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Colorado Labor Wars

February 14, 2012 575 No of hits
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Colorado Labor Wars

The Colorado Labor Wars were a series of events that transpired between the union workers of the Western Federation of Miners and the mine operators in the latter part of the 19^th century and early part of the 20^th century.

In the early days of the labor movement in the United States strikes between unions and employers often resulted in some level of violence. While it definitely takes two sides participating for something to be dubbed a `war,' historians have called the use of violence by the employers the most systematic in the history of the U.S. labor movement.

A significant portion of Colorado's working population in those days consisted of miners, either hard rock or coal; in 1880 nearly 30 percent worked in mining, but by 1900 it was 13.7 percent. Most of them were centered in Central City, Leadville, Telluride, Idaho Springs, and Cripple Creek.

Confrontations were common between the employers and unions in those days. While the state often took the side of the employers, that was not the case in Cripple Creek in 1894. Governor Waite stepped in when both sides appeared armed and ready for serious battle. He had to call the state national guard in to stop the beatings that the employer's army was handing out.

The Leadville Miners' Strike in 1896 was the first real test for the union. Even though the membership had been warned not to do anything illegal, the mine was the site of numerous shootings and explosions, the worst violence coming on September 16 in the Coronado and Robert Emmet mines. The military had to be called in to regain control.

One of the more serious confrontations occurred at Cripple Creek in 1903. The miners there had decided to strike in support of the miners in Colorado City. However, the miners in Cripple Creek had to deal with the Cripple Creek Mine Owners Association and its vigilante arm, the Cripple Creek Citizens Alliance.

For the better part of a year there were incidents of violence that broke out all across the region since people were typically on one side or the other. Troops were eventually sent in, but not just to end the strike; they were told to crush the union as well.

Tags:   Colorado Labor Wars   Cripple Creek   Leadville Miners' Strike   Cripple Creek Mine Owners Association   Western Federation of Miners   Cripple Creek Citizens Alliance  

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The Colorado Labor Wars were a series of events that transpired between the union workers of the Western Federation of Miners and the mine operators in the latter part of the 19^th century and early part of the 20^th century.

In the early days of the labor movement in the United...

By: Richard Martine Created 75 months ago

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