Labor Movement and Unions 1912

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Labor Day was Sept. 3, 2012. It was once a big holiday where communities celebrated the accomplishments and progress of the labor movement.

In 1912, the unions and the labor movement were struggling against the corporations for better working conditions, pay, the right to organize, and even racial equality. Nationally unions were in a battle with the corporations or capitalists as they were called in the newspapers back then. In Arizona mining and the railroads were becoming a big part of Arizona’s economy as well as the political leadership of the new state.

Bisbee Daily Review – January 21, 1912

Phoenix, January 20 – Forty four delegates representing every labor organization in Arizona with a total of 7,000, met here today and formed the Arizona State Federation of Labor. E.B. Simonson, of Globe, was elected President and Harvey P. Gree, of Phoenix, Secretary.

They will serve until officers are elected by a referendum vote of the federation. Committees on constitution, rules, legislation and resolutions were appointed and their reports will be heard tomorrow.

Tombstone Epitaph – September 29, 1912


Because of a refusal to grant them an increase in wages, sixty Mexican miners at the C & A mines in Courtland have gone on strike. The raise asked for was 50 cents a day.

As a result of the walkout the mines are now closed down, while other men are secured to fill the deserted positions. In Gleeson, about three miles from Courtland, there is much bitter feeling on the part of the Mexicans against the mine operators who only employ white labor, and the walkout at Courtland has tended to complicate matters.

Application was made to Superintendent Thiers of the Tejon Mining Co. by a Mexican for employment and was refused, the other day. The same day, while walking along with the lantern, shots were fired at the Superintendent, breaking the lantern, but not injuring him.

Historical note: Courtland and Gleeson are ghost towns located about 15 miles from Tombstone. They were boomtowns in the early 1900s but died out after the mines stopped producing. The C & A mine was the Calumet and Arizona mine. It was one of four mines located at Courtland.

Tombstone Epitaph – April 7, 1912

A Morenci dispatch says: Seven hundred Mexicans held a meeting here last night and organized for the purpose of securing naturalization papers and becoming citizens of the United States.

Of the 700 men at the meeting 250 are already citizens, and the purpose of the gathering was to protect themselves from the injury that Senate Bill No. 21 would inflict upon their countrymen in Arizona. Morenci, Clifton, Ray and various other mines in the new state, where Mexicans are employed, have joined in a like movement.

Bisbee Daily Review – April 2, 1912

A meeting of 2,000 Mexican miners and smelter workers was held at Ray this afternoon to protest against the passage of the Kinney bill, which provides that only English speaking people shall be employed in positions of authority in mines and other places where work is hazardous. Ray is a mining and smelting town seventy miles east of here.


Arizona Republican – April 4, 1910

Hayden April 3 – Mexican citizens of Ray have been holding Kinney bill meetings every night since Monday. More than 2,000 gathered last night with a band and speeches and signed a monster petition begging that a provision giving consideration to people who have been residents of this section for two hundred years.

Many miners not qualified in English have families living in Arizona that subsist on wages sent from here. But a majority have families with them. Ray Consolidated employs 1500 Mexicans who support a population of 7,000 in Sonora.

The protesters believe that the treaty under which Mexico ceded this section of the country to the United States is broken if the measure becomes a law. An arrangement is materializing to mould the voters in the state into a body to defeat any person or measure which seeks to arouse prejudice. This element holds the balance of power in this and some other counties.

Tombstone Epitaph – May 19. 1912

The Kinney anti-alien labor bill was pigeonholed in the House and probably will not be passed at this session. The governor has signed the child labor law, the eight hour day in mines and smelters, and several other bills of minor importance.

Graham Guardian – August 30, 1912

Miami is to give the greatest Labor Day celebration next Monday that has ever been seen in the southwest. Every detail has been worked out. There will be a continuous round of pleasure from the time the train arrives until it leaves.

The Safford Brass Band will attend the Miami celebration in full dress uniform. The excursion train will leave Solomon at 6:50 am, Safford, 7:02 Thatcher 7:09, Pima 7:19. The rate is one fare for the round trip.

Graham Guardian – August 23, 1912

The people of Miami have completed their arrangements for one of the grandest Labor Day celebrations ever given in the southwest, and are prepared to entertain an immense crowd.

There will be a baseball game between a valley team and Miami for $250, horse races, cricket match, hose race, water fights, relay foot races, ring tournament, pony race, burro race, fat man’s race, egg race, fat women’s race, pipe race, potato race, 3-legged race, sack race and a number of other contests, all for prizes, besides immense barbecue.

Tombstone Epitaph – August 25, 1912

A bull dog fight for a wager of $400 the match to be conducted under rules and rounds of three minutes each is scheduled as a Labor Day attraction at Courtland on September 2.

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