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Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017

March 06
The Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, a union of mariners, fishermen and boatmen working aboard U.S. flag vessels, is founded in San Francisco – 1885

The Knights of Labor picket to protest the practices of the Southwestern Railroad system, and the company’s chief, high-flying Wall Street financier Jay Gould. Some 9,000 workers walked off the job, halting service on 5,000 miles of track. The workers held out for two months, many suffering from hunger, before they finally returned to work – 1886

Joe Hill’s song “There is Power in a Union” appears in Little Red Song Book, published by the Wobblies – 1913

With the Great Depression underway, hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers demonstrated in some 30 cities and towns; close to 100,000 filled Union Square in New York City and were attacked by mounted police – 1930

Int’l Brotherhood of Paper Makers merges with United Paperworkers of America to become United Papermakers & Paperworkers – 1957

The federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act is enacted – 1970

Predominantly young workers at a Lordstown, Ohio, GM assembly plant stage a wildcat strike, largely Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017in objection to the grueling work pace: at 101.6 cars per hour, their assembly line was believed to be the fastest in the world – 1972

President Jimmy Carter invoked the Taft-Hartley law to halt the 1977-78 national contract strike by the United Mine Workers of America. The order was ignored and Carter did little to enforce it. A settlement was reached in late March – 1978

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the nation’s unemployment rate soared to 8.1 percent in February, the highest since late 1983, as cost-cutting employers slashed 651,000 jobs amid a deepening recession – 2009 

March 07
Some 6,000 shoemakers, joined by about 20,000 other workers, strike in Lynn, Mass. They won raises, but not recognition of their union – 1860

Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017Three thousand unemployed auto workers, led by the Communist Party of America, braved the cold in Dearborn, Mich., to demand jobs and relief from Henry Ford. The marchers got too close to the gate and were gassed. After re-grouping, they were sprayed with water and shot at. Four men died immediately; 60 were wounded – 1932

Steel Workers Organizing Committee—soon to become the United Steel Workers—signs its first-ever contract, with Carnegie-Illinois, for $5 a day in wages, benefits – 1937

IWW founder and labor organizer Lucy Parsons dies – 1942

Hollywood writers represented by the Writers Guild of America strike against 200 television and movie studios over residuals payments and creative rights. The successful strike lasted 150 days, one of the longest in industry history – 1988

Musicians strike Broadway musicals and shows go dark when actors and stagehands honor picket lines. The strike was resolved after four days – 2003

March 08Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017
Thousands of New York needle trades workers demonstrate for higher wages, shorter workday, and end to child labor. The demonstration became the basis for International Women’s Day – 1908

Three explosions at a Utah Fuel Co. mine in Castle Gate, Utah, kill 171. Fifty of the fatalities were native-born Greeks, 25 were Italians, 32 English or Scots, 12 Welsh, four Japanese, and three Austrians (or South Slavs). The youngest victim was 15; the oldest, 73 – 1924

New York members of the Fur and Leather Workers Union, many of them women, strike for better pay and conditions. They persevere despite beatings by police, winning a 10-percent wage increase and five-day work week – 1926

The Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act took effect on this day. It limits the ability of federal judges to issue injunctions against workers and unions involved in labor disputes – 1932

César Chávez leads 5,000 striking farmworkers on a march through the streets of Salinas, Calif. – 1979

Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017(The Fight in the Fields: No man in this century has had more of an impact on the lives of Hispanic Americans, and especially farmworkers, than the legendary Cesar Chavez. This book tells of Chavez and his union’s struggles: to raise farmworker pay from .40 an hour; to win union recognition from savagely resistant grape and lettuce growers; to stop the use of deadly pesticides that were killing children in the fields. The pacifist Chavez endured several month-long fasts to counteract what he saw as a growing tendency toward violence in the farmworker movement, and many think those heroic acts contributed to his early death, at the age of 64.)

