Week 4 Assignment – Labor Strikes
The Ludlow Massacre was a violent strike that lead to a conflict between the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and The Colorado Fuel and Iron company. The UMWA was organized due to the poor conditions that Colorado coal miners had to endure. There was constant risk of explosions and collapses. The coal miners were paid by the tonnage so other work that had to be done was not paid for. Colliers would have to live in company towns that were owned by the owners of the mines so it seemed more like a dictatorship than a democracy. After the forming and organizing of the UMWA for many years then finally they set decided on the Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel and Iron company. In 1913 the union gave the company a list of demands including increase in tonnage rates, that the union would be the worker’s bargaining agent, paid for “dead work” which is work that was not normally paid for, their own check-men to watch the company check-men, the right to take up boarding and shop where they pleased, and to follow Colorado labor laws. When these demands were denied then the workers went on strike abandoning their homes and moving into tent towns set up by the union.
The Colorado National Guard was called in on October 1913 by the governor due to strike violence from the agency that the mine owners had hired to harass the strikers. The National Guard ran out of money by the spring of 1914 and had to be recalled. The Governer left 2 guard units and allowed the coal companies to form militias which were camp guards in National Guard uniforms. On April 20th the militia said a man was being held against his will and demanded his release. Two factions of the militia took machine guns and began a gunfight with the strikers. The battle went on all day when finally a freight train passed in front of the militia group allowing the strikers to escape. One of the worst incidents during this battle was the matter of four women and...