On October 17, 1950, in the Grant County town of Hanover, New Mexico, workers at the Empire Zinc mine finished their shifts, formed a picket line, and began a fifteen- month strike. Represented by Local 890 of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers (Mine-Mill), the miners, overwhelmingly Mexican American, had voted to strike after reaching an impasse with the company over “collar-to-collar” pay (rather than paying only for the time workers spent at their individual work places inside the mine), lack of paid holidays, and the high number of job classifications (which allowed the company to reserve the lowest-paying jobs for Mexican Americans—the “Mexican wage”). In June 1951, after the strikers had shut down production for eight months, the company obtained an injunction against any further picketing. Wary of the mass jailings and massive fines that would result from violating...

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