March 09
The Westmoreland County (Pa.) Coal Strike—known as the “Slovak strike” because some 70 percent of the 15,000 strikers were Slovakian immigrants—begins on this date and continues for nearly 16 months before ending in defeat. Sixteen miners and family members were killed during the strike – 1912
Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017
Spurred by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. Congress begins its 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation.  Just one of many programs established to help Americans survive the Great Depression: The Civilian Conservation Corps, which put 2.5 million young men on the government payroll to help in national conservation and infrastructure projects – 1933

Work begins on the $8 billion, 800-mile-long Alaska Oil pipeline connecting oil fields in northern Alaska to the sea port at Valdez. Tens of thousands of people worked on the pipeline, enduring long hours, cold temperatures and brutal conditions. At least 32 died on the job – 1974

March 10
U.S. Supreme Court upholds espionage conviction of labor leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs. Debs was jailed for speaking out against World War I. Campaigning for president from his Atlanta jail cell, he won 3.4 percent of the vote—nearly a million votes – 1919

Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. Debs was a labor activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the heart and soul of the nation’s working people. He was brilliant, sincere, compassionate and scrupulously honest. A founder of one of the nation’s first industrial unions, the American Railway Union, he went on to help launch the Industrial Workers of the World — the Wobblies. A man of firm beliefs and dedication, he ran for President of the United States five times under the banner of the Socialist Party, in 1912 earning 6 percent of the popular vote.)

New York City bus drivers, members of the Transport Workers Union, go on strike. After 12 days of no Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017buses—and a large show of force by Irish-American strikers at the St. Patrick’s Day parade—Mayor Fiorello La Guardia orders arbitration – 1941

United Farm Workers leader César Chávez breaks a 24-day fast, by doctor’s order, at a mass in Delano, California’s public park. Several thousand supporters are at his side, including Sen. Robert Kennedy. Chavez called it “a fast for non-violence and a call to sacrifice” – 1968

Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017March 11
Luddites smash 63 “labor saving” textile machines near Nottingham, England – 1811

Transport Workers Union members at American Airlines win 11-day national strike, gaining what the union says was the first severance pay clause in industry – 1950

March 12
Greedy industrialist turned benevolent philanthropist Andrew Carnegie pledges $5.2 million for the construction of 65 branch libraries in New York City—barely 1 percent of his net worth at the time. He established more than 2,500 libraries between 1900 and 1919 following years of treating workers in his steel plants brutally, demanding long hours in horrible conditions and fighting their efforts to unionize. Carnegie made $500 million when he sold out to J.P. Morgan, becoming the world’s richest man – 1901

The first tunnel under the Hudson River is completed after 30 years of drilling, connecting Jersey City and Manhattan. In just one of many tragedies during the project, 20 workers died on a single day in 1880 when the tunnel flooded – 1904
Today in labor history for the week of March 6, 2017
The Lawrence, Mass., “Bread and Roses” textile strike ends when the American Woolen Co. agrees to most of the strikers’ demands; other textile companies quickly followed suit – 1912

Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995, born in Camden, S.C. – 1922

Steelworkers approve a settlement with Oregon Steel Mills, Inc. and its CF&I Steel subsidiary, ending the longest labor dispute in the USWA’s history and resulting in more than $100 million in back pay for workers – 2004

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017

This Week in Labor History
February 27
Legendary labor leader and socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs becomes charter member and secretary of the Vigo Lodge, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. Five years later he is leading the national union and in 1893 helps found the nation’s first industrial union, the American Railway Union – 1875

Birth of John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif.  Steinbeck is best known for writing The Grapes of Wrath, which exposed the mistreatment of migrant farm workers during the Depression and led to some reforms – 1902

Thirty-eight miners die in a coal mine explosion in Boissevain, Va. – 1932

Four hundred fifty Woolworth’s workers and customers occupy store for eight Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017days in support of Waiters and Waitresses Union, Detroit – 1937

