize the Colorado. In mid 1913, Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. (CFI) refused to negotiate with a fairly moderate set of demands from the UMW that called for an 8-hour work day, the elimination of company guards in company towns, and payment for “dead work,” like laying railroad track, cutting wood, etc.

The UMW sent a handful of miners to attend the State Federation of Labor convention in Trinidad, Colorado, held in mid-August. One, Gerald Lippiatt, was shot and killed on the streets of Trinidad by two agents in the employ of Baldwin-Felts, a private security outfit of spies and thugs. The two were not arrested, and fury amongst miners spread. Non-union miners in northern Colorado announced that they would strike with the southern workers if a call was issued.

The UMW held a special convention on September 15. The legendary labor organizer “Mother” Mary Harris Jones—a veteran of organizing coal miners in West Virginia, as well as in the Colorado Labor Wars of 1903 and 1904—advocated passionately in favor of a mass strike action, rousing workers to their feet in a raucous standing ovation. Workers overwhelmingly approved a strike for the next week.

The demands that came out of the convention were more radical than those originally proposed by the UMW. A seven-point plan included the abolition of the company towns, the establishment of a pay scale, payment for dead work, the presence of a union-elected “weighman” at all times, an 8-hour workday for all laborers, full enforcement of Colorado labor laws, and union recognition.

The strike began on September 23,1913. CFI promptly evicted from company towns all striking miners, who were forced to set up tent cities using resources provided by the UMW. Soon 12,000 miners, or 85 percent of all coal workers in Colorado, were on strike. Strikers wore red bandanas around their necks and referred to them as “badges of courage.” Production was shut down almost entirely.

Violence began in early October, when striking miners running away from a rifle-toting company marshal shot and killed him. Retaliatory skirmishes between company spies, marshals and workers broke out. The company agents began a practice that they would maintain throughout the strike: armed men would ride near strikers’ tent cities, shining floodlights across the tents and firing random rifle shots indiscriminately through tent walls, constantly terrorizing strikers and their families, and occasionally killing.

 

 

BeshoarCamp Beshoar

 

 

On October 18, a group of strikers had gathered outside of the Forbes tent colony to discuss what to do about the nighttime attacks. Officers gathered near them in a police car, and one amongst their number approached the workers. After speaking with the workers for a moment, the officer turned and ran towards the other officers, who commenced to open fire in an obviously planned-out maneuver. One striker, Luke Vehernic, was hit in the face and killed.

Shortly after, the company thugs and police unveiled the “Death Special,” an armored car rigged with a Gatling gun. On its first trial, company agents shot at strikers and hit a young boy in the legs. He was left in a ditch for four hours before officials allowed strikers to attend to him.

 

Death SpecialDeath Special

 

 

On October 24, three strikers were shot by agents in cold blood on Seventy Street in Walsenburg, approximately 12 miles north of Trinidad. In retaliation, strikers tore out the track of the Colorado and Southern Railroad—also owned by CFI. One mine guard died in the skirmish that ensued. The same week armed strikers began to attack mines at Tabasco, Hastings, Berwind, and Delagua.

On October 28, after miners successfully turned away a Colorado & Southern train full of thugs and ammunition, Governor Ammons agreed to dispatch 1,000 National Guardsmen under General John Chase. The CFI provided the National Guard with furnished homes, cars, and free company credit. When the Guard arrived in the coalfields, however, very few workers surrendered their arms. Out of 1,200 people in the Ludlow camp, for example, only 37 men gave up their weapons.

After arriving, General Chase put in place martial law. Assembly was forbidden in streets and in public. The courts were largely relinquished of their power to try prisoners. This power now rested solely with General Chase and his army. Los Animas and Huerfano Counties now belonged to the CFI, the smaller mining companies, and their two armies—the National Guard and the company mine guards.

In November, Governor Ammons and Wilson’s Secretary of Labor, William Wilson, proposed a deal that did not address any of the grievances of the strikers, did not recognize the union, and did not include any wage increases. The strikers rejected the measure overwhelmingly, despite the freezing cold temperatures and the constant terrorism by company thugs, Death Special and the National Guard.

Mother Jones—then a frail but fierce 82 years old—returned to Trinidad to support the striking workers. Immediately, on January 4, 1914 National Guardsmen arrested the old woman and sent her on a train back to Denver. One week later Jones returned and was promptly put under arrest at San Rafael Hospital.

On January 21, hundreds of local women—some strikers, some supporters—marched through Trinidad in support of Mother Jones. When they turned down Main Street towards the hospital, they found that Gen. Chase had formed a cavalry blockade across the street. As troops pressed forwards against the women, Chase’s horse bumped against a young girl. The horse bucked, throwing Chase to the ground. The women roared with laughter, and the furious Chase rose and yelled for his troops to “ride down the women.” The cavalry attacked the women with their sabers and gave several deep sword cuts.

On April 19, 1914, Eastern Orthodox Easter for many of the miners, the strikers and their families at the Ludlow tent city were content that the coldest months were behind them. They spent the day picnicking, dancing, singing, and playing baseball. They slept late the next morning.

Early on April 20, the National Guard, led by Major General Patrick Hamrock, coaxed strike leader Louis Tikas out of the camp to discuss the contents of a forged note that claimed strikers had kidnapped a townsperson. When Tikas reached the Guardsmen, soldiers moved with a Gatling gun to Water Tower Hill—a slightly-raised point located some hundreds of yards away from the strikers’ tent city— and opened fire on the tent village below.

 

TankWater Tank Hill [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

Months earlier, strikers had dug a seven-foot deep hole underneath a tent so that children and pregnant women would have a place to hide when agents and guardsmen carried out their random shootings. Under fire again, many women and children ran to hide in the shelter.

National Guard reinforcements arrived within an hour. Other strikers’ tent cities were in communication with Ludlow, but were told by Tikas to stay and defend their camps.

Workers were forced to retreat, and company agents and guardsmen began to set fire to the tents in Ludlow. Fires raged, destroying the city. The remaining inhabitants of the tents began to flee across a field to the East.

Eleven children and two mothers were caught in the cellar beneath a burning tent. Among the dead were Patricia Valdez and four of her children: Elvira, 3 months old; Mary, 7; Eulalia, 8; and Rudolph, 9. Three Petrucci children were killed as well: Frank, 6; Joe, 4; and Lucy, 2. Two Pedregone children also died. Rogerio was six; Cloriva was 4. Fedelina Costa died with her two children, Onafrio, 6; and Lucy, 4. The father, Charles Costa, was also shot in the attack that day. Their bodies were left to rot in the “Death Pit”, as it became known, for days.

 

 

gravestoneCosta gravestone [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

Louis Tikas and UMW Secretary James Fyler ran back to the tents to rescue the women and children stuck in the safety bunker. They were captured on the way. Lieutenant Linderfelt promptly broke the butt of his rifle over Tikas’ head, and then shot him three times in the back. Fyler was found with one bullet hole in his head. The two of them were dragged.

For three days the agents and Guardsmen closed off the massacre area and refused admittance to anybody not affiliated with the CFI—even the Red Cross was prevented from entering the camp for 48 hours. The bodies of Tikas and Tyler were displayed on the side of the railroad tracks, where they could serve as warnings for the workers of the area passing through by train. They were only moved when railroad workers objected. “For God’s sake,” they insisted, “they are human souls and deserving of decent burial.”

 

 

destructionLudlow destruction

 

 

The events of April 20 would galvanize a movement that over the next 10 days would come to be one of the most militant in American history. Word spread of the massacre, and workers sought revenge.

The response was overwhelming. Railroad workers refused to take troops from Trinidad to Ludlow. In Colorado Springs, 300 miners walked out, armed themselves, and set off for Ludlow. Phone lines were cut. The Denver Cigar Makers Union took a vote and sent five hundred men with weapons to Ludlow and Trinidad. Four hundred women in the United Garment Workers Union volunteered to help the strikers as nurses.

Under the direction of Lieutenant Governor Stephen Fitzgarrald, the National Guard attempted to regroup and raise a new force. Though Gen. Chase and others wanted 600 men, they could only manage a force of 350—far smaller than the strikers’ army of 1,200. Eighty-two of the soldiers ordered to go refused. A newspaper reported that “[t]he men declared they would not engage in the shooting of women and children. They hissed the 350 men who did start and shouted imprecations at them.”

Hundreds of armed miners organized in military groupings and set out to punish the mine thugs. Wielding banners and pickets that advocated worker control of the coalmines, their rallying cries were “burn the bastards out of the state,” and “Remember Ludlow!”

 

 

minersStriking armed miners

 

 

On April 22, after workers had regrouped in the Black Hills and shared their stories with one another, the miners attacked the Empire Mine near Aguilar. Ironically, mine owners and their families retreated into the mine pit in an act of desperation. Miners, unlike their counterparts, released the women and children, and did not fire upon the trapped mine owners. They were released after two days when the strikers moved on to attack another mine.

Subsequently, miners moved out to attack Delagua, Tabasco, Berwind, Rouse, Primrose, Broadheds, and several other mining operations. On April 23, the company agents and National Guard began a counter attack, hitting Aguilar and Ludlow. On the 25th, they struck the Chandler mine facility, which was held by workers.

Shortly after the massacre in Ludlow, 5,000 demonstrated in Denver, asking the Governor to resign over the treatment of the workers. Thousands more attended funeral processions through Trinidad. On April 27, Louis Tikas was buried as workers attacked and took over four more mines, including the Walsen Mine. Gen. Chase was forced to send 100 troops into Boulder County, as workers much farther north joined in the mine attacks. Days later, the 11 children and 2 women whose remains were found charred in the Death Pit were carried through Trinidad in a convoy of tiny caskets.

 

 

funeralTikas' funeral

 

 

On April 28, at the request of Gov. Ammons, President Wilson sent in 1,000 troops from the US Cavalry to Las Animas and Huerfano counties. There were fears that the insurrection could spread to other states, including Michigan, where thousands of copper miners were also on strike.

“With the deadliest weapons of civilization in the hands of savage-minded men, there can be no telling to what lengths the war will go in Colorado unless it is quelled by force,” the New York Times wrote. “The President should turn his attention from Mexico long enough to take stern measures in Colorado.”

But before the US Cavalry arrived, a large group of strikers marched north to Walsenburg, where they set up a perimeter and took over a hill overlooking the town. They fought off a three-day attack from company thugs, and attacked the Forbes mining operation. On April 29, they captured four scabs and guards, whom they later released. Four strikers and ten company thugs were killed in the battle at Walsenburg.

With federal troops in the area to get the mines running again, the strike faded out. Finally, on December 10, 1914, the UMW abandoned the strike, and the strikers were left without work, without homes. The UMW attempted to halt the mine takeovers and defuse the situation.

Sixty-six strikers and family members were killed. Not a single company thug or National Guardsman spent a night in jail.

 

 

strikersLudlow strikers

 

 

Fueled by public outcry in response to the Ludlow Massacre, the Commission on Industrial Relations (also known as the Walsh Commission) subpoenaed John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to respond to claims that his company was responsible for the violence in southern Colorado. Rockefeller blamed outside organizers for the strike.

Although the findings of the Walsh Commission in response to Rockefeller’s testimony brought national attention to the actions of CFI and the National Guard in southern Colorado, ultimately no government action was taken against Rockefeller or those directly responsible for the Ludlow Massacre.

The historical impact of the Walsh Commission (which published its final reports in 1916) is subject to much debate among historians, but the conclusions released on the subject of poor industrial and agricultural working conditions played a part in the Democratic Party’s turn towards welfare capitalism over the subsequent decades.

In fact, the commission itself put forward the position that closer coordination would be needed between labor and big business in order to subdue the threat of social upheaval:

 

“Where (labor) organization is lacking, dangerous discontent is found on every hand; low wages and long hours prevail; exploitation in every direction is practiced; the people become sullen, have no regard for law and government, and are, in reality, a latent volcano, as dangerous to society as are the volcanoes of nature to the landscape surrounding them.”

 

 

In 1916, the UMW purchased a 40-acre site that included the former spot of the Ludlow tent colony, and two years later, the union built a small memorial to commemorate the lives of those killed in the massacre. The United States Secretary of the Interior added the memorial to the National Registry of Historical Places in 1985, and in 2009, the Ludlow Monument was designated a National Historical Landmark 

 

 

monument

The monument in Ludlow [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

The monument serves as a testament to the bravery of the striking miners and their families. It also serves as a warning to workers today, reminding of the lengths capitalists will go to defend their property and profits.

A WSWS reporting team visited the site in early April, 2012.

The monument itself (renovated in recent years) is stark in its austere portrayal of the lives that were lost in the massacre. The site is situated 15 miles north of Trinidad on a flat, quiet prairie located approximately one mile west of Interstate 25 in Las Animas County. A small plot of land next to the site of the original tent colony has been turned into a gathering place for visitors, the center of which is a small fenced area with a lone 20-foot tall granite pillar. Standing next to the pillar, a severe looking miner gazes resolutely into the distance. A woman leans with closed eyes by his side, holding a small child her arms.

 

 

memorialThe memorial statue [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

These figures seem to represent both survivor and victim—the man’s face reveals his fury, his eyes squint with disgust. The woman, leaning against her arm and protecting her child with her shoulder, remembers the fellow mothers who were killed by the thugs and guardsmen. Together, the family seems to stand as an icon for the American working class; they are beaten down, hungry, and brutalized, but they retain—in spite of all odds—their strength, their pride, and their staunch determination to bring an end to the injustice they face. They stand for the living memory of the events that took place nearly 100 years ago: the memory of the victims, of the perpetrators, and of the bravery of those who fought back.

The pillar stands only feet from the entryway to the Death Pit—the cellar in which 11 women and children were trapped and killed by the blazes set by the company thugs and National Guard. Few words can describe the claustrophobia that one feels when descending the steps into the dark, damp hole. The ceiling is low, and there is barely room to move. It is difficult to avoid thinking about the faces of the women and small children as they must have struggled to free themselves from the pit. One thinks too of the looks on the faces of the guardsmen as they rode through, setting the tents ablaze.

 

 

Death Pit

Death pit [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

Beyond the pillar and the Death Pit, the dry, brown prairie stretches for miles. To the west and east, small outcroppings of hills block the horizon—the hills to which miners and their families fled on April 20th, 1914 and hid in the subsequent days as they regrouped, sharing stories of the terrors they witnessed.

Railroad tracks, still transporting coal to the northern mills, run alongside the camp. Two hundred yards along the tracks one can see Water Tank Hill, the slightly-raised spot from which guardsmen began shooting machine gun rounds into the camp on the morning of the 20th.

 

 

viewThe view from Water Tank Hill [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

Situated next to the monument lies a large plot with no shrubs or chaparral—this is the now empty spot of the Ludlow tent colony. All that remains is a caved-in wooden pump house, the same structure that provided the striking miners with water through the long, cold winter of 1913-14.

Although the memorial is an emotionally powerful tribute to the men, women, and children who were massacred in the Ludlow battle, the monument unfortunately draws an equal sign between the violence of the state and the capitalists and the resistance of the workers.

 

 

Pump HouseTent site pump house [Photo: Jozef Kubiš]

 

 

“Violence on both sides plagued the strike,” reads one passage. Another cynical panel reads: “Governor Elias Ammons called out the Colorado National Guard to keep the peace…” No explanation is offered for the actions of the Guardsmen in the subsequent massacre.

Finally, a panel lauds John D. Rockefeller for his "humanitarianism", and credits the strike as a success because it pressured Rockefeller into adopting the Rockefeller Plan of reform industrialism: “The events of the Ludlow massacre outraged the nation and embarrassed John D, Rockefeller Jr.,” it reads. “This event initiated many of the labor reforms that workers now have again to struggle for. As appeasement, Rockefeller introduced a plan that established a company sponsored union, instituted procedures to air grievances, and improved the living conditions in the company towns.”

John D. Rockefeller Jr. was not “embarrassed” into initiating reforms. He hired former Canadian Minister of Labor William Mackenzie King to carry out a massive public relations campaign to save the Rockefeller image. King and Rockefeller agreed that modest concessions would be necessary to “restore individual peace in the U.S. industries such as coal and fuel.”

In spite of these limitations, which reflect the complacent and pro-capitalist outlook of the UMW today, the memorial is well worth a visit. Emancipation of workers is impossible without workers*s blood.

Many workers who have visited the memorial have left behind written comments on the Ludlow Massacre:

3/27/11

“My father and his family lived in the area and were witnesses of the Ludlow Massacre from their hiding place in a cellar. He told the story many times of seeing some militia on horseback ride through, shooting anyone they saw.

-A miner and a miner’s son, Washington D.C.

