This week’s Heartlanders are the victims of the Ludlow Massacre, the deceased and their survivors.
100 years ago this Sunday (Easter Sunday, 4/20 pothead convention Sunday), a coal mining company went to war with its own employees, and killed sixty-six people in what is known as the Colorado Coalfield War. The victims included eleven children and two women killed when their tent city (e.g., neighborhood) was fired upon with machine guns by agents of John D. Rockefeller.
A lot of people probably think mining is some kind simpleton’s job. Go into a mine, take out coal. It’s a bit more complicated than that, especially if you don’t want a massive explosion to screw up your mine. Of course, that didn’t stop turn of the 20th Century industrial robber barons from twisting the screws with workers, any more than it stops turn of the 21st Century Corporate America from reigning terror with cyclical layoffs, transfers, up or out career tracks, mass recruiting followed by mass departure.
In some ways, I guess you can’t argue but incidents like Ludlow and Triangle Shirtwaist changed America, changed the workplace, changed how Americans thought about jobs. I wonder what it takes to get companies to realize that shooting your employees (or their families) is shooting themselves in the foot. The employees are the company, moreso even than buildings and equipment and raw materials.
Certainly today starting something that could be called a “war” with employees would be considered completely unacceptable. But then again, today’s “wars” aren’t just fought with guns. They are fought by the Edward Snowden’s and cyber attacks on drinking water purification plants and oil prices and technology transfer. Is it different, or just not as obvious?
To Progress, let it be Real.