Railroad – Chinese Labor Strike, June 24th , 1867

24 June 2019
Voices from the Railroad:Stories by descendants of Chinese railroad workers, published by the Chinese Historical Society of
America, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Library Collection

While Chinese working on the First Transcontinental Railroad were often tasked with more dangerous work and longer hours than white workers, they made less than half the wages of their white counterparts and had to cover the cost of their food. On June 19th , 1867, a massive tunnel explosion killed one white worker and five Chinese workers. The last straw for the overworked, underpaid Chinese. On June 24th , three thousand Chinese workers spanning over thirty miles of tracks began a highly organized strike. The strikers demanded wages equivalent to their white counterparts and shorter hours, especially in the cramped, dangerous tunnels. The non-violent strike posed a lethal threat to Leland Stanford’s timely completion of the railroad, but Stanford ultimately undercut their show of force by cutting off all provisions to Chinese workers.

After eight days, the strike ended without any of the Chinese workers’ demands having been met, although over the next several months the company quietly raised the wage for more experienced workers. Still, the strike was no failure – through their massively coordinated effort, the Chinese workers not only demonstrated to the CPRR that it could not take the Chinese workforce for granted but challenged the prevailing racial stereotype of Chinese as passive, obedient, and without personhood. The legacy of this historic strike lives on in the continued struggle of Chinese Americans to receive adequate pay and safe working conditions, such as in the famed 1982 Chinatown Garment Strike of tens of thousands of immigrant women workers in New York.


8天后, 罢工结束,中国工人的任何要求都没有得到满足,尽管在接下来的几个月里,公司悄悄提高了比较有经验的工人的工资。当然,这场罢工并不是完全失败的——通过大规模协调努力, 中国工人不仅向中央太平洋铁路公司证明了他们不能把中国工人的努力视为理所当然,并且挑战了普遍存在的认为中国工人被动、顺从和没有人格的种族成见。这一历史性罢工的遗产在华裔美国人争取足够工资和安全工作条件的持续斗争中得以延续,例如1982年著名的唐人街服装工人罢工,当时纽约数万名移民女工参加了罢工。

Countdown to the TCS NYC Marathon on November 3, 2019: 216 Days.

2019年是美国第一条横贯大陆铁路建成150周年,为了纪念第一批华人来美建设这条铁路所做出的巨大贡献, MOCA将其2019 TCS NYC Marathon的活动命名为 MOCA Spike 150 – Running Forward With Our Stories! 鼓励大家通过马拉松公益跑,全国线上接力,以及一天一个故事的方式讲述150个华人的历史故事,敬请大家持续关注, 讲出华人自己的故事,回顾过去,立足现在,展望未来,共同书写美国历史,使之更加充实完整。

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