8/5/11

“Solidarity amongst all workers is needed now more than ever to save us from the plutocracy handcuffing the human spirit. The 2-party system will enslave us all if we let it. ONLY by binding together can we defeat, stave off the great exploitation of those who work against the human family.

From Memphis to Madison, let freedom ring,

-male, Dwight, IL

9/27/11

“Orient 2 mine explosion survivor.

December, 1952, West Frankfurt, IL.

119 souls lost.

-male, for my Uncle. Thanks.

10/9/11

“This history needs to be told again and again so we don’t have to continue to bow down to the corporate oligarchs.”

-female, Reno, NV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colorado Coal Strike was one of the most violent strikes in United States History. Although they were ultimately defeated, the coal miners in this strike held out for 14 months in makeshift tent colonies on the Colorado prairie. The strike resulted in an estimated 66 deaths and an unknown number of wounded. Although the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) lost the Colorado Strike, it was, and still is, seen as a victory in a broad sense for the union. The Coal War was a shocking event, one that galvanized public opinion and eventually came to symbolize the wave of industrial violence that lead to the "progressive" era reforms in labor relations.

 

The UMWA made its first appearance in the Western States in 1900 with a strike in Gallup, New Mexico. In 1903, the UMWA led a strike in the Colorado coalfields. This strike was successful in the Northern Field, around Louisville and Boulder, but failed in the South. In 1910, the Northern operators refused to renew the contract and the miners struck for the next 3 years. In September 1913 the UMWA, which had secretly been organizing the Southern Field, announced a strike there when the operators would not meet a list of seven demands, such as: recognition of the union; an 8-hour work day; the right to elect their own check-weighmen; payment for "dead work;" a 10 percent increase in wages on the tonnage rates; the right to trade in any store, choose their own doctors, and choose their own boarding places; and enforcement of Colorado mining laws and abolition of the company guard system.

Approximately 90 percent of the workforce struck, about 10-12,000 miners and their families. Those who lived in the camps were evicted, and on September 23rd the striker families hauled their possessions through rain and snow out of the canyons to about a dozen sites rented in advance by the UMWA to house them. The UMWA organized the strikers into tent colonies, which were located at strategic spots covering the entrances to the canyons, in order to intercept strikebreakers. The galleries listed above document the Ludlow tent colony, one of the largest tent colonies that was established during the strike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon, a passing freight train stopped near the camp and allowed many miners and their families to escape to east to an area known as the ‘Black Hills’. After many hours of exchanging fire with the militiamen, the camps main organiser, Louis Tikas met with Lieutenant Linderfelt (the officer in charge of the National Guard assault on the Ludlow camp) to arrange a truce. Linderfelt hit Tikas with the butt of his rifle and soldiers fired several times into his back as he lay on the ground, killing him outright.

That evening, under cover of darkness, the militiamen entered the camp and set fire to tents, killing two women and eleven children who were sheltering from the shooting in a pit below a tent, thirteen other people were also shot dead during the fighting.

As news of the massacre spread, workers from around the country went on strike to show solidarity with the remaining miners on strike in Colorado and to express sympathy for those who had lost loved ones in Ludlow. Several cities in the state were taken over and occupied by miners and some National Guard units even laid down their arms and refused to fight.

However, the workers failed to obtain their demands along with union recognition and many were replaced with non-union workers. No National Guardsmen was ever prosecuted over the killings, even though sixty-six people had been killed by the time violence ended.

In 1918 a monument was erected to commemorate those who died during the strike. These individuals all died in the Ludlow Massacre, and are inscribed on the monument as follows:

Louis Tikas, age: 30 years
James Fyler, age: 43 years
John Bartolotti, age: 45 years
Charlie Costa, age: 31 years
Fedelina Costas, age: 27 years
Onafrio Costa, age: 4 years
Frank Rubino, age: 23 years
Patria Valdez, age: 37 years
Eulala Valdez, age: 8 years
Mary Valdez, age: 7 years
Elvira Valdez, age: 3 months
Joe Petrucci, age: 4 ½ years
Lucy Petrucci, age: 2 ½ years
Frank Petrucci, age: 4 months
William Snyder Jr, age: 11 years
Rodgerlo Pedregone, age: 6 years
Cloriva Pedregone, age: 4 year

 

 

Prelude to the Massacre


The massacre was preceded by a period of increasing tensions. Based on their experience of past strikes, the UMWA leadership sought to keep the strike peaceful in order to avoid the state calling out the militia. In contrast, the coal companies wanted the militia to be called out. The coal companies and their private detectives (the Baldwin-Felts Company from West Virginia) initiated a campaign of harassment in order to goad the strikers into violence. This campaign included shooting up tent colonies with the "Death Special," an improvised armored car, lighting up the tent colonies with searchlights at night, and intimidating strikers and their sympathizers.


 

 

The "Death Special." This was an improvised armored car built by private detectives using the CFI plant in Pueblo.

 

 

 

Militia

Escalating violence in the strike zone and pressure from the coal companies led to Governor Ammons calling out the militia in October 1913. Most of the militia leadership was sympathetic to the coal companies. This, combined with a number of other factors, led to the militia becoming compromised and essentially indistinguishable from the coal company mine guards and private detectives.

 

 

 

Militia 2

By calling out the national Guard, the financial burden the conflict was creating shifted from the mine operators to the state. However, the financial straits of the state were dire, and the neutrality of the militia quickly became compromised. It soon degenerated into little more than a strike-breaking force. As the cost of supporting a force of 695 men and 397 officers in the field bankrupted the state, all but two of the militia companies were withdrawn after six months. The militia companies that remained were primarily made up of mine guards, previously enlisted by General Chase.

 

 

 

 

Refugees

Refugees from the colony fled to friendly ranchers or to the nearby Black Hills, eventually making their way to Trinidad, where they were sheltered by the many sympathetic townspeople there. The bodies of the people killed at Ludlow were buried in Trinidad.

 

 

 

 

The 10 - Day War

When news of the Ludlow Massacre got out, striking miners at other tent colonies went to war. For 10 days, they attacked and destroyed mines and fought pitched battles with mine guards and the militia along a 40-mile front from Trinidad to Walsenburg. The fighting ceased only after the desperate governor of Colorado asked for Federal intervention.

 

 

 

These pictures show the strikers' military headquarters at Camp Beshoar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Talk

 

Pearl Jolly says that after she escaped from the blazing tents at Ludlow, she spent the night with a crowd of children, out of bullet-shot, in the cellar of Baye's ranch, a mile away. The next morning she crept up to the telephone to listen for news. And this is what she heard:

Mrs. Curry, the wife of the company's physician at the Hastings mine, was talking with Mrs. Cameron, the wife of the mine superintendent.

"Well, what do you think of yesterday's work?" she said.

"Wasn't that fine!"

"They got Fyler and Tikas."

"Wasn't that fine!"

"The dirty old tent-colony is burnt down, and we know of twenty-eight of the dirty brutes we've roasted alive down there."

Later she heard two men discussing the same subject.

"We have all the important ones we wanted now," they agreed, "except John Lawson and the Weinburg boys."

Pearl Jolly is a cool, clever and happy-hearted American girl, the wife of a miner. She stood in her tent making egg sandwiches for the people in the holes, while bullets clattered the glassware to the floor on all sides of her.

"Tikas asked me if I was afraid to stay," she said. "I was, but I stayed."

When Pearl Jolly tells you exactly what she heard over the telephone, correcting you if you misplace a monosyllable, it is difficult to retain the incredulity proper to an impartial investigator. But still it is possible, for the thing she heard is a shade too barbarous to believe. The quality of cruelty is a little strained. And so I shook hands with Pearl Jolly and hastened away from her honest face, in order to do my duty of disbelieving.

Subsequently I heard with my own ears, not from professional gunmen or plug-uglies, but from the nicest ladies of Trinidad, sentiments quite equal in Christian delicacy to those she plucked out of the telephone. And I quote these sentiments verbatim here because they prove, as no legal narrative ever can prove, where lay the cause of the massacre of Ludlow, in whose hearts the deliberate plan of that Indian orgy was hatched.

A visit to the general manager of the Victor American Company, an introduction from him to his superintendents, Snodgrass at Delagua and Cameron at Hastings, a charming and judicial lecture from these gentlemen, had netted us nothing more than a smile at the smoothness with which a murder business can be conducted. Not an armed man was in sight as we drove into the camp, not a question asked at the gate, everything wide open and free as the prairie. Did we wish to see the superintendent? Oh, yes — his name was Snodgrass. We had mislaid our letter of introduction? Well, it would hardly matter at all, because in fact the general manager happened to be telephoning this morning and he mentioned our coming.

So began a most genial conversation as to the humane efforts of the companies to conduct the strike fairly and without aggression upon their side, whatever indiscretions might be committed by the miners. I had just come up from the black acre at Ludlow, where I had counted twenty-one bullet holes in one wash-tub, and yet when that Snodgrass assured me that there had been no firing on the tent-colony at all I was within a breath of believing him. There are such men in the world, mixing cruelty and lies with a magnetic smile, and most of them out of politics are superintendents of labor camps.

So we learned nothing to corroborate Mrs. Jolly from the company's men — except, perhaps, an accidental remark of Mr. Cameron's "town marshal,"A. W. Brown, that the strikers got so obstreperous last fall that he "really had to plant a few of 'em" — a remark we may set down to the vanity of one grown old as a gunman in the company's service. Excepting that, the men behaved as men of the world have learned to behave under the eyes of the press.

And for this reason we turned to the women.

We secured from the librarian at Trinidad a sort of social register of the town's elite. We selected — and "we" at this point means Elsa Euland, who was representing the Independent — selected and invited to a cup of afternoon coffee at the Hotel Corinado a dozen of the most representative ladies of the elegance of the town. And as the town's elegance rests exclusively upon a foundation of mining stock, these ladies were also representative of the sentiment of the mine-owners in general.

There was Mrs. McLoughlin, who is Governor Ammon's sister and the wife of an independent mine-owner — an active worker also in the uplift or moral betterment of the miners' wives.

There was Mrs. Howell, whose husband is manager of the Colorado Supply Company, operating the "Company Stores," of which we have heard so much.

Mrs. Stratton, whose husband heads a commercial college in Trinidad.

Mrs. Rose, whose husband is superintendent of the coal railroad that runs up from Ludlow field into the Hastings mine.

Mrs. Chandler, the Presbyterian minister's wife.

Mrs. Northcutt, the wife of the chief attorney for the coal companies, the owner also of the bitterest anti-labor newspaper of those counties, the Chronicle-News.

One or two others were there, but these furnished the evidence. And they furnished it with such happy volubility to our sympathetic ears, and note-books, that I feel no hesitation in reproducing their words exactly as I copied them there.

"You have been having a regular civil war here, haven't you?" we asked.

"It was no war at all," said Mrs. McLoughlin. "It was as if I had my home and my children, and somebody came in from the outside and said, 'Here, you have no right to your children — we intend to get them out of your control' — And I tell you I'd take a gun, if I could get one, and I'd fight to defend my children!"

A mild statement, by what was to follow, but to my thinking a significant one. For what exists in those mining camps — incorporated towns of Colorado, with a United States post office and a public highway, all located within a gate called "Private Property" — what exists there, is a state of feudal serfdom. The miners belong to the mine-owners in the first place, and what follows from that.

"Then you attribute the fighting," I said, "solely to these agitators who come in here where they don't belong and start trouble?"

"Just these men who came in here and raised a row. There was nothing the matter. We had a pretty good brotherly feeling in the mines before they came."

"Yes," Said Mrs. Northcutt, "I've had a hired girl from the mining camps tell me how much money the miners get — but they never save a cent. 'I tell you we live high,' she would say, 'we buy the very best canned goods we can get.'"

"Yes — the men who are willing to work make five and six dollars a day. Of course the lazy ones don't. But the majority of them in the Delagua camp just simply cried when the strike was called! They didn't want to go out."

"Isn't that strange," I said."How do you account for 80 or 90 per cent of them going out when they didn't want to?"

"Well, the union compelled them — that's all. You know all the good miners have left here now. That is always the way in a strike. The better class go on to other fields."

"Then you feel that the low character of the strikers themselves is what made it possible for these trouble-makers to succeed here?"

"That's it exactly — they are ignorant and lawless foreigners, every one of them that caused the trouble. I've thought if only we could have a tag, and tag all the foreigners so you could recognize them at a glance — I believe if Roosevelt were here he'd deport them."

This subject of the native iniquity of every person not born on American soil was then tossed from chair to chair for the space of about an hour. It is the common opinion in Trinidad society. We even heard it voiced by a Swedish lady of wealth, who had herself been less than ten years in America.

"Americans, you know, won't work in the mines at all."

"I wonder why that is."

"Well, I don't know. They don't want to go under ground, I suppose," was one answer. Another was:

"These people are ignorant, you see, and that's why they will do the menial work."

"I see," I said.

"And you must understand that our town was absolutely turned over to these people for a week. They were armed with guns and singing their war songs in the streets. The policemen knew they could do nothing and stayed home. I kept my children in the basement."

"Was the larger part of the town sympathetic to the strikers?"

"Well, those of us who weren't sympathetic thought best either to keep still or pretend we were!"

"I understand. And what did they do?"

"Had control of the town, that's all! And don't hesitate to say that we didn't have any mayor."

"What became of your mayor?"

"The mayor received some letters and he was called suddenly away, that's what became of him! And the sheriff — they say he went to Albuquerque for his wife's health — but his wife stayed at home."

"You know our church is right next door to the union headquarters, and on Sunday morning there was such a crowd of these people around there that we couldn't get to church. I wasn't going to pick my way through these people to get to church" — this is the minister's wife speaking — "so I called up the chief of police and asked him to clear the street. He said he had no authority, it was a county matter. So I called up the sheriff's office, and they said they couldn't do it. Finally we had to call up the labor union secretary himself!"

"Has the church done anything to try to help these people, or bring about peace?" we asked.

"I think it's the most useless thing in the world to attempt it," she answered. And there followed the story, which I had also from a priest himself, of how a Catholic father was reported as a scab and compelled to stop preaching because he taught that "idleness is the root of evil," and tried to advise the men to return to work.

"Christianity could prevail, of course," was her conclusion, "but we haven't enough of it."

"You haven't a spiritual leader in the community, have you?" said the least tactful of us.

"We haven't a spiritual community!" said the minister's wife.

"And how do you feel about the disaster at Ludlow?" we asked. It was Mrs. Northcutt who answered.

"I think there has been a lot of maudlin sentiment in the newspapers about those women and children. There were only two women, and they make such a fuss about those two! It was their own fault, anyway."

"You mean that the papers are to blame for all the trouble they have caused?"

"The sensational papers," she added. "They're looking for something to sell their papers, that's all."

"I guess that's true," I said, and thanked God they were.

"The worst that has come out of this strike," Mrs. Northcutt continued, "is the way those poor militia boys have been treated. They've just had abuse heaped upon them. Yes, my heart has felt very sore for those boys who came down here full of patriotic feelings!"

"And General Chase certainly was a fine man," said another, "one of the Lord's own! Do you know that at the time they broke up the Mother Jones parade a woman stuck her hatpin in the general's horse, and the horse threw him off?"

"That was just it — the low things they would do!" came the refrain. "And he hasn't a bit of cowardice in him. He rode around all day just the same! I tell you the soldiers behaved themselves nobly down here."

"And yet people object," said Mrs. Stratton, "because they occasionally got drunk — didn't General Grant get drunk? Did they expect a lot of angels to come down here and fight a lot of cattle.?"

Mrs. Stratton had touched the key-word — cattle — and from that word ensued a conversational debauch of murder-wishing class-hatred of which I can only give a suggestion.

"That's it," said Mrs. Rose, "they're nothing but cattle, and the only way is to kill them off."

I think one of us winced a little at this, and the speaker rested a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. "Nothing but cattle, honey!" she said.

"They ought to have shot Tikas to start with," added the minister's wife, a woman of more definite mind than the others. "That's the whole trouble. It's a pity they didn't get him first instead of last."

"You know, there's a general belief around here," she continued, "that those women and children were put in that hole and sealed up on purpose because they were a drain on the union."

"Yes, those low people, they'll stoop to anything," agreed Mrs. Northcutt.

"They're brutal, you know," continued the minister's wife. "They simply don't regard human life. And they're ignorant. They can't read or write. They don't know anything. They don't even know the Christmas story!"

"Is that possible!" I gasped.

"Yes, sir; there was a little girl, one of the daughters of a miner, and she was asked on Christmas day what day it was, and she said, 'Well, it's somebody's birthday, but I've forgotten whose!'"

"All you ladies, I suppose, are members of the church?" we asked in conclusion.

