Home > Cons-Lie, Economy, Employment rights > Happy Labor Day Mother Jones

Happy Labor Day Mother Jones

    In honor of Labor Day, I thought I’d take this opportunity to start a series of posts that I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I’m going to do a short tribute to heroes of the left, and I’m going to start with Mary Harris Jones, otherwise known as Mother Jones.

Mother Jones was born in Cork, Ireland in 1837 and immigrated with her family to the U.S. as a child in order to escape the Irish Potato Famine. In her twenties she married George Jones, a die-hard union man. They had four children together, but in 1867 yellow fever killed her husband and children. After the tragedy, she opened a dress shop in Chicago, but lost everything she owned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

    It was at this point that Mary Harris Jones began to travel the country working in support of unions and worker’s rights. She became known as “Mother” Jones to workers because of the way she cared for working men and women.

    Usually dressed in black, she spoke fiercely to workers and in support of workers.  She helped motivate striking and organizing people nationwide and drew national attention to unfair labor practices. Jones is partially responsible for many things most Americans now take for granted: the 8-hour work day, 40-hour work weeks, safe working conditions, and the right to organize and bargain in good faith.

    She even helped end brutal child labor practices. In 1903, Jones led a parade of about 100 children from their jobs in textile mills in Philadelphia all the way to New York City and the Long Island home of President Theodore Roosevelt. Many of the children were maimed by factory equipment that they were exploited to repair and operate due to their small statures and ability to fit inside the machines. Many of the child laborers of the early 20th century died before adulthood due to unsafe working conditions and 16-(or more)hour work days. The overwhelming majority of them were unable to attend school.

    Mother Jones spent almost the entirety of her adult life in service to the working men, women and children of this nation. In 1924, she appeared publicly for the last time in Chicago in support of garment workers at the age of 88. She died in 1930 and is buried in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois.

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