Remember Union Violence In America On Labor Day

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by Jeff Dunetz at

Something usually not discussed on Labor Day weekend is the violence and thuggery, which has always been part of the union movement. And it still happens. The history of the labor movement in the U.S. is littered with extremists who use violence to get their way. Sometimes, their objectives were legitimate when violence was used, but their methods weren’t.

At the beginning of the union movement, the violence was outward-directed toward the government, management, or the police, who were using violence to destroy the labor movement. As the movement matured, the abuse became directed inward, targeted towards keeping the rank and file “in line,” going after replacement workers, or sabotaging the company under siege. Like the fictional Johnny Friendly bullied Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) in “On The Waterfront,” real live union bosses rule with an iron fist.

Union thuggery/violence has also become a political weapon, attacking members of the public who may disagree with the progressive-socialist politics championed by union management.

Here are a few examples of violence committed by Big Labor to show the evolution of union violence. Starting with:

Led by the Knights of Labor (one of the first national unions), workers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. in Chicago began a strike, hoping to gain an 8-hour work day. Two days later, on May 3, police were used to protect strikebreakers, and a scuffle broke out; one person was killed and several others injured.

On Tuesday, May 4, a mass meeting of workers was called to protest the police actions the previous day. A crowd of 20,000 had been expected, but it was a cold rainy day, so only about 2,500 showed up to hear speeches by Albert Parsons, Samuel Fielden, and August Spies.

Responding to pressure from businessmen, 600 police reserves were called on duty that night at the West Chicago, Harrison, and Central stations near the site of the protests. An extra 100 officers were added to the Des Plains station, less than a half-block from Haymarket Square.

The rally began at 8:30 p.m., and the crowd was calm (and wet from the rain). Chicago Mayor Harrison rode by on his horse a short time later and was satisfied that the protest was peaceful. He ordered the police inspector to send the reserve officers. The police inspector refused, and two hours later, he ordered his men to disperse the crowd. The speakers were approached by Police Captain William Ward, who commanded the meeting to end in the “name of the people of Illinois.” A pipe bomb was thrown from a vestibule at Randolph and Des Plains Streets. The bomb exploded in the middle of a column of po ice. One officer was killed instantly, and six others were mortally wounded. The remaining officers quickly recovered and began shooting wildly into the fleeing crowd of laborers. The shooting continued for more than five minutes

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