"Oh, yes; all of us."

"Well — we are glad to have met you all and found out the true cause of the trouble," we said.

And here I turned to Mrs. Rose — whose word comes, remember, straight from the mine above Ludlow. "What do you seriously think," I said, "is the final solution of this problem?"

"Kill 'em off — that's all," she answered with equal seriousness.

So that is how I returned to my original faith in Pearl Jolly's story of what she heard over the telephone. And when she tells me that while she was assisting in lifting twelve corpses out of that black pit, the soldiers of the National Guard stood by insulting her in a manner that she will not repeat, and one of them said, "Sorry we didn't have more in there for you to take out," I believe that, too.

When a train despatcher at Ludlow and his assistant both assure me that at 9:20 A. M. on Monday, the 23d of April, from their office, square in front of the two military camps, they saw and heard the militia fire the first shot, and that the machine guns were trained directly on the tent-colony from the start, although never a shot was fired from the colony all day, I believe that.

This "Battle of Ludlow" has been portrayed in the best of the press as a " shooting-up" of the tent-colony by soldiers from a distance, while armed miners "shot-up" the soldiers to some extent, also, from another distance.

The final burning and murder of women and children has been described as a semi-accidental consequence, due perhaps to irresponsible individuals.

I want to record my opinion, and that of my companions in the investigation, that this battle was from the first a deliberate effort of the soldiers to assault the tent-colony, with purpose to burn, pillage and kill, and that the fire of the miners with their forty rises from a railroad cut and an arroyo on two sides of the colony was the one and only thing that held off that assault and massacre until after dark. It was those forty rises that enabled as many of the women and children to escape as did escape.

Every person in and in the vicinity of the colony reports the training of machine guns on women and children as targets in the open field. Mrs. Low, whose husband kept a pump-house for the railroad near the tent-colony, tells me that she had gone to Trinidad the day of the massacre. She came back at 12:45, alighted at a station a mile away, and started running across the prairie to save her little girl whom she had left alone in a tiny white house exactly in the line of fire. They trained a machine gun on her as she ran there.

"I had bought six new handkerchiefs in Trinidad," she said, "and I held them up and waved them for truce flags, but the bullets kep' coming. They come so thick my mind wasn't even on the bullets, hut I remember they struck the dust and sent it up in my face. Finally some of the strikers saw I was going right on into the bullets — I was bound to save my little girl — and they risked their lives to run out from the arroyo and drag me down after them. I didn't know where my baby was, or whether she was alive, till four-thirty that afternoon."

Her baby, as I learned, had run to her father in the pump-house at the first fire, and had been followed in there by a rain of .48-calibre bullets, one of which knocked a pipe out of her father's hand while she was trying to persuade him to be alarmed. He carried her down into the well and they stayed there until nightfall, when a freight train stopped in the line of fire and gave them a chance to run up the arroyo where the mother was hiding.

This has all grown very easy for me to believe since that bloody conversation over the coffee cups. And when citizens of Trinidad testify that they saw troops of armed soldiers marching through on their way to Ludlow at midnight of the night before the massacre, that too, and all that it implies, is easy to believe. It prepares one's mind for the testimony of Mrs. Toner, a French woman with five children, who lay all day in a pit under her tent, until the tent was "just like lace from the bullets." At dark she heard a noise "something like paper was blowing around."

"I looked out then, and the whole back of my tent was blazing, with me under it, and my children. I run to a Mexican tent next door, screaming like a woman that had gone insane. I was fainting, and Tikas caught me and threw water in my face. I was so thrubled up, I says,'My God, I forgot one, I forgot one!' and I was going back. And Mrs. Jolly told me, 'It's all right. They're all here.' And I heard the children crying in that other hole, the ones that died, and Mrs. Costa crying, 'Santa Maria, have mercy!' and I heard the soldier say, 'We've got orders to kill you and we're going to do it!"

"'We've got plenty of ammunition, just turn her loose, boys' they said.

"Oh, I tell you, that was one of the saddest things was ever went through! When I was lying in my tent there, Mr. Snyder come running in to me with his two hands out just like this. 'Oh, my God, Mis' Toner,' he said, 'my boy's head's blown off. My God, if your children won't lay down, just knock 'em down rather'n see 'em die.' He was just like wild.

"I didn't like to say it before the children — but I was going to have this baby in a day or two, and when I got to that tent I was having awful pains and everything. And there I had to run a mile across the prairie with my five children in that condition. You talk about the Virgin Mary, she had a time to save her baby from all the trouble, and I thought to myself I was havin' a time, too.

"He was born in a stable, I says, but mine come pretty near bein' born in a prairie. Look at him — I had everything nice for him, and here he's come, and he didn't have hardly a shirt to his name."

Mrs. Toner sat up languidly from a dark and aching bed in a tiny rented room in Trinidad.

"I lost everything," she said. "All my jewelry. A $35 watch and $8 chain my father gave me when he died. A $3 charm I'd bought for my husband. My fountain pen, spectacles, two hats that cost $10 and $7, my furs, a brown suit, a black one, a blue shirt-waist, a white one — well, just everything we had left. I don't believe the Turks would have been half so mean to us."

"Whom do you blame for it?"

"Do you know who I blame? Linderfelt, Chase and Governor Ammons — I think one of 'em as bad as the other. If Linderfelt had got any of my children I bet I'd have got him by and by. But then it's the coal companies, too, for that matter — if they wouldn't hire such people.

"They searched my tent eight different times, tore up the floor, went through all my trunks, and drawers. One of the dirty men asked me for a kiss. I picked up my iron handle, and I says, 'If you ask me that again I'll hit you between the teeth.

"If they hadn't brought those bloodhounds in here there'd have been no trouble. They started it on us every time. They'd often threatened to burn it up, you know, but we said, 'Oh, that's just talk.'

"Look at him! I tell you it's a wonder he was born at all!

"Just the same I'd go through the same performance again before I'd scab. I'd see the rope first. I was the first woman in that colony and I was the last one out — alive. They took my husband up to the mine, and offered him $300 a month to run a machine. He'd been getting $2.95 a day before, and they offered to pay up his back debts at the store, too.

" 'You'll need a wash-tub to come after your pay,' they said.

"'Yes,' he said, 'why didn't you offer me that before the strike?'

"Oh, we ain't bluffed out at all — only I'll never go back and live in a tent. I brought my children out alive and I'm going to keep 'em alive.

"You know the children run cryin' when they see a yellow suit — even the Federals. All yellow suits look alike to them!"

I have trusted Mrs. Toner's own words to convey, better than I could, the spirit of the women on strike. But I wish I could add to that a portrait of the young Italian mother, Mrs. Petrucci, who survived her babies in that death-hole at Ludlow — sweet, strong, slender-fingered, exquisite Italian Mother-of-God! If there is more fineness or more tenderness in the world than dwells in those now pitifully vague and wandering eyes, I have lived without finding it.

It would be both futile and foolish, I suppose, to pretend that there is hatred, ignorant hatred of dwarfed and silly minds, only upon the "capital" side of this struggle. Yet I must record my true conviction, that the purpose to shoot, slaughter, and burn at Ludlow was absolutely deliberate and avowed in the mines and the camps of the militia; that it was an inevitable outcome of the temper of contemptuous race and class-hatred, the righteous indignation of the slave-driver, with which these mine-owners met the struggle of their men for freedom; and that upon the strikers' side is to be found both more of the gentleness and more of the understanding that are supposed to be fruits of civilization, than upon the mine-owners'. It will be granted, perhaps, even by those who love it, that our system of business competition tends to select for success characters with a fair admixture of cruel complaisance, and that those excessively weighted with human love or humility gravitate toward the bottom? At least, if this is granted to begin with, it will be heartily confirmed by the facts for anyone who visits the people of Las Animas County.

"Revenge?" said Mrs. Fyler to me — and Mrs. Fyler's husband was caught that night in the tent-colony unarmed, led to the track and murdered in cold blood by the soldiers — "Revenge? We might go out there and stay five years to get revenge, but it would never get us back what we lost. It would only be that much on our own heads."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINKS TO LUDLOW MASSACRE ...

 

 

Upton Sinclair

"King Coal"

(1917)

 

Which should you read, if you want to know more about Ludlow? Martelle has the best day-by-day account of the conflict. Andrews has the most insight into the geological, economic, and sociological forces, and he gives the context of the preceding decades in more detail than any of the others. I think both deserve the highest marks in terms of their scholarship and their accuracy. Beshoar’s father was a doctor who treated the Ludlow strikers, and the strikers named a camp after him. As a result, Beshoar’s version of events is frankly partisan, and sometimes he veers into the propagandistic. His account is one of the liveliest, though, perhaps because he tapped oral sources not available to later writers (don’t be put off by the subtitle; his book is only nominally restricted to Lawson). As you would expect, McGovern and Guttridge are very good about the politics, which got quite complex, as the federal government was brought in against the state, and as various committees undertook to investigate the mine operators and interfere with one another’s investigations in the process. Papanikolas’s is a very nice piece of writing, though a somewhat melancholy one, and he has a novelist’s eye for detail. When Papanikolas tracks down Tikas’s grave, for example, the manager of the cemetery recalls for him how he adopted a runaway St. Bernard on the day of the massacre. Later, reading testimony contemporary with the massacre, Papanikolas finds mention of a St. Bernard loose in the desolate camp carrying a burning timber in its mouth, and he wonders if he’s found the historical trace of the cemetery manager’s animal. Papanikolas’s book is worth reading as much as an essay on the historical impulse as for its account of Ludlow (like Beshoar’s, his book isn’t limited by its apparent focus on a single individual). Though I name-check King Coal in my article, it isn’t Upton Sinclair’s best novel. If you’re hell-bent on reading Sinclair, which I’m not sure you should be, read Oil! instead (and notice, when you do, that in the book, corporate power and false religiosity are hand-in-glove allies—not opponents, as in the movie—and that they are united to suppress the revolutionary force of labor, which the movie knows not of).

The Ludlow massacre and the Great Coalfield War are well documented online. The best compilation is the Colorado Coal Field War Project, produced by the University of Denver, which has a historical outline, a bibliography, photos, a historical map that links to some of the photos, and information about an archaeological exploration of the site. The Holt Labor Library of San Francisco, meanwhile, also offers a Ludlow bibliography, comprised of print and online sources. The Bessemer Historical Society, custodian of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company’s archives and legacy, has published a brief history of the company and sells several texts about mining and CFI in its store, including a reprint of Camp & Plant, the weekly run by CFI’s Sociological Department.

 

 

 

 

 

The Massacre of the Innocents

(Rocky Mountain News, 22 April 1914)

 

 

The horror of the shambles at Ludlow is overwhelming. Not since the days when pitiless red men wreaked vengeance upon intruding frontiersmen and upon their women and children has this Western country been stained with so foul a deed.

The details of the massacre are horrible. Mexico offers no barbarity so base as that of the murder of defenceless women and children by the mine guards in soldiers' clothing. Like whitened sepulchres we boast of American civilization with this infamous thing at our very doors. Huerta murdered Madero, but even Huerta did not shoot an innocent little boy seeking water for his mother who lay ill. Villa is a barbarian, but in his maddest excess Villa has not turned machine guns on imprisoned women and children.. Where is the outlaw so far beyond the pale of humankind as to burn the tent over the heads of nursing mothers and helpless little babies?

Out of this infamy one thing stands clear. Machine guns did the murder. The machine guns were in the hands of mine guards, most of whom were also members of the state militia. It was private war, with the wealth of the richest man in the world behind the mine guards.

Once and for all time the right to employ armed guards must be taken away from private individuals and corporations. To the state, and to the state alone, belongs the right to maintain peace. Anything else is anarchy. Private warfare is the only sort of anarchy the world has ever known, and armed forces employed by private interests have introduced the only private wars of modern times. This practice must be stopped. If the state laws are not strong enough, then the federal government must step in. At any cost, private warfare must be destroyed.

Who are these mine guards to whom is entrusted the sovereign right to massacre? Four of the fraternity were electrocuted recently in New York. They are the gunmen of the great cities, the offscourings of humanity, whom a bitter heritage has made the wastrels of the world. Warped by the wrongs of their own upbringing, they know no justice and they care not for mercy. They are hardly human in intelligence, and not as high on the scale of kindness as domestic animals.

Yet they are not the guilty ones. The blood of the innocent women and children rests on the hands of those who for the greed of dollars employed such men and bought such machines of murder.

The world has not been hard upon these; theirs has been a gentle upbringing. Yet they reck not of human life when pecuniary interests are involved.

The blood of the women and children, burned and shot like rats, cries aloud from the ground. The great state of Colorado has failed them. It has betrayed them. Her militia, which should have been the impartial protectors of the peace, have acted as murderous gunmen. The machine guns which played in the darkness upon the homes of humble men and women, whose only crime was an effort to earn an honest living, were bought and paid for by agents of the mine owners. Explosive bullets have been used on children. Does the bloodiest page in the French Revolution approach this in hideousness?

In the name of humanity, in the name of civilization, we have appealed to President Wilson. His ear heard the wail of the innocent, outraged and dying in Mexico. Cannot the president give heed to the sufferings of his own people? Think, Mr. President, of the captain of the strikers, Louis Tikas, whose truce with the gunmen was ended with his murder. Think of the fifty-one shots which were passed thorough the strike leader. Think of his body, which has lain exposed since his infamous killing. Then, with that vast power which has been committed to you as the executive of a great nation, attend to the misery wrought by an anarchistic lust for dollars. Without your speedy aid the poor and the needy, betrayed by the state, may be slaughtered to the last smiling babe.

 

 

 

"Mourning Pickets" Arrested Before Office Of John D., Jr.

Rocky Mountain News, 30 April 1914

 

 

New York, April 29. --Upton Sinclair, his wife and three women were arrested today after a demonstration in front of the offices of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in the Standard Oil building.

This demonstration was known as a "mourning picket," due to Rockefeller's refusal to arbitrate the situation in the Colorado coal field.

The prisoners were taken to the Old Slip police station, where Mrs. Sinclair was released. The other women, who were placed in cells, pending their arraignment in court, said they were Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman, an English suffragette, who has been in jail with Mrs. Emmaline Pankhurst; Mrs. Margaret Remington Charter and Mrs. Bonnie Leitner. All had been arrested on the sidewalk in front of 26 Broadway.

"I wasn't doing a thing but walking up and down the street with a piece of crepe on my arm," said Sinclair. "A policeman stopped me and said if I did not stop walking I would have to go along with him. I told the policeman I did not see any reason why I should stop walking, and he promptly placed me and my associates under arrest."

A woman, who said she was a Socialist, invaded the outer offices of Mr. Rockefeller and sought an interview with him in reference to the coal miners' strike in Colorado. Mr. Rockefeller's secretary told her he was busy at a conference.

The woman carried an American flag into the office and described herself as Mrs. Belle E. Zilverman. She was joined on the sidewalk by Upton Sinclair, who wore a bit of crepe on his arm in pursuance of a plan announced at a Socialist mass meeting last night, where it was agreed that "mourners" should gather in front of the Standard Oil building as a protest against the sacrifice of lives in Colorado. Mrs. Zilverman and Sinclair were the first to arrive on the scene.

Mrs. Zilverman sought to place this message before the younger Rockefeller:

"I am an American citizen, standing at your door, waiting for just a word with you. Will you grant me this request? My question will be brief and to the point."

When Mrs. Zilverman left the office, she, also, was arrested. She carried a white flag with a black border and a red heart in the center, meaning "the heart of the United States was against the workingmen."

While her husband still was locked up, Mrs. Sinclair returned to the scene of the streets and began pacing slowly in front of the big building, wearing on her sleeve a strip of crepe. Half a dozen men, sympathizers. all with crepe, walked with her.

Rockefeller remained secluded in his private office on the fourteenth floor of the building.

 

 

 

 

They were the children of working class families. They were innocent, they didn't deserve to die.

Sometimes there is evil in the world, and more often than we would like, that evil is sanctioned by authority. The children of Ludlow were killed by men dressed in the uniform of the state.

Only by banding together to fight for their rights can working people guard against the greed that fosters such hatred...

Someone—an anonymous attacker—perhaps with random rage, possibly with malice against the folks who produce the nation's wealth—has desecrated one of the most sacred monuments of the working class.

Someone in their depravity was undeterred by a glorious message proudly chiselled above the Ludlow family:

in memory of the men, women and children who lost their lives in freedom's cause...

Someone decapitated these precious granite symbols and stole away with their plunder. What sinister hatred motivates the commission of such a deed?

Yet we take comfort from what they failed to destroy. A sledge-hammer can smash granite, but it cannot extinguish the aspirations of those who unite to seek justice in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Ludlow Safety Pit Gives Up Its Dead -- Red Cross Attaches Carry Out the Charred Bodies of Women and Children.

