Before Labor Unions and minimum wage, a personal account.

In about 1926, a young orphan college student got a summer job at the coal mines near Raton, New Mexico as a security guard.

The miners were never paid enough to feed their families and lived on credit from the mine owners. They were allowed credit at the “Company Store”. Since they owed more than their pay, they were paid in script only redeemable at the “company store” and each payday they were further in debt to the store.

These miners were not free men but slaves of the rich.

The man who ran the store was notorious among the miners for constant sexual harassment and advances toward their wives when they were trying to buy their groceries.

A group of miners decided to have a meeting to discuss what could be done about this abuse. The young college student stood with them and attended the meeting. The morning after the meeting all men who attended the meeting were fired.

“That made me a union man” was the statement my grandfather used to conclude the story.

This tale cannot be “fact checked”. Nor can I attest to the soundness of his memory, he was over 80 years old when he told me the story. I go only by his reputation for truth and the calm factual manor with which he spoke.

Money is power, power to use and abuse. Unions not only brought a living wage, but safer working conditions and basic human dignity to the miners.

The GOP propaganda campaign demonizing unions is hard at work attempting to return to the 1926 system of abuse. Eliminating the minimum wage, ending SNAP, and destruction of labor unions would return the hard working people of America to the status of slave labor.

The photos below were scanned from the 1927 edition of the “Whispering Pines”, a college yearbook.


Montezuma Baptist College, Las Vegas, New Mexico 1927
Presently, The United World College.

1927 College Freshman

My Grandfather, College Yearbook Photo, 1927

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Before Labor Unions and minimum wage, a personal account.

  1. jenshua

    Very Cool!

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