July 5 - "Bloody Thursday"

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The Rick Smith Show Logo  fiber_manual_record  Jul 6th, 2021


On this day in labor history the year was 1934.

That was the day known as Bloody Thursday.

The historic West Coast Maritime Strike had been raging since May 9.

Longshoremen refused to cede to the Industrial Association, determined to open the ports by force.

The shipping bosses had rejected strikers’ demands, including a union hiring hall and recognition of offshore unions.

By July 3, picketers had been fighting for hours to stop trucks sent into move cargo under police protection, as bosses attempted to open the ports.

At 8 a.m. on this day, a line of strikebreaking trucks emerged.

Thousands of strike squads amassed in the warehouse district.

The Battle of Rincon Hill had begun.

The fighting continued through the afternoon in the center of the Embarcadero as strikers attempted to stop scab freight cars.

By the time it was over, longshoreman Howard Sperry and strike supporter, Nick Bordoise lay dead from police bullets.

30 strikers had been shot and dozens more lay in the hospital, some critically wounded.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “Blood ran red in the streets of San Francisco.”

In Workers on the Waterfront, Bruce Nelson notes, “Bloody Thursday was an epic moment. Strikers conducted themselves with remarkable precision and imagination in the face of three successive assaults by policemen who were using their firearms feely and laying down a barrage of tear gas bombs.

Donald MacKenzie Brown, the businessman eyewitness, was overawed by the workers ‘insane courage;’ “in the face of bullets, gas, clubs, horse hoofs, death; against fast patrol cars and the radio, they fought back with rocks and bolts till the street was a mass of debris. They were fighting desperately for something that seemed to be life for them.”

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