(Rocky Mountain News, 23 April 1914)

Special to the News.

 

 

Trinidad, Colo., April 22. --The Ludlow colony, where thirteen women and children perished by fire and suffocation Monday, gave up its dead today. Red Cross attaches, entering the war zone under a flag of truce, came out with the bodies late this afternoon.

Among the dead were the family of Charles Costa, union organizer at Aguilar, and the family of Mrs. Chavez, a Mexican woman, comprising herself, two girls of 4 and 6 years old, a baby 6 months old, and a nephew, 9.

The family of Costa comprised himself, his wife and two children, Lucy, 4, and Orafrio, 6.

Under the mass of charred bedding at the bottom of the safety pit, from which all of the bodies were recovered, were also those of two children of Mrs. Marcellino Pedrigon -- Clardillo, 4, and Rogerio 6, and the three Petrucci children, Lucy, 3; Joe, 4, and Frank, 6 months.

The children were clasped in each other's arms, and over them lay the bodies of the two women, both badly charred. Both of the women were to be mothers soon.

Superficial examination of the remainder of the tents failed to disclose other dead, but it is believed more may be found.

During the visit of the searching party, John McLennan, district president of the United Mine Workers, was twice arrested, searched and escorted under guard to the headquarters of the militia at the Ludlow station. His release was ordered by Major Hamrock.

 

 

 

 

 

(Rocky Mountain News, 27 April 1914)

 

Five thousand men and women stood before the state capitol yesterday in a rain storm and raised their voices in protest against the Ludlow massacre.

Gathered under the statehouse dome, they stood two hours, rain-soaked and shivering. At intervals they burst into shouts, imprecations and cheers. It was a scene that never in the history of Colorado, possibly in the United States, has had a parallel.

At 2 o'clock the crowds began to assemble in the wind and rain-swept portico of the statehouse. Thousands had gathered a half hour later when from around a downtown corner appeared the United Mine Workers, marching under the stars and stripes and the union battle flag that on Monday floated over the now fire-swept Ludlow colony in southern Colorado.

Sing Battle Song of Labor.

A band crashed into the Marseillaise. A roar broke from the throng and with heads bare the miners came on up the drive behind their flags, singing the battle song of union labor. To the highest step of the capitol's front entrance went the flags and halted.

While the thousands stood silent, Jesse Vetter of the machinists' union clambored to a railing after the first speeches had been made and presented the demands of Colorado labor for their confirmation.

He demanded the impeachment or recall of Governor Ammons and Lieutenant Governor Fitzgarrald, the arrest for murder of Major Hamrock and Lieutenant Linderfelt, the immediate seizure of all coal properties by the state, the revocation of 13, 276 acres of state school lands now held by the coal companies, the recall of the Moyer decision, the repudiation of the $1,000,000 debt incurred by the state in sending the militia to the strike fields, and the immediate arming of every laboring man in Colorado.

Cheers Greet Proposition.

"Are you ready for the question?" shouted Vetter. A roar was his answer. "Now," he cried, and a volume of sound burst forth. "Again," he shouted, and again and again came the burst of cheers, swelling until it echoed far down town. Men threw their hats high, umbrellas were tossed in the air and women shrieked and became hysterical

The resolution in full reads:

To all people: This meeting, gathered under the open skies, cries to the world the record of industrial wrongs that found ghastly culmination in the wanton massacre of men, women and children under the burning tents of Ludlow.

There are laws upon the statutes of Colorado that guarantee to miners the eight-hour day, cash payment for work, semi-monthly paydays, the right to unionization, check weighmen and the protection of safety devices.

Absentee landlords, operating on land stolen from the school children of Colorado, their humanity stifled by avarice, have defied every one of these laws continuously and openly. More than 2,000 miners have died like rats in traps these last twenty years because dividends could not be lessened by the expense of improvements and their families, denied the right to collect damages, have been doomed to squalor and despair.

This cruel control has been obtained by the purchase of state, county and municipal officials, seizure of the election machinery, the peonage of employees, the use of hired desperadoes and the constant threat of the state militia, all to the end that justice has been crushed and a sovereign state buried in shame and disaster.

Revolt has come at last. Twelve thousand wretched men, speaking thirty-six different tongues, have found common voice in a cry of despair that shakes the world. It is to their relief that we dedicate our lives and our liberties.

We demand the instant seizure of the coal mines by the state pending an agreement between the operators and the strikers.

We demand that the leases of 13,276 acres of school land, for which the companies pay a beggarly rental, be canceled at once, and plans laid instantly for development by the state of the 473,000 acres of coal land owned by the state.

We demand a constitutional amendment repealing the infamous Moyer decision, rendered by corrupt judges to rob the humble and oppressed of their most sacred constitutional guarantees.

We demand that our legislature repudiate the $1,000,000 debt that the coal companies' use of the militia has saddled upon the state, thereby forcing capital to pay its own bills.

We brand Elias M. Ammons, governor, and S. R. Fitzgarrald, lieutenant governor, as traitors to the people and accessories to the murder of babies, and we call upon the special session of the legislature to impeach them as false to their oaths and their God, and if there be no special session, we hereby pledge ourselves to institute recall proceedings so that these servile tools of special privilege may be deprived of their power to betray and oppress.

And, lest it be thought that these are but hasty determinations that will pass with the passion of the moment, we call upon the justice loving citizens of Colorado to arm themselves so that if law and order be still be defied, we may be able to protect our homes, our loved ones and our sacred rights.

Go Back Into Rain.

As the crowd gathered and surged around the statehouse, employes threw open the doors of the chamber of the house of representatives. There was not enough room, and when leaders refused to accept any favors from the men they had gathered to denounce, the crowd again went out into the rain. Umbrellas were lifted, and those who had none turned up their collars and huddled together.

George Creel was introduced to the crowd by Charles Ahlstrom, union leader, as the first speaker, and the audience grew quiet as he climbed to a rail and began to speak.

"The martyred men, women and children of Ludlow did not die in vain," he shouted. "They have written with their blood upon the wall of the world.

"Those people like the Rockefellers, who profess Christ in public and crucify him privately, have been unmasked, and never again will the patter of prayers be permitted to excuse Judas' greed.

"Patriotism is robbed of power to befool, for the love and union of twenty-six nationalities at Ludlow have shown us that brotherhood is a finer, better word.

"Private ownership of natural resources and public utilities is seen as a thing that corrupts officials, poisons the law and makes murderers, and we will have no more of it.

Challenge From Ludlow.

"These, then, are Ludlow's challenges to those who sit in the seats of the mighty, wrapping the flag about their profits, putting their assassins in the country's uniforms, buying law and legislators, and crying out against class prejudice, even while they draw class lines with a bayonet's point.

"But is there not a message from those graves to you yourselves, O brothers, in all callings? The blood of children is on the hands of Rockefeller, Welborn, Osgood and Ammons, but can we count ourselves entirely free from blame? Is it not true that the massacre was made possible by labor's failure to appreciate labor's strength?

"Who does not know that it is in the power of workers to prevent every industrial crime and economic injustice by united action? You, whose energies turn the wheels of life, have mastery in your grasp by the exercise of no greater violence than the putting down of tools, not by groups, but as a class.

Capital's Strength in Unity.

"Look at the solidarity of capitalism! Mark the unity with which coal companies, railroads, banks and merchants have worked throughout the strike! Are we less intelligent?

"Let this solemn occasion mark regret for past failure and stern resolve for future unity. March as an army, toilers, and fear no defeat.

"Drag down such traitors as Ammons and Fitzgarrald, banish your Welborns and Osgoods, jail Chase, Hamrock and Linderfelt on the charge of murder, and pursue the Stearnses and the Johnsons into obscurity with your loathing.

"Take back the privileges that have been bribed and stolen, and let the people provide for the people.

"The instinct of self-preservation demands it. If the miners are crushed today it means that Chase and his murderers will be used to crush you tomorrow.

Life of Race Demands Action.

"The life of the race demands it. When the sordid shopkeepers of the Chamber of Commerce condone the slaughter of babes out of regard for dirty dollars, when women withdraw from a society because it is so vulgar as to cry out against the Ludlow horror, when the operators print that the strikers made no effort to save their women and children, when men in uniform find fun in murder and torture, it shows a society far on its road to rot.

"Gather, unite and advance! Destroy the evil, the unclean, the sordid and unjust. Bring about a government that is a working partnership with the people. Water your own deserts, harness your own streams, operate your own machines and make this great wonder state one where there is every opportunity for the worker, but no room for the parasite.

"By your might and your right, bring to pass the brotherhood for which Christ died. Transform Colorado into a haven for the oppressed of the world, rising into happiness under a law based upon love and equal justice.

"It is the command of Ludlow's living dead."

O'Neill Assails Governor.

John M. O'Neill, editor of the Miners' Magazine, followed Creel with a savage attack on the governor.

"He's a nonentity who has farmed out Chase and the militia to strangle justice, assassinate law and glut the corporations with the blood wrung from men, women and children," O'Neill shouted.

"He's a traitor to the constitution. I'd rather be a rebel battling for my living in the burning coal field than an Ammons.

"Labor is weary of mass meetings and protests that avail nothing. Now we will take action and with the smoke clearing from the battlefield, the dollar will no longer be the God in the Colorado constitution."

Plea to Drive Out "Gunmen."

Herman Ross, who came to the meeting direct from Ludlow, made a plea that the mine gunmen be driven out of the state.

"They said 'to h------ with the kids' and turned their guns on them," he cried. "Are you going to stand for it again?"

"No," the crowd shouted.

"Then get them out of there," he shouted.

Edward Doyle, miners' secretary, was cheered as he stepped up to the rail and began to speak.

"The miners have not yet given up this fight," he cried, and a cheer answered him. "The Ludlow massacre was premeditated and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is the man responsible. His statement before Congress will prove that I tell the truth.

"I denounce the real governor of this state, the man who has been behind Ammons, the tool of the coal companies. I denounce Fred P. Johnson, the stockyards boss and the man it was who backed the militia in the killing of women and babies. I denounce the mine guards wearing the uniform of the militia, Hamrock and Linderfelt."

Cheers Greet Mother Jones.

While Doyle was speaking, Mother Jones reached the capitol from the union station. She had just arrived from Washington.

A roar of welcome went up and Doyle at once jumped down and helped the aged strike leader to his place. She took off her hat and threw up her clenched fists in a welcome.

"Well, here I am again, boys," she shouted, and a burst of laughter and applause burst out.

"I'm just back from Washington," she called, "and I've got this to say. You aren't licked by a whole lot. Washington is aroused and there's help coming. Just keep your heads level and don't do anything foolish to disgrace the state. The state's all right. It's a few fools at the head of things that are bad.

"Not all of the militia is bad. There's one man in it that's a gentleman. I knew him when they had me in jail at Trinidad. He's Colonel Verdeckburg. I told President Wilson he was the one gentleman in the Colorado militia.

Warns Against Violence.

"Don't commit any depredations. We'll make some laws to put the Colorado Fuel & Iron company out of business and Mr. Rockefeller, who's probably teaching his Sunday school class right now. We'll get some regular men for state officers next time. You've had your lesson.

"I found this governor thing of yours in Washington trying to save some trees when I got there. I told him: 'God Almighty, save the people and let the trees alone. Back there you have murder of women and children and here you are praying for trees.'

"We'll win out. They'll never crush a principle and they never will stop me as long as I have breath to denounce them and lead the men for justice and liberty. They can throw us in jail but they can't keep me there. They may kill me but they can't hush me.

"Now then, you boys all go home, mind me now, and keep cool. Go home, stay out of the saloons, save your money, and when I want you I'll call for you."

There was a tremendous cheer as "Mother" Jones finished and then the "boys" and their wives obediently turned and, through the pouring rain, went home.

 

 

 

 

 

Sacrifices of Organized Labor



1806   The union of Philadelphia Journeymen Cordwainers was convicted of and bankrupted by charges of criminal conspiracy after a strike for higher wages, setting a precedent by which the U.S. government would combat unions for years to come.

1825 The first strike for the 10-hour work-day occurred by carpenters in Boston.



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1835 Children employed in the silk mills in Paterson, NJ went on strike for the 11 hour day/6 day week.

1860   800 women operatives and 4,000 workmen marched during a shoemaker's strike in Lynn, Massachusetts.

1874   The original Tompkins Square Riot. As unemployed workers demonstrated in New York's Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake. Commented Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: "It was the most glorious sight I ever saw..."

1877   U.S. railroad workers began strikes to protest wage cuts.

1877   Ten coal-mining activists ("Molly Maguires") were hanged in Pennsylvania.

1877   A general strike halted the movement of U.S. railroads. In the following days, strike riots spread across the United States. The next week, federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike. At the "Battle of the Viaduct" in Chicago, federal troops (recently returned from an Indian massacre) killed 30 workers and wounded over 100.

1884   - The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, forerunner of the AFL, passed a resolution stating that "8 hours shall constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886." Though the Federation did not intend to stimulate a mass insurgency, its resolution had precisely that effect. ( http://www.lutins.org/labor.html )



1886

- Haymarket Massacre -  May

 

  Coordinated strikes and demonstrations are held nationwide,
to demand an eight-hour workday for industrial workers.  McCormick Reaper Works factory strike; unarmed strikers,
police clash; several strikers are killed.  A meeting of workingmen is held near Haymarket Square; police arrive to "
disperse the peaceful assembly; a bomb is thrown into the ranks of the police; the police open fire; workingmen
evidently return fire; police and an unknown number of workingmen killed; the bomb thrower is unidentified. police
arrest anarchist and labor activists.  The grand jury indicts 31, charged with being accessories to the murder of policeman
Mathias J. Degan; eight are chosen to stand trial: Albert Parsons, August Spies, Oscar Neebe, Louis Lingg, George Engel,
Adolph Fischer, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden.  Jury selection commences; 981 citizens are questioned during
the voir dire process; the resultant panel of twelve are largely businessmen, clerks or salesmen; the jurors, like the
public at large, hold preconceived notions about the defendants' connection to the bombing.   Trial testimony begins;
227 testify including 54 members of the Chicago Police Department and the defendants Fielden, Schwab, Spies and Parsons;
the defendants are prosecuted not as perpetrators but as responsible for instigating the violence; a guilty verdict and
death sentence are considered inevitable.   The jury convicts the defendants and sentences Neebe to fifteen years
in the penitentiary and the others to death by hanging.  1887 -- Illinois Supreme Court upholds rulings and verdict.
November 2, 1887 -- The U.S. Supreme Court denies an appeal, despite an international campaign for clemency.
Louis Lingg commits suicide in his jail cell. November 11, 1887 --

Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, Louis Lingg and Adolph Fischer were executed.    
They had organized for an 8-hour day and were framed for their efforts.   
( http://www.fullbooks.com/Labor-s-Martyrs.html )

 


"I
f you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement," Spies told the judge,
"then hang us. Here you will tread upon a spark, but here, and there, and behind you, and in front of
you, and everywhere, the flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.
The ground is on fire upon which you stand.
"

( http://members.tripod.com/~RedRobin2/index-54.html )

 

 


November 13, 1887 -- In Chicago, the funeral procession of Lingg, Parsons, Spies, Engel, and Fischer in Chicago
is witnessed by 150,000 - 500,000 people. June 26, 1893 - Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardons Neebe,
Fielden, and Schwab.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award98/ichihtml/hayhome.html


1892

Strike in the Coeur d'Alene mining region of northern Idaho

 

, unionists discover a company plant,
Charles Siringo. Trouble ensues, with union men dynamiting a mill and capturing 130 non-union workers and holding them prisoner in a union hall. Several persons are killed by gunfire. Over 400 union men commandeer a train and take it to Wardner , Idaho, where they seize three mines, ejecting non-union workers and company officials. Governor Willey declares martial law and asks President Benjamin Harrison to send federal troops, which he does. The strike grew out of the mine owners' decision to reduce wages for certain workers from 35 cents an hour to 30 cents.   Federal troops arrest 600 union men and
sympathizers, placing them in warehouses surrounded by 14-foot high fences. For two months, the men are kept without hearing or formal charges, then most are released. Union leaders are tried.

 

1892 - Homestead Strike

 

 

- lockout and strike which began on June 30, 1892, culminating in a battle between strikers and private security agents on July 6, 1892. It is one of the most serious labor disputes in U.S. history. The dispute occurred in the Pittsburgh-area town of Homestead, Pennsylvania, between the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (the AA) and the Carnegie Steel Company. 

The AA was an American labor union formed in 1876. A craft union, it represented skilled iron and steel workers.

