Archive for November, 2009

Union banners stolen from construction site in Sycamore

by , posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Illinois unemployment rate hit 10.5% in September of 2009 and a Kewanee-based company, Jensen Construction, chose to use out-of-state workers to build a $3M building in Sycamore, IL. According to Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the unemployment rate in DeKalb County is 9.2%.

Last week,

union members from a number of trades picketed the construction site using banners. When one picketer left the site to answer an emergency phone call, he returned to find that the banners had been stolen. Unions responded by putting a rat out in front of the construction site.



The Cherry Mine Disaster, 1909

by , posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Cherry, Illinois was a company town. Named after James Cherry, the superintendent of the St. Paul Coal Company, mining operations had begun at Cherry, in the Illinois River Valley of north central Illinois, in 1904 in order to produce coal for the steam engines of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad.

The Cherry operation was considered a safe, modern mine by the day’s standards, but on November 13, 1909, a fire started in the mine when torches used to light the mine after it’s state-of-the-art electrical lighting system had broken down set fire to a coal car full of hay that was being taken to feed the mules living down in the mine. There were 481 miners in the Cherry mine that day; 259 died. At the time it was the most deadly mining disaster the country had ever seen.

What follows is a description of what happened in the mine that day, based on first-hand testimony, excerpted from The Report on the Cherry Mine Disaster, published by the State of Illinois’ Board of Commissioners of Labor in 1910.