The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal – 1939

Mine disaster kills 75 at Red Lodge, Mont. – 1943

February 28
U.S. Supreme Court finds that a Utah state law limiting mine and smelter workers to an 8-hour workday is constitutional – 1898

(Actually Leap Year Feb. 29) The minimum age allowed by law for workers in mills, factories, and mines in South Carolina is raised from 12 to 14 – 1915

Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017(Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor: Your heart will be broken by this exceptional book’s photographs of children at backbreaking, often life-threatening work, and the accompanying commentary by author Russell Freedman. Photographer Lewis Hine—who himself died in poverty in 1940—did as much, and perhaps more, than any social critic in the early part of the 20th century to expose the abuse of children, as young as three and four, by American capitalism.)

Members of the Chinese Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in San Francisco’s Chinatown begin what is to be a successful four-month strike for better wages and conditions at the National Dollar Stores factory Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017and three retail outlets – 1938

(Actually leap year Feb. 29) Screen Actors Guild member Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African-American to win an Academy Award, honored for her portrayal of “Mammy” in “Gone with the Wind” – 1940

In response to the layoff of 450 union members at a 3M factory in New Jersey, every worker at a 3M factory in Elandsfontein, South Africa, walks off the job in sympathy – 1986

Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017March 01
The Granite Cutters National Union begins what is to be a successful nationwide strike for the 8-hour day. Also won: union recognition, wage increases, a grievance procedure and a minimum wage scale – 1900

Joseph Curran is born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At age 16 he joined the Merchant Marines and in 1937 went on to lead the formation of the National Maritime Union. He was the union’s founding president and held the post until 1973, when he resigned amidst corruption charges. He died in 1981 – 1906

IWW strikes Portland, Ore., sawmills – 1907

An article in the March 1936 edition of the magazine Popular Science lists what it terms “the world’s craziest jobs,” all of them in Hollywood. Included: Horse-tail painter (to make the tails stand out better in the movies); bone-bleacher (for animal skeletons in Westerns); and chorus-girl weigher, whose function the article did not make terribly clear – 1936

Sailors aboard the S.S. California, docked in San Pedro, Calif., refuse to cast off the lines and allow the ship to sail until their wages are increased and overtime paid. The job action lasts three days before the secretary of labor intervenes and an agreement is reached. The leaders were fined two days’ pay, fired and blacklisted, although charges of mutiny were dropped. The action marked the beginnings of the National Maritime Union – 1936

After five years of labor by 21,000 workers, 112 of whom were killed on the job, the Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam) is completed and turned over to the government. Citizens were so mad at President Herbert Hoover, for whom the dam had been named, that it was later changed to Boulder Dam, being located near Boulder City, Nev. – 1936Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017

CIO president John L. Lewis and U.S. Steel President Myron Taylor sign a landmark contract in which the bitterly anti-union company officially recognized the CIO as sole negotiator for the company’s unionized workers. Included: the adoption of overtime pay, the 40-hour work week, and a big pay hike – 1937

The federal minimum wage increases to $1 per hour – 1956

March 02
Postal workers granted 8-hour day – 1913

Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017(From the Folks Who Brought You The Weekend: This is a sweeping, highly readable history of U.S. labor that will be welcomed by anyone interested in learning more about the struggle of American working people to better their lives through collective action. This excellent narrative surveys the historic efforts and sacrifices that working people made to win the rights we take for granted today, from minimum wage and overtime protections to health and safety guarantees to even the weekend itself.)