The AA's membership was concentrated in ironworks west of the Allegheny Mountains. The union negotiated national uniform wage scales on an annual basis; helped regularize working hours, workload levels and work speeds; and helped improve working conditions. It also acted as a hiring hall, helping employers find scarce puddlers and rollers.


The AA was an American labor union formed in 1876. A craft union, it represented skilled iron and steel workers.

The AA's membership was concentrated in ironworks west of the Allegheny Mountains. The union negotiated national uniform wage scales on an annual basis; helped regularize working hours, workload levels and work speeds; and helped improve working conditions. It also acted as a hiring hall, helping employers find scarce puddlers and rollers. With the collective bargaining agreement due to expire on June 30, 1892, Frick and the leaders of the local AA union entered into negotiations in February. With the steel industry doing well and prices higher,

the AA asked for a wage increase. Frick immediately countered with a 22 percent wage decrease that would affect nearly half the union's membership and remove a number of positions from the bargaining unit. Carnegie encouraged Frick to use the negotiations to break the union: "...the Firm has decided that the minority must give way to the majority. These works, therefore, will be necessarily non-union after the expiration of the present agreement." Frick then unilaterally announced on April 30, 1892 that he would bargain for 29 more days.

If no contract was reached, Carnegie Steel would cease to recognize the union. Carnegie formally approved Frick's tactics on May 4.


Frick locked workers out of the plate mill and one of the open hearth furnaces on the evening of June 28.

When no collective bargaining agreement was reached on June 29, Frick locked the union out of the rest of the plant. A high fence topped with barbed wire, begun in January, was completed and the plant sealed to the workers. Sniper towers with searchlights were constructed near each mill building, and high-pressure water cannons (some capable of spraying boiling-hot liquid) were placed at each entrance. Various aspects of the plant were protected, reinforced or shielded.


At a mass meeting on June 30, local AA leaders reviewed the final negotiating sessions and announced that the company had broken the contract by locking out workers a day before the contract expired.

The Knights of Labor, which had organized the mechanics and transportation workers at Homestead, agreed to walk out alongside the skilled workers of the AA. Workers at Carnegie plants in Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Union Mills and Beaver Falls struck in sympathy the same day.


The striking workers were determined to keep the plant closed. They secured a steam-powered river launch and several rowboats to patrol the Monongahela River, which ran alongside the plant. Men also divided themselves into units along military lines. Picket lines were thrown up around the plant and the town, and 24-hour shifts established. Ferries and trains were watched. Strangers were challenged to give explanations for their presence in town; if one was not forthcoming, they were escorted outside the city limits. Telegraph communications with AA locals in other cities were established to keep tabs on the company's attempts to hire replacement workers. Reporters were issued special badges which gave them safe passage through the town, but the badges were withdrawn if it

was felt misleading or false information made it into the news. Tavern owners were even asked to prevent excessive drinking.


Frick was also busy. The company placed ads for replacement workers in newspapers as far away as Boston, St. Louis and even Europe. But unprotected strikebreakers would be driven off. On July 4, Frick formally requested that Sheriff William H. McCleary intervene to allow supervisors access to the plant. Carnegie corporation attorney Philander Knox gave the go-ahead to the sheriff on July 5, and McCleary dispatched 11 deputies to the town to post handbills ordering the strikers to stop interfering with the plant's operation. The strikers tore down the handbills and told the deputies that they would not turn over the plant to nonunion workers. Then they herded the deputies onto a boat and sent them downriver to Pittsburgh.


After consultations with Knox, Frick in April 1892 had contracted with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency

to provide security at the plant. His intent was to open the works with nonunion men on July 6. Knox devised a plan to get the Pinkertons onto the mill property. With the mill ringed by striking workers, the agents would access the plant grounds from the river. Three hundred Pinkerton agents assembled on the Davis Island Dam on the Ohio River about five miles below Pittsburgh at 10:30 p.m. on the night of July 5, 1892. They were given Winchester rifles, placed on two specially-equipped barges and towed upriver.


The strikers were prepared for them. The AA had learned of the Pinkertons as soon as they had left Boston for the embarkation point. The strikers blew the plant whistle at 2:30 a.m., drawing thousands of men, women and children to the plant. The small flotilla of union boats went downriver to meet the barges. Strikers on the steam launch fired a few random shots at the barges, then withdrew—blowing the launch whistle to alert the plant.


The Pinkertons attempted to land under cover of darkness about 4 a.m. A large crowd of families had kept pace with the boats as they were towed by a tug into the town. A few shots were fired at the tug and barges, but no one was injured. The crowd tore down the barbed-wire fence and strikers and their families surged onto the Homestead plant grounds. Some in the crowd threw stones at the barges, but strike leaders shouted for restraint.


The Pinkerton agents attempted to disembark. Conflicting testimony exists as to which side fired the first shot.

According to unnamed and unidentified witnesses, Pinkertons shot first. According to witnesses who gave their names and identities, unionists shot first.


Frederick Heinde, captain of the Pinkertons, and William Foy, a worker, were both wounded. The Pinkerton agents aboard the barges then fired into the crowd, killing two and wounding 11. The crowd responded in kind, killing two and wounding 12. The firefight continued for about 10 minutes.


The strikers then huddled behind the pig and scrap iron in the mill yard while the Pinkertons cut holes in the side of the barges so they could fire on any who approached. The Pinkerton tug departed with the wounded agents, leaving the barges stranded. The strikers soon set to work building a rampart of steel beams further up the riverbank from which they could fire down on the barges. Hundreds of women continued to crowd on the riverbank between the strikers and the agents, calling on the strikers to 'kill the Pinkertons'.


The strikers continued to sporadically fire on the barges. Union members took potshots at the ships from their rowboats and the steam-powered launch. The burgess of Homestead, John McLuckie, issued a proclamation at 6:00 a.m. asking for townspeople to help defend the peace; more than 5,000 people congregated on the hills overlooking the steelworks. A 20-pounder brass cannon was set up on the shore opposite the steel mill, and an attempt was made to sink the barges. Six miles away in Pittsburgh, thousands of steelworkers gathered in the streets, listening to accounts of the attacks at Homestead; hundreds, many of them armed, began to move toward the town to assist the strikers.


The Pinkertons attempted to disembark again at 8:00 a.m. A striker high up the riverbank fired a shot. The Pinkertons returned fire, and four more strikers were killed (one by shrapnel sent flying when cannon fire hit one of the barges). Many of the Pinkerton agents refused to participate in the firefight any longer; the agents crowded onto the barge farthest from the shore. More experienced agents were barely able to stop the new recruits from abandoning the ships and swimming away. Intermittent gunfire from both sides continued throughout the morning.

When the tug attempted to retrieve the barges at 10:50 a.m., gunfire drove it off. More than 300 riflemen positioned themselves on the high ground and kept a steady stream of fire on the barges. Just before noon, a sniper shot dead another Pinkerton agent.


After a few more hours, the strikers attempted to burn the barges. They seized a raft, loaded it with oil-soaked timber and floated it toward the barges. The Pinkertons nearly panicked, and a Pinkerton captain had to threaten to shoot anyone who fled. But the fire burned itself out before it reached the barges. The strikers then loaded a railroad flatcar with drums of oil and set it afire. The flatcar hurtled down the rails toward the mill's wharf where the barges were docked. But the car stopped at the water's edge and burned itself out. Dynamite was thrown at

the barges, but it only hit the mark once (causing a little damage to one barge). At 2:00 p.m., the workers poured oil onto the river, hoping the oil slick would burn the barges; attempts to light the slick failed.


The AA worked behind the scenes to avoid further bloodshed and defuse the tense situation. At 9:00 a.m., outgoing AA international president William Weihe rushed to the sheriff's office and asked McCleary to convey a request to Frick to meet. McCleary did so, but Frick refused. He knew that the more chaotic the situation became, the more likely it was that Governor Robert E. Pattison would call out the state militia.


Sheriff McCleary resisted attempts to call for state intervention until 10 a.m. on July 7. In a telegram to Gov. Pattison, he described how his deputies and the Carnegie men had been driven off, and noted that the mob was nearly 5,000-strong. Pattison responded by requiring McCleary to exhaust every effort to restore the peace. McCleary asked again for help at noon, and Pattison responded by asking how many deputies

the sheriff had. A third telegram, sent at 3:00 p.m., again elicited a response from the governor exhorting McCleary to raise his own troops.


At 4:00 p.m., events at the mill quickly began to wind down. More than 5,000 men—most of them armed mill hands from the nearby South Side, Braddock and Duquesne works—arrived at the Homestead plant.

Weihe urged the strikers to let the Pinkertons surrender, but he was shouted down. Weihe tried to speak again.

But this time, his pleas were drowned out as the strikers bombarded the barges with fireworks left over from the recent Independence Day celebration. Hugh O'Donnell, a heater in the plant and head of the union's strike committee, then spoke to the crowd. He demanded that each Pinkerton be charged with murder, forced to turn over his arms and then be removed from the town. The crowd shouted their approval.


The Pinkertons, too, wished to surrender. At 5:00 p.m., they raised a white flag and two agents asked to speak with the strikers. O'Donnell guaranteed them safe passage out of town. As the Pinkertons crossed the grounds of the mill, the crowd formed a gauntlet through which the agents passed. Men and women threw sand and stones at the Pinkerton agents, spat on them and beat them. Several Pinkertons were clubbed into unconsciousness. Members of the crowd ransacked the barges, then burned them to the waterline.


As the Pinkertons were marched through town to the Opera House (which served as a temporary jail), the townspeople continued to assault the agents. Two agents were beaten as horrified town officials looked on.

The press expressed shock at the treatment of the Pinkerton agents, and the torrent of abuse helped turn media sympathies away from the strikers.


The strike committee met with the town council to discuss the handover of the agents to McCleary. But the real talks were taking place between McCleary and Weihe in McCleary's office. At 10:15 p.m., the two sides agreed to a transfer process. A special train arrived at 12:30 a.m. on July 7. McCleary, the international AA's lawyer and several town officials accompanied the Pinkerton agents to Pittsburgh.


But when the Pinkerton agents arrived at their final destination in Pittsburgh, state officials declared that they would not be charged with murder (as per the agreement with the strikers) but rather simply released.

The announcement was made with the full concurrence of the AA attorney. A special train whisked the Pinkerton agents out of the city at 10:00 a.m. on July 7.


On July 7, the strike committee sent a telegram to Gov. Pattison to attempt to persuade him that law and order

had been restored in the town. Pattison replied that he had heard differently. Union officials traveled to Harrisburg"

and met with Pattison on July 9. Their discussions revolved not around law and order, but the safety of the

Carnegie plant.


Pattison, however, remained unconvinced by the strikers' arguments. Although Pattison had ordered the Pennsylvania militia to muster on July 6, he had not formally charged it with doing anything. Pattison's refusal to act rested largely on his concern that the union controlled the entire city of Homestead and commanded the allegiance of its citizens. Pattison refused to order the town taken by force, for fear a massacre would occur.

But once emotions had died down, Pattison felt the need to act. He had been elected with the backing of a Carnegie-supported political machine, and he could no longer refuse to protect Carnegie interests.


The steelworkers resolved to meet the militia with open arms, hoping to establish good relations with the troops.

But the militia managed to keep its arrival in the town a secret almost to the last moment. At 9:00 a.m. on July 12, the Pennsylvania state militia arrived at the small Munhall train station near the Homestead mill (rather than the downtown train station as expected). More than 4,000 soldiers surrounded the plant. Within 20 minutes they had displaced the picketers; by 10:00 a.m., company officials were back in their offices. Another 2,000 troops camped on the high ground overlooking the city.


The company quickly brought in strikebreakers and restarted production under the protection of the militia.

Despite the presence of AFL pickets in front of several recruitment offices across the nation, Frick easily found

employees to work the mill. The company quickly built bunk houses, dining halls and kitchens on the mill grounds to accommodate the strikebreakers. New employees, many of them black, arrived on July 13, and the mill furnaces relit on July 15. When a few workers attempted to storm into the plant to stop the relighting of the furnaces, militiamen fought them off and wounded six with bayonets.


The company could not operate for long with strikebreakers living on the mill grounds, and permanent replacements had to be found.


Legal retaliation against the strikers proved to be the most promising avenue for the company. On July 18, 16 of the strike leaders were charged with conspiracy, riot and murder. Company lawyer Knox drew up the charges on behalf of state authorities. Each man was jailed for one night and forced to post a $10,000 bond. The union retaliated by charging company executives with murder as well. The company men, too, had to post a $10,000 bond, but they were not forced to spend any time in jail. The same day, the town was placed under martial law, further disheartening many of the strikers.


National attention became riveted on Homestead when, on July 23, Alexander Berkman, an anarchist, gained entrance to Frick's office, shot him twice in the neck and then stabbed him twice with a knife. Berkman was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison.


The Berkman incident prompted the final collapse of the strike. Hugh O'Donnell, without consulting his colleagues on the strike committee, offered what amounted to unconditional surrender to the company.


Additional legal ammunition against the strikers was levied in the fall. Knox had engaged in ex parte communication with Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Paxson. Knox submitted charges to Paxson which accused all 33 members of the strike committee with treason under the state's Crimes Act of 1860. In Pittsburgh for the court's fall term, Paxson (after conferring with Knox once more) issued the treason charges himself on August 30. A $500,000 bond was required. Most of the men could not raise the money, and went to jail while awaiting trial; a few simply went into hiding. Legal scholars were outraged by clear abuse of the law, and deeply concerned by Paxson's apparently biased behavior. State prosecutors, worried by the flimsy nature of the charges, declined to prosecute.



Support for the strikers evaporated. The AFL refused to call for a boycott of Carnegie products in September 1892. Wholesale crossing of the picket line occurred, first among Eastern European immigrants and then among all workers. The strike had collapsed so much that the state militia pulled out on October 13, ending the 95-day occupation. The AA was nearly bankrupted by the job action. Nearly 1,600 men were receiving a total of $10,000 a week in relief from union coffers. With only 192 out of more than 3,800 strikers in attendance, the Homestead chapter of the AA voted, 101 to 91, to return to work on November 20, 1892.


In the end, only four workers were ever tried on the actual charges filed on July 18. Three AA members were found innocent of all charges. Hugh Dempsey, the leader of the local Knights of Labor District Assembly, was found guilty of conspiring to poison nonunion workers at the plant—despite the state's star witness recanting his testimony on the stand. Dempsey served a seven-year prison term. In February 1893, Knox and the union agreed to drop the charges filed against one another, and no further prosecutions emerged from the events at Homestead.


The Homestead strike broke the AA as a force in the American labor movement. Many employers refused to sign contracts with their AA unions while the strike lasted. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Strike )

 

 

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Illinois National Guard can be seen guarding the building during the Pullman During Railroad Strike in 1894.


1894 - 2,000 federal troops were called into Pullman, Ill., to break up a huge strike against the Pullman railway company and two workers were shot and killed by U.S. deputy marshals. The Pullman Strike occurred when 4,000 Pullman Palace Car

Company workers reacted to a 28% wage cut by going on a wildcat strike in Illinois on May 11, 1894, bringing traffic west of Chicago to a halt. George Pullman was a "welfare capitalist." Firmly believing that labor unrest was caused by the unavailability of decent pay and living conditions, he paid unprecedented wages and built a company town by Lake Calumet called Pullman in what is now the southern part of the city. George Pullman was a "welfare capitalist." To reduce labor unrest , he paid unprecedented wages and built a company town by Lake Calumet called Pullman in what is now the southern part of the city.



During the economic panic of 1893, the Pullman Palace Car Company cut wages as demands for their train cars plummeted and the company's revenue dropped. A delegation of workers complained that the corporation that operated the town of Pullman didn't decrease rents, but Pullman "loftily declined to talk with them."


Many of the workers were already members of the American Railway Union (ARU), led by Eugene V. Debs, which supported their strike by launching a boycott in which union members refused to run trains containing Pullman cars. The strike effectively shut down production in the Pullman factories and led to a lockout.

Railroad workers across the nation refused to switch Pullman cars (and subsequently Wagner Palace cars) onto trains. The ARU declared that if switchmen were disciplined for the boycott, the entire ARU would strike in sympathy.


The boycott was launched on June 26, 1894. Within four days, 125,000 workers on twenty-nine railroads had quit work rather than handle Pullman cars.[3] Adding fuel to the fire the railroad companies began hiring replacement workers (that is, strikebreakers), which only increased hostilities. Many African Americans, fearful that the racism expressed by the American Railway Union would lock them out of another labor market crossed the picket line to break the strike, adding a racially charged tone to the conflict.


