BlueCollarWriter Labor News Update


Labor News Update - 09/6/2023

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Labor History in 2:00

September 6 - Thursday, Bloody ThursdayOn this day in labor history, the year was 1934. That was the day that became known as “Bloody Thursday.” Seven striking workers were shot dead and another 30 wounded at the Chiquola Mill in Honea Path, South Carolina.  The Great Textile Strike of 1934 had started September 1. The twenty-two day strike spanned the eastern United States, from New England to Georgia and involved close to half a million workers. The main issue was the dreaded “stretch out,” increased workloads at the same or even reduced pay rates.  Striking textile workers implemented the flying picket squad tactic employed by Minneapolis Teamsters earlier that summer. Hundreds drove from mill to mill to prevent scabbing. Mill executives across the Piedmont were stunned and terrified at the strike’s effectiveness and the workers’ militancy.  Strikers at the Chiquola Mill had formed solid picket lines at the gate when scabs and special deputies armed by the mill’s owner, opened fire. All seven were shot in the back as they tried to escape the hail of bullets.  According to a New York Times article the following day, the killings marked “the beginning of the second bloody phase of the strike as one town after another reported completion of preparations to resist the flying squads and the picketing activity of the strikers.”  Frank Beacham, the grandson of Chiquola Mill owner and mayor of Honea Path, Dan Beacham, has worked to unearth the history of the massacre and apologize for his grandfather’s cruelty. He notes that, as in many southern mill towns, after the strike went down to defeat, those who struck were fired and blacklisted. Those who retained their jobs essentially took a vow of silence never to discuss the strike or massacre again.
September 6 - Jane Addams is BornOn this day in Labor History the year was 1860.      That was the day that Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois.      Her family was wealthy and her father served as a state senator.      In 1881, Jane Adams visited London with her friend Ellen Gates Starr.      There the two women were inspired by Toynbee Hall, a settlement house which worked with the poor and working class in the city.      They decided to establish a similar effort in Chicago.      They founded Hull House in an immigrant neighborhood of Italian, Greek and Jewish workers.      Hull House grew to become a complex of facilities that offered kindergarten, day care, lectures and cultural programs, and an important space for women trade unionists to hold meetings.     The women of Hull house became one of the leading proponents for workplace safety in the nation, pushing for laws and reforms to help workers.       During the 1894 Pullman workers strike, Jane Addams visited the community and had meals with the women workers.       She was able to convince the workers’ strike committee to agree to sit down to arbitration, but the Pullman company officials staunchly refused to negotiate.     The refusal of the company to bargain, and the rising anger of the workers was an eye-opener for Jane.       Later she reflected, “During all those dark days of the Pullman strike, the growth of class bitterness was most obvious.”     Before the strike, she wrote, “there had been nothing in my experience [that had]reveal[ed] that distinct cleavage of society which a general strike at least momentarily affords.”      In 1931 Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her life-long advocacy for working class women and children and her strong stand for peace during World War I. 

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