Today in labor history: The murder of Fannie Sellins

On August 26, 1919, Fannie Sellins and Joseph Starzeleski were murdered by coal company guards on a picket line in Brackenridge, Pa. Sellins was a United Mine Workers of America organizer and Starzeleski was a miner. Sellins was 47 years old. No one was ever punished for the crime.

Miners that summer were striking against the Allegheny Coal and Coke Company and there was a showdown on August 26 between company guards and the strikers outside the company’s mine in Brackenridge.

The Illinois Labor History Society includes a detailed report, here.

An account in the September 20, 1919, New Majority describes the scene:
The mine official snatched a club and felled the woman to the ground.
This was not on company ground, but just outside the fence of a friend of Mrs. Sellins.
She rose and tried to drag herself toward the gate
[The official] shouted: “Kill that –!
Three shots were fired, each taking effect.
She fell to the ground, and [the official] cried: “Give her another!”

William Z. Foster, leader of the great steel strike of 1919, called Sellins one of the best of a whole corps of organizers, with an exceptional belief in the workers. “She took the initiative and in the midst of terror went out to her work.”

Sellins was a contemporary of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, and like Jones, her work as a female labor organizer was radical, especially for that period of time, according to Anthony Slomkoski, former president of United Steelworkers Local No. 1196, in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.

Photo: Fannie Sellins. Wikipedia Fair use

 


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Special to PeoplesWorld.org
Special to PeoplesWorld.org

Peoplesworld.org is a daily news website of, for and by the 99% and the direct descendant of the Daily Worker. Published by Long View Publishing Co., People’s World reports on the movements for jobs, peace, equality, democracy, civil rights and liberties, labor, immigrant, LGBT and women’s rights, protection of the environment, and more.

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