On June 29, 1894, Debs hosted a peaceful gathering to obtain support for the strike from fellow railroad workers at Blue Island, Illinois. Afterward groups within the crowd became enraged and set fire to nearby buildings and derailed a locomotive. Elsewhere in the United States, sympathy strikers prevented transportation of goods by walking off the job, obstructing railroad tracks or threatening and attacking

strikebreakers. This increased national attention to the matter and fueled the demand for federal action.


The railroads were able to get Edwin Walker, general counsel for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, appointed as a special federal attorney with responsibility for dealing with the strike. Walker obtained an injunction barring union leaders from supporting the strike and demanding that the strikers cease their activities or face being fired. Debs and other leaders of the ARU ignored the injunction, and federal troops were called into action.


The strike was broken up by United States Marshals and some 12,000 United States Army troops, commanded by Nelson Miles, sent in by President Grover Cleveland on the premise that the strike interfered with the delivery of U.S. Mail, ignored a federal injunction and represented a threat to public safety. The arrival of the military led to further outbreaks of violence. During the course of the strike, 13 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded.

An estimated 6,000 rail workers did $340,000 worth of property damage (about $6,800,000 adjusted for inflation to 2007). Debs was then tried for, and eventually found guilty of violating the court injunction, and was sent to prison for six months. A national commission formed to study causes of the 1894 strike found Pullman's paternalism partly to blame and Pullman's company town to be "un-American." In 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court forced the Pullman Company to divest ownership in the town, which was annexed to Chicago.

 


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Federal troops frequently were needed in Idaho, 1892 and 1899.


Miners in Idaho fought mine owners and their private militias.  The Western Federation of Miners was created in the wake of the 1892 episode of violence, where miners are arrested and imprisoned; and while they were in federal prison, they talked about what has happened to them, and they decided they never wanted that to happen to them again, and they created the union. 

With tragic consequences, the Governor and local officials paid little attention to workers' complaints of dangerous mining conditions and low pay and sided with the mine owners' dogma that "private property" was the most important concern.  

1899 - Union miners plant 60 boxes of dynamite beneath the world's largest concentrator, owned by the Bunker Hill Mining Company in Wardner, Idaho, and at 2:35 p.m. light the fuse, destroying the concentrator and several nearby buildings. Governor Steunenberg calls upon President McKinley to send federal troops to suppress the unrest.
Federal troops arrest "every male--miners, bartenders, a doctor, a preacher, even a postmaster and a school
superindentent--" in the union-controlled town of Burke, Idaho. The men are loaded into boxcars, taken to Wardner, and herded into an old barn. Within a few days, the number
of men held captive in Wardner grows to over 1, 000.



1902

- Anthracite Coal Strike



1904 - In the midst of a violent labor dispute, a railroad depot in Independence, Colorado is
bombed, presumably under orders from the leaders of the Western Federation of Miners,
killing fourteen non-union miners.

1905 - Idaho: Returning to his home in Caldwell from a walk shortly after six p.m..
Frank Steunenberg, the former governor of Idaho, is blown ten feet in the air by a bomb blast as he opens his gate and dies soon afterwards.  Later, a waitress at the Saratoga Hotel in Caldwell reports that a guest, Thomas Hogan, had trembling hands and downcast eyes when she waited on his table shortly after the explosion. A search of Hogan's
room turns up traces of plaster of paris in his chamber pot. Plaster of paris was the substance
used to hold pieces of the bomb together.
 

January 1, 1906: Thomas Hogan, also known as Harry Orchard, is arrested while having a drink at the Saratoga Bar and is charged with the first degree murder of Steunenberg.  January 7, 1906: The state of Idaho hires America's most famous detective, James McParland of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, to head the investigation of Steunenberg's assassination. He arrives in Boise two days later.  
                  

  January 22, 1906: McParland meets Orchard in the state penitentiary and suggests
that more lenient treatment might be possible if were willing to turn state's evidence against those who recruited him to commit his crime.
 

February 1, 1906: Harry Orchard, after breaking down several times and crying, completes a 64-page confession to the Steunenberg assassination and 17 other killings, all ordered, he says, by the inner
circle of the Western Federation of Miners, including William Haywood, Charles Moyer, and George Pettibone.
  February 15, 1906: Governor McDonald of Colorado issues a warrant for the arrest of Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone. 

February 17, 1906:
Late at night, Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone are arrested in Denver and temporarily housed in a local jail.
  February 18, 1906: Denied an opportunity to call lawyers or loved ones, the three union leaders are placed on a special train at daybreak. Orders are issued that the train not stop until it has crossed the Idaho border.  
                   

April, 1906: The Supreme Court of Idaho rules that it has no jurisdiction to hear the complaint of Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone that they were denied an opportunity to fight extradition to Idaho.  November, 1906: William Haywood loses his race as the Socialist Party candidate for Governor of Colorado.   December 3, 1906: The Supreme Court of the United States, with one dissent, rules that the union leaders' arrest and forcible removal from Colorado, even though accomplished through the fraud and connivance of leaders of two states, violated no constitutional rights of the defendants. 

1907: Adams repudiates his confession and is transferred to Wallace, Idaho to stand trial for an 1899 murder.   The jury is unable to reach a verdict. Hayward an Pettibone are also acquitted by juries and the charges against Charles Moyer are dropped.

1908:
Harry Orchard is tried and convicted of the murder of Gov. Steunenberg. He is sentenced to death, but his sentence is commuted to life in prison.
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/

projects/ftrials/haywood/HAY_CHRO.HTM  

 

 

1909

- NYC -  30,000 garment workers go on  on strike.

 

As young as age 15, they are worked seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (53 hour work week) with a half-hour lunch break. During the busy season, the work was nearly non-stop. They were paid about $6 per week.
In some cases, they were required to use their own needles, thread, irons and occasionally
their own sewing machines. Owners hired thugs to break up striking women.  Police back the   owners and arrest strkers.  Judges quickly sentenced them to Labor Camps.  One judge said their strike went against God's will.
http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/history/history/uprising_fire.cfm


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March 25, 1911,

a Saturday, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist
factory.

 

Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their ladders weren’t tall enough to reach the upper floors of the 10-story building. Trapped inside because the owners had locked the fire escape exit doors, workers jumped to their deaths. In a half an hour, the fire was over, and 146 of the 500 workers—mostly young women—were dead...After the fire, their story inspired hundreds of activists across the state and the nation to push for fundamental reforms. For some, such as Frances Perkins, who stood helpless watching the factory burn, the tragedy inspired a lifetime of advocacy for workers’ rights. She later became secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Company owners were charged with seven counts of manslaughter – but were found not guilty. The incident was a turning point in labor law, especially concerning health and safety.

For three days prior, the company, along with other warehouse owners, had grouped together to fight the Fire Commissioner's order that fire sprinklers be installed.

 

 

   wpe12C.jpg (18402 bytes)
Mother Jones and Workers seeking to organize a union.

 


She sometimes took jobs in factories to understand the problems of workers, or lived with them in tents. The workers often were immigrants who spoke little English and had no knowledge of how to improve their lives in America. She gave inspiring speeches that boosted their spirits, or she held educational meetings.

Sometimes she was a volunteer, sometimes she was paid for her work.

In 1877, working among railroad workers in Pittsburgh, she organized her first strike. In 1890, she took a job as an organizer for the United Mine Workers.

 

In 1902, she led a march of coal miners' wives against strikebreakers in Pennsylvania. The next year, she led "the march of the mill children" from Pennsylvania to Long Island to protest child labor.


In 1912, at age 82, she endured arrest and trial to fight for striking coal miners in West Virginia. During the strike, shooting had erupted between the miners and guards hired to protect substitute workers. Martial law was declared.

When Mother Jones went to Charleston, the capital, to meet the governor, she was arrested. A military prosecutor indicted her and 47 others on the union side -- none of the guards were charged -- with conspiracy to commit murder.

( http://www.dailypress.com/topic/ny sbp_62503x,0,6512878.story ) 

 


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1912 -    Lawrence, Mass. strikers' victory parade.

 

1912

- Lawrence Textile Strike

 

- A strike of immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 led by the Industrial Workers of the World. Work in a

textile mill takes place at a grueling pace. The labor is repetitive, and dangerous.

A number of children under the age of fourteen worked in the mills. Conditions had grown even worse for workers in the decade before the strike. The introduction of the two-loom system in the woolen mills lead to a dramatic speedup in the pace of work. The increase in production enabled the factory owners to cut the wages of their employees and lay off large numbers of workers. Those who kept their jobs earned less than $9.00 a week for nearly sixty hours of work. The workers in Lawrence lived in crowded and dangerous apartment buildings, often with many families sharing each apartment. Many families survived on bread, molasses, and beans;

as one worker testified before the March 1912 congressional investigation of the Lawrence strike, "When we eat meat it seems like a holiday, especially for the children".

The mortality rate for children was fifty percent by age six; thirty-six out of every 100 men and women who worked in the mill died by the time they reached twenty-five. 


Prompted by one mill owner's decision to lower wages when a new law shortening the workweek went into effect in January, the strike spread rapidly through the town, growing to more than twenty thousand workers at nearly every mill within a week.

The strike, which lasted more than two months and which defied the assumptions of conservative unions within the American Federation of Labor that immigrant, largely female and ethnically divided workers could not be organized.


When Polish women weavers at Everett Cotton Mills realized that their employer had reduced their pay by thirty two cents they stopped their looms and left the mill, shouting "short pay, short pay!" Workers at other mills joined the next day; within a week more than 20,000 workers were on strike.


Joseph Ettor of the IWW had been organizing in Lawrence for some time before the strike; he and Arturo Giovannitti of the IWW quickly assumed leadership of the strike, forming a strike committee made up of two representatives from each ethnic group in the mills, which took responsibility for all major decisions. The committee, which arranged for its strike meetings to be translated into twenty-five different languages, put forward a set of demands; a fifteen percent increase in wages for a fifty-four-hour work week, double time for overtime work, and no discrimination against workers for their strike activity.


The City responded to the strike by ringing the city's alarm bell for the first time in its history; the Mayor ordered a company of the local militia to patrol the streets. The strikers responded

with mass picketing. When mill owners turned fire hoses on the picketers gathered in front of the mills, they responded by throwing ice at the plants, breaking a number of windows. The

court sentenced thirty-six workers to a year in jail for throwing ice; as the judge stated, "The only way we can teach them is to deal out the severest sentences". The governor then ordered

out the state militia and state police. Mass arrests followed.


A local undertaker and a member of the Lawrence school board attempted to frame the strike leadership by planting dynamite in several locations in town a week after the strike began. He was fined $500 and released without jail time. William Wood, the owner of the American Woolen Company, who had made a large payment to the defendant under unexplained circumstances shortly before the dynamite was found, was not charged.


The authorities later charged Ettor and Giovannitti with murder for the death of striker Anna LoPizzo,[1] likely shot by the police. Ettor and Giovannitti had been three miles away, speaking to another group of workers at the time. They and a third defendant, who had not even heard of either Ettor or Giovannitti at the time of his arrest, were held in jail for the duration of the strike and several months thereafter. The authorities declared martial law, banned all public meetings and called out twenty-two more militia companies to patrol

the streets.


The IWW responded by sending Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and a number of other organizers to Lawrence. The union established an efficient system of relief committees, soup kitchens, and food distribution stations, while volunteer doctors provided medical care. The IWW raised funds on a nation-wide basis to provide weekly benefits for strikers and dramatized the strikers' needs by arranging for several hundred children to go to supporters' homes in New York City for the duration of the strike. When city authorities tried to prevent another hundred children from going to Philadelphia on February 24 by sending police and the militia to the station to

detain the children and arrest their parents, the police began clubbing both the children and their mothers while dragging them off to be taken away by truck; one pregnant mother miscarried. The press, there to photograph the event, reported extensively on the attack.


The public assault on the children and their mothers sparked a national outrage. Congress convened investigative hearings, eliciting testimony from teenaged workers who described how they had to pay for their drinking water and to do unpaid work on Saturdays. Helen Herron Taft, the wife of President Taft, attended the hearings; Taft later ordered a nationwide investigation of factory conditions.


The national attention had an effect: the owners offered a five percent pay raise on March 1; the workers rejected it. American Woolen Company agreed to all the strikers' demands on March 12, 1912. The rest of the manufacturers followed by the end of the month; other textile companies throughout New England, anxious to avoid a similar confrontation, followed suit. The children who had been taken in by supporters in New York City came home on March 30.


Ettor and Giovannitti remained in prison even after the strike ended. Haywood threatened a general strike to demand their freedom, with the cry "Open the jail gates or we will close the mill gates". The IWW raised $60,000 for their defense and held demonstrations and mass meetings throughout the country in their support; the authorities in Boston, Massachusetts arrested all of the members of the Ettor-Giovannitti Defense Committee. Fifteen thousand Lawrence workers went on strike for one day on September 30 to demand that Ettor and Giovannitti be released. Swedish and French workers proposed a boycott of woolen goods from the United States and a refusal

to load ships going to the U.S.; Italian supporters of Giovannitti rallied in front of the United States consulate in Rome.


In the meantime, Ernest Pitman, a Lawrence building contractor who had done extensive work for the American

Woolen Company, confessed to a district attorney that he had attended a meeting in the Boston offices of Lawrence textile companies where the plan to frame the union by planting dynamite had been made. Pitman committed suicide shortly thereafter when subpoenaed to testify. Wood, the owner of the American Woolen Company, was formally exonerated.


When the trial of Ettor, Giovannitti, and a co-defendant accused of firing the shot that killed the picketer, began in

September 1912 in Salem, Massachusetts before Judge Joseph F. Quinn, the three defendants were kept in metal cages in the courtroom. Witnesses testified without contradiction that Ettor and Giovannitti were miles away while Caruso, the third defendant, was at home eating supper at the time of the killing.


Ettor and Giovannitti both delivered closing statements at the end of the two-month trial. Joe Ettor stated:

Does the District Attorney believe that the gallows or guillotine ever settled an idea?
If an idea can live, it lives because history adjudges it right. I ask only for justice. . . .
The scaffold has never yet and never will destroy an idea or a movement. . . .
An idea consisting of a social crime in one age becomes the very religion of humanity in the next. . . .
Whatever my social views are, they are what they are. They cannot be tried in this courtroom..

All three defendants were acquitted on November 26, 1912.


The strikers, however, lost nearly all of the gains they had won in the next few years. The IWW disdained written contracts, holding that such contracts encouraged workers to abandon the daily class struggle. In fact, however, the mill owners had more stamina for that fight and slowly chiseled away at the improvements in wages and working conditions, while firing union activists and installing labor spies to keep an eye on workers. A depression in the industry, followed by another speedup, led to further layoffs. The IWW had, by that time,

turned its attention to supporting the silk industry workers in Paterson, New Jersey. The Paterson strike ended in defeat.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_textile_strike )



 

1913-14

- Calumet, Michigan Copper Strike.

 

  Strike called by Western Federation of Miners because mine owners would  not recognize the union.  Boys 12 years old worked in the mine.  Murder, assault, intimidation followed. strikers demanded that two men be involved in the operation of all equipment for the sake of worker safety, demands for an 8 hour work day instead of 12 hours, recognition of the union,
a minimum wage of $3 for underground workers, and a pay increase of 35 cents per day for all surface workers.   
WFM claimed nine thousand members in the region, with 98% of them voting in favor of the strike.  sheriff of Houghton County, James Cruse, ontracted men from the Waddell-Mahon agency of New York. These strike breakers were well known to the WFM, having been involved in other strikes supported by the union in the western U.S. Waddell-Mahon men, as well as Ascher detectives, were also hired.  Mine owners refused to recognize WFM and  tried to use strike breakers  (scabs)to start up mines.  Local newsapers refused to tell the miners' side of strike, blaming them for all acts of violence.  

The strike had started in July.  It was not settled by the end of the year. At a Christmas Party of 500 hundred miners's families, someone yelled "fire". In the ensuing melee seventy-three people (including fifty-nine children) were killed. There was no fire. To date it has not been established who cried "fire"
and why. The most common theory is that "fire" was called out by the anti-union company  management to disrupt the party. It was also claimed that the doors has been bolted shut by scabs.

 

The companies' anti union organziation, Citizens Allianc, sought to have Charles Moyer, president of the Western Federation of Miners, publicly exonerate the Alliance of all fault in the tragedy. Moyer refused.

Rather than provide such an exoneration, Moyer announced that the Alliance was responsible for the catastrophe, claiming that an Alliance agent yelled the word “fire”.[3] The Alliance assaulted Moyer in nearby Hancock, shot and kidnapped him. They placed him on a train with instructions to leave the state and never return. After getting medical attention in Chicago (and holding a press conference where he displayed his gunshot wound) he returned to Michigan to continue the work of the WFM. 

