Today in labor history, June 30, 1928: Alabama outlaws the leasing of convicts to mine coal, a practice that had been in place since 1848. In 1898, 73 percent of the state’s total revenue came from this source. 25 percent of all African-American leased convicts died.
Today in labor history: August 13, 1892: Grundy County, TN, miners tear down the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railway Company’s stockade — which housed the company’s convict workers — at Tracy City. In response to similar actions over the next few days, the governor dispatched 583 militiamen; hundreds of miners were arrested. The state began the practice of leasing its convicts (75% of whom were African-American) to companies willing to pay for the inmates’ housing in exchange for their labor in 1866.