To commemorate the 1877 Saint Louis general strike, a group of labor activists and other regional community activist organizations are planning an observance on July 10, 2010, from 1:00 to 5:00p.m. The event will take place at Wilson Park in Granite City, lllinois near the corner of 29th and State Streets, across from Niedringhaus Grade School. (Here is a map.)
The event will include nationally known Labor Historians, Jeremy Brecher (Connecticut PublicTelevision and Radio) and Rosemary Feurer (Northern IL Univ.). They bring their knowledge of the rich history of labor unions and social progress for minorities on both sides of the river surrounding St. Louis. Plans also include music of labor and social activism, refreshments,information booths, book sales, and much more.
There will also be musical performances by David Rovics, a nationally known indie singer songwriter and local musician Wayne Schell who is well known to local bluegrass fans as a member of the Lodge Brothers Band.This event remembers when a nation-wide railroad strike made it’s way into the St. Louis area and evolved locally into a complete stoppage of labor and commerce on both sides of the river.Locally, the strike started as a spontaneous action by small groups of workers that expanded to affect the entire Metro area. Despite the fact that violence and vandalism were almost nonexistent, the strike was ended when some 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 deputized special police killed at least eighteen people in skirmishes around the city. The history of organized labor in the St. Louis Metro Area is rich and well established.
The very low unit numbers assigned to so many unions in the region are proof of that. Steelworkers 16, 30,67, 68. Cement Masons 90, Laborers 44, 53, 100, 218. Fitters 101 and 360. Teamsters 50,Bakers 4, Boilermakers 27, Elevator Constructors 3, Gasworkers 5-6, IBEW 1 and 2, Roofers 2, SEIU 1, Firefighters 73, Sheet Metal 36, Typographical 8, Stagehands 6, Autoworkers 110 and136, Asbestos 1, Bricklayers 1. The list, and the history, goes on and on. Perhaps only New York and Chicago can boast such a rich past. This is a family-oriented day of learning, fun, music and remembering of events that are seldom taught in our schools – but played such a large role in the future of labor and commerce in the St. Louis Metro area.