Today in labor history: State militia backs workers

Gold miners in Cripple Creek, Colorado, began a five-month strike in 1894, news of which travelled rapidly from one end of the country to the other,

The strike was triggered by a decision made by the company that slashed wages in the mine to $2.50 per day from $3 per day.

For the only time ever in U.S. history the state militia was called out to side with the workers. The union leading the strike was the Western federation of Miners. Surface gold was discovered near Cripple Creek in 1891 and within a few years the area was filled with mines.

In 1894, the mine owners lengthened the workday to ten hours, causing protests. They then shortened the day to eight hours, but cut the pay to $2.50 from $3, triggering the strike,

The miners won the strike with the company forced to retreat. The win also enabled the successful organizing of non-union mines all across the state,

Photo: Cripple Creek miners.



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