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Hall_Disaster http://www.hu.mtu.edu/vup/Strike/background3.html. ) 

 

 



1914

- Ludlow, Colorado Massacre

 



- This was the most violent labor conflict in U.S. history; the reported death toll was nearly 200 It began withe deaths of 20 people, 11 of them children, during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado in the U.S. on April 20, 1914. These deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women, twelve children, six miners and union officials and one National Guardsman were killed. In response, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard.


This was the bloodiest event in the 14-month 1913-1914 southern Colorado Coal Strike. The strike was organized by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) against coal mining companies in Colorado. The three biggest mining companies were the Rockefeller family-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMF), and the Victor-American Fuel Company (VAF).


Mining firms had long been able to attract low-skill labor, in spite of modest wages and stiff cost-cutting policies designed to maintain profits in a competitive industry. This made conditions in the mines difficult and often dangerous for the workers, and the sector became a ripe target for union organizers. Colorado miners had attempted to periodically unionize since the state's first strike in 1883.


The Western Federation of Miners organized primarily hard rock miners in the gold and silver camps during the 1890s. Beginning in 1900, the UMWA began organizing coal miners in the western states, including southern Colorado. The UMWA decided to focus on the CF&I because of the company's harsh management tactics under the conservative and distant Rockefellers and other investors. As part of their campaign to break or prevent strikes, the coal companies had lured immigrants, mainly from southern and Eastern Europe and Mexico. CF&I's management purposely mixed immigrants of different nationalities in the mines to discourage communication that might lead to organization.


As was typical in the industry of that day, miners were paid by tons of coal mined and not reimbursed for "dead work," such as laying rails, timbering, and shoring the mines to make them operable. Given the intense pressure to produce, mine safety was often given short shrift. More than 1,700 miners died in Colorado from 1884 to 1912, a rate that was between 2 and 3.5 times the national average during those years. Furthermore, the miners felt they were being short-changed on the weight of the coal they mined, arguing that the scales used for paying them were different from those used for coal customers.

Miners challenging the weights risked being dismissed.


Most miners also lived in "company towns," where homes, schools, doctors, clergy, and law enforcement were provided by the company, as well as stores offering a full range of goods that could be paid for in company currency, scrip. However, this became an oppressive environment in which law focused on enforcement of increasing prohibitions on speech or assembly by the miners to discourage union-building activity. Also, under pressure to maintain profitability, the mining companies steadily reduced their investment in the town and its amenities while increasing prices at the company store so that miners and their families experienced worsening conditions and higher costs. Colorado's legislature had passed laws to improve the condition of the mines and towns, including the outlawing of the use of scrip, but these laws were poorly enforced.

 

 

 

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Despite attempts to suppress union activity, secret organizing continued by the UMWA in the years leading up to 1913. Once everything had been laid out according to their plan, the UMWA presented, on behalf of coal miners, a list of seven demands:


- Recognition of the union as bargaining agent


- An increase in tonnage rates (equivalent to a 10% wage increase)


- Enforcement of the eight-hour work day law


- Payment for "dead work" (laying track, timbering, handling impurities, etc.)


- Weight-checkmen elected by the workers (to keep company weightmen honest)


- The right to use any store, and choose their boarding houses and doctors


- Strict enforcement of Colorado's laws (such as mine safety rules, abolition of scrip), and an end to the dreaded company guard system




The major coal companies rejected the demands and in September 1913, the UMWA called a strike.

Those who went on strike were promptly evicted from their company homes, and they moved to tent villages prepared by the UMWA, with tents built on wood platforms and furnished with cast iron stoves on land leased by the union in preparation for a strike.


In leasing the tent village sites, the union had strategically selected locations near the mouths of the canyons, which led to the coal camps for the purpose of monitoring traffic and harassing replacement workers. Confrontations between striking miners and replacement workers, referred to as "scabs" by the union, often got out of control, resulting in deaths. The company hired the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to help break the strike by protecting the replacement workers and otherwise making life difficult for the strikers.


Baldwin-Felts had a reputation for aggressive strike breaking. Agents shone searchlights on the tent villages at night and randomly fired into the tents, occasionally killing and maiming people. They used an improvised armored car, mounted with a M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun that the union called the "Death Special," to patrol the camp's perimeters. The steel-covered car was built in the CF&I plant in Pueblo from the chassis of a large touring sedan. Because of frequent sniping on the tent colonies, miners dug protective pits beneath the tents where they and their families could seek shelter.


On October 28, as strike-related violence mounted, Colorado governor Elias M. Ammons, called in the Colorado National Guard. At first, the guard's appearance calmed the situation. But the sympathies of the militia leaders were quickly seen by the strikers to lie with company management. Guard Adjutant General John Chase had served during the violent Cripple Creek strike 10 years earlier, and imposed a harsh regime in Ludlow.

|On March 10, 1914, the body of a replacement worker was found on the railroad tracks near Forbes.

The National Guard believed that the man had been murdered by the strikers. Chase ordered the Forbes tent colony destroyed in retaliation. The attack was carried out while the Forbes colony inhabitants were attending a funeral of infants who had died a few days earlier. The attack was witnessed by a young photographer, Lou Dold, whose images of the destruction appear often in accounts of the strike.


The strikers persevered until the spring of 1914. By then, the state had run out of money to maintain the guard, and was forced to recall them. The governor and the mining companies, fearing a breakdown in order, left two guard units in southern Colorado and allowed the coal companies to finance a residual militia, which consisted largely of CF&I camp guards in National Guard uniforms.


On the morning of April 20, the day after Easter was celebrated by the many Greek immigrants at Ludlow, three Guardsmen appeared at the camp ordering the release of a man they claimed was being held against his will.

This request prompted the camp leader, Louis Tikas, born in Crete, to meet with a local militia commander at the train station in Ludlow village, a half mile (0.8 km) from the colony. While this meeting was progressing, two companies of militia installed a machine gun on a ridge near the camp and took a position along a rail route about half a mile south of Ludlow. Anticipating trouble, Tikas ran back to the camp. The miners, fearing for the safety of their families, set out to flank the militia positions. A firefight soon broke out.


he fighting raged for the entire day. The militia was reinforced by non-uniformed mine guards later in the afternoon.

At dusk, a passing freight train stopped on the tracks in front of the Guards' machine gun placements, allowing many of the miners and their families to escape to an outcrop of hills to the east called the "Black Hills."

By 7:00 p.m., the camp was in flames, and the militia descended on it and began to search and loot the camp.

Louis Tikas had remained in the camp the entire day and was still there when the fire started. Tikas and two other men were captured by the militia. Tikas and Lt. Karl Linderfelt, commander of one of two Guard companies, had confronted each other several times in the previous months. While two militiamen held Tikas, Linderfelt broke a rifle butt over his head. Tikas and the other two captured miners were later found shot dead. Their bodies lay along the Colorado and Southern tracks for three days in full view of passing trains. The militia officers refused to allow them to be moved until a local of a railway union demanded the bodies be taken away for burial.


During the battle, four women and eleven children had been hiding in a pit beneath one tent, where they were trapped when the tent above them was set on fire. Two of the women and all of the children suffocated. These deaths became a rallying cry for the UMWA, who called the incident the "Ludlow Massacre."



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Coffins are marched through Trinidad, Colorado, at the funeral for victims of the Ludlow massacre.

 


In addition to the fire victims, Louis Tikas and the other men who were shot to death, three company guards and one militiaman were also killed in that day's fighting.


n response to the Ludlow massacre, the leaders of organized labor in Colorado issued a call to arms, urging union members to acquire "all the arms and ammunition legally available," and a large-scale guerrilla war ensued, lasting ten days. In Trinidad, Colorado, UMW officials openly distributed arms and ammunition to strikers at union headquarters. Believing their women and children to have been "wantonly slaughtered" by the militia, 700 to 1,000 inflamed strikers "attacked mine after mine, driving off or killing the guards and setting fire to the buildings." At least fifty people, including those at Ludlow, were killed in ten days of fighting against mine guards and hundreds of militia reinforcements rushed back into the strike zone. The fighting ended only when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent in federal troops. The troops disarmed both sides (displacing, and often arresting, the militia in the process) and reported directly to Washington. 


The UMWA finally ran out of money, and called off the strike on December 10, 1914.


In the end, the strikers failed to obtain their demands, the union did not obtain recognition, and many striking workers were replaced by new workers. Over 400 strikers were arrested, 332 of whom were indicted for murder. Only one man, John Lawson, leader of the strike, was convicted of murder, and that verdict was eventually overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court. Twenty-two National Guardsmen, including 10 officers, were court-martialed. All were acquitted, except Lt. Linderfelt, who was found guilty of assault for his attack on Louis Tikas. However, he was given only a light reprimand.


The UMWA eventually bought the site of the Ludlow tent colony in 1916. Two years later, they erected the Ludlow Monument to commemorate those who had died during the strike. .A company union was established by John Rockerfeller, Jr. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_massacre )

 

 

 

 


1916

- Everett (WA) Massacre

 

- On May 1, 1916 the Everett Shingle Weavers Union went on strike.
Strike-breakers had beaten the picketers, and the police did not get involved, on the grounds that the mill was on private property. At the end of the shift, the picketers retaliated, but this time the police intervened,  IWW public speakers protested the unequal treatment. Realizing that arrest alone did not serve as a deterrent to the speakers, the police now began beating the speakers the arrested. They ran I.W.W. members out of town, and prohibited entrance to town, merely for being members.  The I.W.W. began bringing members to town in
groups, but the police (enlisting the aid of citizen-deputies) beat the groups, as well. The worst of these beatings was on October 30, 1916. Forty-one I.W.W. members had come by ferry to Everett, to speak at Hewitt and Wetmore. The Sheriff and his deputies beat these men, took them to Beverly Park, and forced them to run through a gauntlet of 'law and order' officials, armed with clubs and whips. It was this horrific incident which caused the I.W.W. to organize a group of 300 men to travel to Everett on November 5 for a free-speech rally. 
Five workers were killed.  Thirty wounded. Nearly 300 were arrested.  
http://content.lib.washington.edu/cdm4/

document.php?CISOROOT=/pnwlabor&CISOPTR=10&CISOSHOW=195  

 

On

November 5, 1916,


about 300 members of the IWW met at the IWW hall in Seattle and then marched down

to the docks where they boarded the steamers Verona and Calista which then headed north to Everett.

Verona arrived at Everett before Callista and as they approached the dock in the early afternoon, the Wobblies sang their fight song Hold the Fort. Local business interests, knowing the Wobblies were coming, placed armed vigilantes on the dock and on at least one tugboat in the harbor, Edison, owned by the American Tug Boat Company. As with previous labor demonstrations, the local business had also secured the aid of law enforcement, including the Snohomish County sheriff Donald McRae, who had targeted Wobblies for arbitrary arrests and beatings.


At the end of the mayhem, 2 citizen deputies lay dead with 16 or 20 others wounded, including Sheriff McRae.

The IWW officially listed 5 dead with 27 wounded, although it is speculated that as many as 12 IWW members may have been killed. There was a good likelihood that at least some of the casualties on the dock were caused not by IWW firing from the steamer, but on vigilante rounds from the cross-fire of bullets coming from the Edison. The local Everett Wobblies started their street rally anyway, and as a result, McRae's deputized citizens rounded them up and hauled them off to jail. As a result of the shootings, the governor of the State of Washington sent companies of militia to Everett and Seattle to help maintain order. Upon returning to Seattle, 74 Wobblies were arrested as a direct result of the "Everett Massacre" including IWW leader Thomas H. Tracy.

They were taken to the Snohomish County jail in Everett and charged with murder of the 2 deputies. After a two-month trial, Tracy was acquitted by a jury on May 5, 1917. Shortly thereafter, all charges were dropped against the remaining 73 defendants and they were released from jail. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett_massacre )



As a result, over 200 vigilantes or "citizen deputies", under the ostensible authority of Snohomish County Sheriff McRae, met in order to repel the "anarchists". As the Verona drew into the dock, and someone on board threw a line over a bollard, McRae stepped forward and called out "Boys, who's your leader?" The IWW men laughed and jeered,

replying "We're all leaders," and they started to swing out the gang plank. McRae drew his pistol, told them he was the sheriff, he was enforcing the law, and they couldn't land here. There was a silence, then a Wobbly came up to the front and yelled out "the hell we can't."


Just then a single shot rang out, followed by about ten minutes of intense gunfire. Most of it came from the vigilantes on the dock, but some fire came from the Verona, although the majority of the passengers were unarmed.

Whether the first shot came from boat or dock was never determined. Passengers aboard the Verona rushed to the opposite side of the ship, nearly capsizing the vessel. The ship's rail broke as a result and a number of passengers were ejected into the water, some drowned as a result but how many is not known, or whether persons who'd been shot also went overboard. Over 175 bullets pierced the pilot house alone, and the captain of the Verona, Chance Wiman, was only able to avoid being shot by ducking behind the ship's safe.


Once the ship righted herself somewhat after the near-capsize, some slack came on the bowline, and Engineer Shellgren put the engines hard astern, parting the line, and enabling the steamer to escape. Out in the harbor, Captain Wiman warned off the approaching Calista and then raced back to Seattle.

 



1917

- Bisbee Copper Mine Deportation

 

-  1,185 other men were herded into filthy boxcars by an
armed vigilante force in Bisbee, Arizona, and abandoned across the New Mexico border. During World War I, the price of copper reached unprecedented heights and the companies reaped enormous profits. By March of 1917, copper sold for $.37 a pound; it had been $.13 1/2 at the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
With five thousand miners working around the clock, Bisbee was booming.  To maintain high production levels, the pool of miners was increased from an influx of southern European immigrants. Although the mining companies paid relatively high wages, working conditions for miners were no better than before the copper market crash in 1907-1908. Furthermore, the inflation caused by World War I increased living expenses and
eroded any gains the miners had realized in salaries.  The mining companies controlled Bisbee, not only because they were the primary employers but because local businesses depended heavily on the mines and miners to survive. Even the local newspaper was owned by one of the major mining companies, Phelps Dodge.
Prior to 1917, union activity had repeatedly been stifled. Between 1906 and 1907, for example, about 1,200 men were fired for for supporting a union. Conversely, the Bisbee Industrial Association, an alliance that was pro-company and anti-union, was easily organized around the same time. 

On June 24, 1917, the I.W.W. presented the Bisbee mining companies with a list of demands. These demands included improvements to safety and working conditions, such as requiring two men on each machine and an end to blasting in the mines during shifts. Demands were also made to end discrimination against members of labor organizations and the unequal treatment of foreign and minority workers.
Furthermore, the unions wanted a flat wage system to replace sliding scales tied to the market price of copper. The copper companies refused all I.W.W. demands, using the war effort as justification.
As a result, a strike was called, and by June 27 roughly half of the Bisbee work force was on strike.

                     The Citizen's Protective League, an anti-union organization formed during a previous labor dispute, was resurrected by local businessmen and put under the control of Sheriff Harry Wheeler. A group of miners loyal to the mining companies also formed the Workman's Loyalty League. On July 11, secret meetings of these two so-called "vigilante groups" were held to discuss ways to deal with the strike and the strikers.

                     The next day, starting at 2:00 a. m., calls were made to Loyalty Leaguers as far away as Douglas, Arizona. By 5:00 a. m., about 2,000 deputies assembled. All wore white armbands to distinguish them from other mining workers. No federal or state officials were notified of the vigilantes' plans.
The Western Union telegraph office was seized, preventing any communication to the town.

At 6:30 a. m., Sheriff Harry Wheeler gave orders to begin the roundup. Throughout Bisbee, men were roused from their beds, their houses, and the streets. Though armed, the vigilantes were instructed to avoid violence.
However, reports of beatings, robberies, vandalism, and abuse of women later surfaced.

 

 


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The vigilantes rounded up over 1,000 men, many of whom were not strikers -- or even miners -- and marched them two miles to the Warren Ballpark. There they were surrounded by armed Loyalty Leaguers and urged to quit the strike. Anyone willing to put on a white armband was released. At 11:00 a. m. a train arrived, and 1,186 men were loaded aboard boxcars inches deep in manure. Also boarding were 186 armed guards; a machine gun was mounted on the top of the train. The train traveled from Bisbee to Columbus, New Mexico, where it was turned back because there were no accommodations for so many men. On its return trip the train stopped at Hermanas, New Mexico, where the men were abandoned. A later train brought water and food rations, but the men were left without shelter until July 14th when U. S. troops arrived. The troops escorted the men to facilities in Columbus. Many were detained for several months.

