Today in Labor History June 6, 1778: The U.S. abolished debtor’s prisons, though debtors continued to flourish and creditors came up with numerous other ways to punish them.
The Paris Uprising of 1832
June 6, 1832: French monarchist forces put down the June Rebellion (AKA the Paris Uprising of 1832). The uprising, lasting from June 5-6, involved Republicans trying to overthrow the monarchy. The uprising played a prominent role in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.” In addition to anger over the persistence of the monarchy, the population was furious over their poverty and the vast wealth gap between the classes. Crop failures, food shortages and high inflation also contributed to the uprising. And a cholera outbreak earlier in the year had killed over 18,000 Parisians (over 100,000 French, in total). Also preceding this rebellion was the Canut workers revolt in Lyon.
“The Society of the Rights of Man,” a Jacobin organization, led the uprising. They had a well-organized army and they were supported by workers of many nationalities, including Polish, Italian and German refugees. Initially, the rebels were victorious, conquering major portions of Paris. However, on the night of June 5, 20,000 National Guardsmen, bolstered by 40,000 regular army troops, surrounded the rebels and ultimately put them down by June 6.
The Cripple Creek Miners’ Strike
Today in Labor History June 6, 1894: Colorado’s governor sent in the Colorado state militia to support the Cripple Creek miners’ strike, the only time in history that a state militia was used to support a union’s struggle, rather than to suppress it.
The mine owners were demanding a 10-hour day without an increase in pay. In response, the miners went on strike. There was considerable violence from both sides during the strike, led by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM). On March 16, some miners ambushed, shot and beat some sheriff’s deputies. The judge, a WFM member, let the miners off, but charged the deputies with carrying concealed weapons.
Furious, the Sheriff arrested 20 union leaders. Meanwhile, the mine owners conspired to bring in hundreds of scabs and deputized vigilantes. When the new deputies marched on the strikers’ camp, the miners blew up several mine structures, forcing the deputies to flee. The mine owners hired hundreds more vigilantes for their army. When he heard about the size of the miner owners’ force, the governor declared the deputies illegal and sent in state troops to defend the miners.
On June 5, the day before the state troops arrived, the mine owners’ army began cutting telegraph lines and arresting reporters and hundreds of town residents. When the state troops arrived, there were already gun battles going on between the vigilante army and the miners. However, the state troops gained control of the town relatively quickly and the mine owners disbanded their army and sent them home.
300 miners were arrested, but only four were convicted. And the populist governor pardoned them all. The WFM won, keeping the 8-hour day and their $3/day wages. And, they were so popular because of their victory, that they easily organized most of the other industries in the region (e.g., waitress, laundry workers, bartenders, newsboys) into 54 new locals.
June 6, 1937: A general strike by 12,000 autoworkers and others in Lansing, MI shut down the city for a month in what was to become known as the city’s “Labor Holiday.” The strike was precipitated by the arrest of nine workers, including the wife of the auto workers local union president: The arrest left three children in the couple’s home unattended.
Today in Labor History June 6, 1944: 24,000 British, U.S. and Canadian troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, for the suicidal assault known as D-Day. An estimated 10,000 allied troops died as a result.
Today in Labor History June 6, 1982: Israel invaded Lebanon, remaining until June 6, 1985. Ariel Sharon led the war. He later became prime minister, despite the Kahan Commission later finding him culpable for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and recommending that he be removed from office. The UN declared the massacre an act of genocide. Other international commissions declared the entire war an act of aggression by Israel and full of human rights violations.
By the end of the war, Israel had lost over 650 soldiers. However, Israel killed up to 2,400 PLO militants and 1,200 Syria soldiers, and as many as 20,000 civilians were killed during the war. As a result of Israeli aggression and barbarity in this war, public opinion briefly turned against Israel. In response, Israel hired some of the best PR people in the world to clean up their image and change the future discourse to one in which Israel is always the victim, always has the right to defend itself and anyone who disagrees is an antisemite.