Meanwhile, Bisbee authorities mounted guards on all roads into town to insure that no deportees returned and to prevent new "troublemakers" from entering. A kangaroo court was also established to try other people deemed disloyal to mining interests. These people also faced deportation.

http://www.library.arizona.edu/

exhibits/bisbee/history/overview.html

 


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1918:   The trial of 101 Wobblies (members of the Industrial Workers of the World or IWW) began in Chicago, for opposition to World War I.

 

In September 1917, 165 IWW members were arrested for conspiring to hinder the draft, encourage desertion, and intimidate others in connection with labor disputes. The trial lasted five months, the longest criminal trial in American history to date.  The jury found them all guilty. The judge sentenced IWW leader "Big Bill" Haywood and 14 others to 20 years" in prison; 33 were given 10 years, the rest shorter sentences. They were fined a total of $2,500,000 and the IWW was shattered as a result.
(
http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/peacehistorymarch.htm )

 

 

 

                1918, 1919

Centralia (WA)  Attack on IWW Hall -



International Workers of the World (the IWW, or Wobblies) had set up office in Centralia, Washington, with the intent to organize the local labor forces. This was opposed by the wealthy timber barons who made every attempt to drive them out of town.

On Memorial Day in 1918 during a parade that included the Governor of Washington, the Mayor of Centralia, and other dignitaries, the IWW hall was attacked. The IWW office was destroyed and the workers were beaten and told to leave town. Instead, they opened a new hall and continued their efforts toward improving the living standards of the working class.


The next year a rumor was circulating that the IWW hall would again be attacked, this time during the Armistice Day parade. The IWW workers were determined to defend their rights and property, and on the advice of their lawyer did so. When the Armistice Day parade stopped in front of the IWW hall, the people inside were armed and ready.


The hall was attacked, mainly by ex-servicemen who were now organized under the American Legion.

As the attackers broke out the windows and kicked in the door, the armed I.W.W. members fired on them from inside the hall and from a near-by hillside. As a result, several of the

attackers were either killed or injured.


Wesley Everest, who was one of the armed IWW members defending the hall, ran out the back as he was being chased by a mob. He shot three of the attackers, and killed at least one of them before he was caught, beaten, and dragged by the neck to the jail. Once there, he was thrown in along with the others that had been caught.


Later that day word was received that several of those shot by the IWW members had died.

This inflamed the community even more. The jail where the prisoners were being held was surrounded by a large crowd of up to a thousand men and women yelling and cursing at the prisoners.


Later that night all power went out in Centralia, and in the darkness Everest was taken from the jail and hung by the neck from a bridge across the Chehalis River (the Mellen St. Bridge).

It was also rumored that he had been castrated... Later, the I.W.W. members who were accused of murder in this case, were railroaded by a trial that made a mockery of justice

through lies, intimidation of witnesses, and suppression of evidence.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

~cainhome/remmen_album/emil_guard/centralia_tragedy.htm


 



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1919

- Seattle General Strike -

 



The strike began in shipyards that had expanded rapidly with war production contracts. 35,000 workers expected a post-war pay hike to make up for two years of strict wage controls imposed by the federal government. When regulators refused, the Metal Trades Council union alliance declared a strike and closed the yards.

After an appeal to Seattle’s powerful Central Labor Council for help, most of the city’s

110 local unions voted to join a sympathy walkout. Most of the local and national press

denounced the strike, while conservatives called for stern measures to suppress what looked to them to be a revolutionary plot. Mayor Ole Hanson, elected the year before with labor support, armed the police and threatened martial law and federal troops. Some of the unions wavered on the strike's third day. Most others had gone back to work by the time the Central Labor Council officially declared an end on February 11. By then police and vigilantes were hard at work rounding up Reds. The IWW hall and Socialist Party headquarters were raided and leaders arrested. Federal agents also closed the Union Record, the labor-owned daily newspaper, and arrested several of its staff. Meanwhile across the country headlines screamed the news that Seattle had been saved, that the revolution had been broken, that, as Mayor Hanson phrased it, “Americanism” had triumphed over “Bolshevism.”.

( Source: http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/ )


1920 - Matewan Massacre - In the coal company town of Matewan, West Virginia, the miners miners had begun to organize themselves into a union. The Stone Mountain Coal Company heavily resisted this effort from the coal miners by hiring agents from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to evict them from their company-owned houses. Matewan Police Chief Sid Hatfield argued over these illegal evictions carried out by the Baldwin-Felts detectives. After the argument, Hatfield obtained warrants for the arrest of the detectives and confronted them at the town train depot accompanied by a large group of armed miners some of whom had been temporarily deputized. When Hatfield presented his warrant, the detectives presented him with a false warrant for his own arrest. As the altercation over the two warrants escalated, one of the miners in the crowd summoned Matewan mayor Cabell Testerman to settle the dispute. Testerman declared the warrant for Hatfield's arrest a forgery and within moments, the first shot was fired.

Although it is not clear who fired first, Mayor Testerman and Albert Felts of the Baldwin-Felts agency were the first men to be shot. After the initial shots, the surrounding area erupted with gunfire from both sides. 


Court Testimony


Hatfield: Three automobiles. The mayor issued a warrant for their arrest and gave it to me and told me to arrest them. I went up and told Mr. Felts, he was the boss of the gang, that I would have to arrest him. He said he would return the compliment on me, that he had a warrant for me. I told him to read the warrant to me. He did not read the warrant to me but told me what the charges were and he said he would have to take me to Bluefield. I told him that I would not go to Bluefield because I was the Chief of Police and I could not leave. He told me that he would have to take me anyway. I told him that if he would have to take me I would have to be arrested, and the mayor came out to see what the charges were. He asked what the charges were and he told Felts that he would give bond for me, that he could not afford to let me go to Bluefield. Felt told him that he could not take any bond, and the mayor asked him for the warrant, and he gave the warrant to the mayor. The mayor said it was bogus, it was not legal, and then he shot the mayor. Then the shooting started in general.

 

Chairman:  How many shots were fired?

Hatfield:  Fifty or seventy-five.

Chairman:  How many men did you have with you?

Hatfield: I did not have any men with me at the time they had me arrested.  It was train time and a whole lot of people would meet the train.

Chairman:  Did the people come in to help you arrest them?

Hatfield: I didn’t ask for any help.

Chairman: How many people were killed there?

Hatfield:  Ten, and four shot.

Chairman: Ten killed and four injured.

Hatfield: Yes sir.

Chairman: Of the ten killed, how many were the Baldwin-Felts people?

Hatfield:  Seven.

Chairman:  And the other three were who?

Hatfield:  Bob Mullins.

Chairman:  One was the mayor?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

Chairman:  Who were the other two?

Hatfield:  Bob Mullins and Tod Pinsley (Tot Tinsley)

Chairman:  Were they citizens of the town?

Hatfield: Yes sir.

Chairman: Did you know whether the Baldwin-Felts people had been employed in these labor troubles?

Hatfield:  Mr. Smith, the superintendent of Stone Mountain told us the Baldwin-Felts people were coming.

Chairman:  Are you a member of the United Mine Workers?

Hatfield: No sir.

Chairman:  Have you ever been a miner?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

Chairman:  Or a member of any of their organizations?

Hatfield: No sir.  Nothing only the Odd Fellows and K. P. and Redman.

Chairman:  Were there any troubles after that at Matewan or in that immediate vicinity growing out of the labor situation?

Hatfield:  Not that I remember of right at the present.

Chairman:  You were indicted yourself, Mr. Hatfield?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

Chairman: And you have been tried?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.  I was tried on one occasion.

Chairman:  Were you acquitted?

 Hatfield:  Yes sir.

Senator McKellar:  Let me see if I understand you.  You say that on this particular day you were the marshal of that little town and the mayor directed you to arrest these seven or eight men who were armed?

Hatfield:  Thirteen men.

McKellar:  Thirteen men?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

McKellar:  And the mayor had directed you to arrest them for what?  What were they doing?

Hatfield:  We had an ordinance for nobody to have a gun unless he is an officer.

McKellar:  And these 13 men were there with guns?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

McKellar:  And in that way they were violating the town ordinance?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

McKellar:  Now, let me ask you, how did it happen that the mayor instructed you to arrest them?

Hatfield:  I asked him for a warrant.

McKellar:  You asked him for a warrant?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

McKellar:  You had seen these men there?

Hatfield:  Yes sir.   They came through the town – through the back streets in automobiles.

McKellar:  When you first saw them, when you first talked with them, did they say anything about arresting you?

Hatfield:  No sir. Not when I first talked with them.

McKellar:  They did not say anything about arresting you until you attempted to arrest them?

Hatfield:  No sir.

McKellar:  And then, as I understand you, they said, “Why, we have a warrant for you?”

Hatfield:  Yes sir.

McKellar:  Did they show the warrant?

Hatfield:  They didn’t show it to me.

McKellar:  How did they happen to shoot the mayor?

Hatfield:  When he told them the warrant was bogus and they got up an argument there.

McKellar:  Who shot him?

Hatfield:  Albert Felts.

 

McKellar: Was that the only provocation he had, because the mayor of the city told him that was a bogus warrant?


Hatfield: Well, there had been some argument about throwing people out, over them throwing them out, but that was what was said then he was shot.


McKellar: That was what was said when he was shot?


Hatfield: Yes sir.



(Source: http://www.livelyroots.com/things/celively.htm


 

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The battle resulted in the deaths of seven Baldwin-Felts "detectives" as well as two miners and Mayor Testerman[3]. The battle quickly became famous among miners who celebrated the heavy casualties inflicted on the Baldwin-Felts detectives and viewed Sid Hatfield as a hero. he surviving agents of the Baldwin-Felts agency and its leader, Tom Felts, vowed revenge on Sid Hatfield. On August 1, 1921, Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield as well as one of Sid's friends Ed Chambers, outside the McDowell County, West Virginia courthouse in Welch, West Virginia. The Baldwin-Felts detectives were never arrested or charged for the crime.


Shortly after the Battle of Matewan and the assassination of Sid Hatfield, coal miners from across West Virginia gathered in Charleston, West Virginia. Determined to organize the southern coalfields, they began a march to Logan County. Thousands of miners joined them along the way in what became the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the American Civil War, the Battle of Blair Mountain. This two year "Coal war" resulted in a reported 50 deaths-including the deaths of 3 members of the West Virginia State Police.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matewan_Massacre )


1922 - Great Railroad Strike, a nationwide railroad shop workers strike in the United States

which began on July 1, caused a national outcry. The immediate cause of the strike was the Railroad Labor Board's announcement that hourly wages would be cut by seven cents on July 1, which prompted a shop workers vote on whether or not to strike. The operators' union did not join in the strike, and the railroads employed strikebreakers to fill three-fourths of the roughly 400,000 vacated positions, increasing hostilities between the railroads and the striking workers. 


President Warren G. Harding proposed a settlement on July 28 which would have granted little to the unions, but the railroad companies rejected the compromise despite interest from the desperate workers. Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty, who opposed the unions, pushed for national action against the strike, and on September 1 a federal judge named James H. Wilkerson issued a sweeping injunction against striking, assembling, picketing, and a variety of other union activities, colloquially known as the "Daugherty Injunction."


There was widespread opposition to the injunction and a number of sympathy strikes shut down some railroads completely, but the strike eventually died out as many shopmen made deals with the railroads on the local level.


1930 - Flint (MI) - Workers struck. Issues were pay, foreman physical intimidation, bad workign conditions (dusty work, no water, arbitrary and low pay system (if machine broke down, worker was not paid.) But Flint police force broke strike up violently. 1936, workers decided to use the tactic of occupying the plants.

http://www.historicalvoices.org/flint/organization.php

.

1935 Strikes were finally made legal by the 1935 Wagner Act.


1938 Flint GM sit-down strike. UAW had only been formed in 1935. As Wyndham Mortimer, the UAW officer put in charge of the organizing campaign in Flint, recalled, when he visited Flint in 1936 he received a telephone call within a few minutes of checking into his hotel from an anonymous caller telling him to get back where he came from if he didn't "want to be carried out in a wooden box."

The Union kept up a regular supply of food to the strikers inside while sympathizers marched in support outside.A state court judge issued an injunction ordering the strikers to leave the plant. The UAW discovered, through investigative work, that the judge held roughly $200,000 in GM stock, which disqualified him from hearing any case involving GM.

The Flint police attempted to enter the plant on January 11, 1937. The strikers inside the

plant turned the fire hoses on the police while pelting them with hinges and other auto parts as members of the women's auxiliary broke windows in the plant to give strikers some relief from the tear gas the police were using against them.

The police made several charges, but withdrew after six hours.

GM obtained a second injunction against the strike on February 1, 1937. The union not only ignored the order, but spread the strike to Chevrolet Plant # 4.


GM caved in. In a one page agreement they recognized the UAW as the exclusive bargaining representative for GM's employees who were members of the union for the next six months. As short as this agreement was it gave the UAW instant legitimacy.[2] The UAW capitalized on that opportunity, signing up 100,000 GM employees and building the Union's strength through grievance strikes at GM plants throughout the country. In the next year the UAW saw its membership grow from 30,000 to 500,000 members.

| ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_Sit-Down_Strike )

 

 

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Robert Minor. Pittsburgh (1916)




1941 Ford workers earned 10 cents/hour less than at GM plants They had no lunch rooms and only a 10-15 minute lunch break.. They were expected to works as needed on weekends, but got no extra over-time or holiday pay. In March 1932, unemployed Ford workers marched on the plant and were fired on by Ford security. Four workers were killed. In 1937, union organizers who went to Gate 4 to distribute union literature were beaten up. The UAW joined with the NAACP and it membership boomed. On March 13, 3000 workers sat down to protest the latest firings of union members. On March 18, 1841, 6000 workers sat down until the company agreed to rehire 12 fired unionists. On March 19, another building struck, and the company gave in. Yet on April 1, Ford refused to meet with a union committee in the rolling mill and fired several union workers.

The rolling mill workers stopped production, and the strike spread around the plant. Ford called the Dearborn police and the UAW leadership and asked them to send the workers back to work.

The UAW proposed that Ford rehire the fired workers. The company refused. Two hours later the union declared the strike official.


Ford's Security and 1000 workers stayed in the plant as strikebreakers. They were paid $1 an hour, 24 hours a day. Most were Black-either longtime workers loyal to Ford or new workers brought in for the purpose of breaking the strike. But the picket lines showed Black and white solidarity.

Tens of thousands of workers joined the picket lines at all the gates. There were daily strike bulletins, hourly press statements and 12 radio broadcasts a day. Ten sound trucks got the message out. The workers parked their cars in huge barricades, blocking all entrances to the plant.

The UAW held a rally attended by 16,000-20,000. Promises of support poured in from workers at Chrysler and GM, and from all over the CIO. Homer Martin, a company spy, who posed as the AFL Ford leader, charged that the UAW was communist controlled. There was much fighting.

The union said that 153 workers had required hospitalization since the start of the strike and that six were in serious condition.


After one week of the strike, the NLRB ruled that there must be a collective bargaining

election within 45 days, a departure from the usual 60 days. But the question remained about reinstating the eight workers whose firings had kicked off the strike. The governor and Murray, head of the CIO, proposed to reinstate five of them and arbitrate the cases of the other three later.

Ford agreed that there would be no reprisals against strikers. There was a mass meeting of 20,000 to vote on a settlement. Some opposition arose from those who felt the contract should be won before settling. But the UAW agreed to postpone other complaints until after the union election.

The strike was ended and workers went back to work on April 14.


The UAW had a mass meeting to rally support. Sixty thousand workers and their families

crowded into Cadillac Square in Detroit. On May 21, the election was held on union representation.

The UAW won overwhelmingly while the AFL got 28 percent of the vote. On June 20, the

contract was signed. It provided for the first dues check-off, seniority, and a grievance procedure.

It raised wages to correspond to the rest of the auto industry. There was also a clause prohibiting discrimination. For the first time, the UAW won a union shop

(Source: http://www.geocities.com/mnsocialist/ford1941.html )


Addendum


A number of famous and important lanor struggles were left out from the discussion

above. They include discussion of the


 

Molly Maquires, Cripple Creek - 1894, Joe HillAnthracite Strike- 191-1911, Sacco and Venzetti, San Francisco General Strike of 1934..


 


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Joe Hill was labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World
Because he was a Wobbly, he was framed,  Though one witness ot the murder said he
was not the killer, he was executed for murder in a Utah court and kangaroo trial.

 

 

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On trumped up charges and reflecting the ugly and shameful natavism of the day, two Italian workers
were found guilty o f armed robbery and murder.  They were electrocuted in1927.

 


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Soldiers of the California National Guard patrolling the Embarcadero in July 1934.


 

 

Traditional Union Songs ...