More than 6,000 drivers strike Greyhound Lines, most lose jobs to strikebreakers after company declares “impasse” in negotiations – 1990

March 03
Birth date in Coshocton, Ohio, of William Green, a coal miner who was to succeed Samuel Gompers as president of the American Federation of Labor, serving in the role from 1924 to 1952. He held the post until his death, to be succeeded by George Meany – 1873
Today in labor history for the week of February 27, 2017
The local lumber workers’ union in Humboldt County, Calif., founded the Union Labor Hospital Association to establish a hospital for union workers in the county. The hospital became an important community facility that was financed and run by the local labor movement – 1906

Congress approves the Seamen’s Act, providing the merchant marine with rights similar to those gained by factory workers. Action on the law was prompted by the sinking of the Titanic three years earlier. Among other gains: working hours were limited to 56 per week; guaranteed minimum standards of cleanliness and safety were put in place – 1915

The Davis-Bacon Act took effect today. It orders contractors on federally financed or assisted construction projects to pay wage rates equal to those prevailing in local construction trades – 1931

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017

February 20
Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Mass., organize a “turn-out”—a strike—in protest. The action failed. Two years later they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson – 1834

Rally for unemployed becomes major confrontation in Philadelphia, 18 arrested for demanding jobs – 1908

Thousands of women march to New York’s City Hall demanding relief from exorbitant wartime food prices. Inflation had wiped out any wage gains made by workers, leading to a high level of working class protest during World War I – 1917
Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017(If your last serious read of American history was in high school—or even in a standard college course—you’ll want to read this amazing account of America as seen through the eyes of its working people, women and minorities. Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was a widely respected historian, author, playwright, and social activist. In A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, he turns history on its head with his carefully researched and dramatic recounting of America and its people—not just its bankers, industrialists, generals and politicians.)

United Mine Workers settle 10-month Pittston strike in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia – 1990

February 21Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017
A state law was enacted in California providing the 8-hour day for most workers, but it was not effectively enforced – 1868

Transportation-Communication Employees Union merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1969

United Farm Workers of America granted a charter by the AFL-CIO – 1972

February 22
Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017Representatives of the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers meet in St. Louis with 20 other organizations to plan the founding convention of the People’s Party. Objectives: end political corruption, spread the wealth, and combat the oppression of the rights of workers and farmers – 1892

Albert Shanker dies at age 68. He served as president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1984 and of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997 – 1997

February 23
W.E.B. DuBois, educator and civil rights activist, born – 1868Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017

The National Marine Engineers Association (now the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association), representing deck and engine officers on U.S. flag vessels, is formed at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio – 1875

The Journeyman Bakers’ National Union receives its charter from the American Federation of Labor – 1887

William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner began publishing articles on the menace of Japanese laborers, leading to a resolution in the California legislature that action be taken against their immigration – 1904

Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” following a frigid trip—partially by hitchhiking, partially by rail—from California to Manhattan. The Great Depression was still raging. Guthrie had heard Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” and resolved to himself: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it” – 1940

Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017(Woody Guthrie: A Life: Folksinger and political activist Woody Guthrie contributed much to the American labor movement, not the least of which are his classic anthems “Union Maid” and “This Land Is Your Land.” This is an easy-to-read, honest description of Guthrie’s life, from a childhood of poverty to an adulthood of music and organizing—and a life cut short by incurable disease. Guthrie’s life and work inspired millions while he lived and continues to do so through musicians such as his son Arlo, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg and Bruce Springsteen, to name just a few. Guthrie is portrayed as he was—an imperfect being but one with a gift that helped millions as they struggled toward better lives.)

Association of Flight Attendants granted a charter by the AFL-CIO – 1984

Following voter approval for the measure in 2003, San Francisco’s minimum wage rises to $8.50, up from $6.75 – 2004

February 24
U.S. Supreme Court upholds Oregon state restrictions on the working hours of women, justified as necessary to protect their health. A laundry owner was fined $10 for making a female employee work more than 10 hours in a single day – 1908
Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017
Women and children textile strikers beaten by Lawrence, Mass., police during a 63-day walkout protesting low wages and work speedups – 1912

Congress passes a federal child labor tax law that imposed a 10 percent tax on companies that employ children, defined as anyone under the age of 16 working in a mine/quarry or under the age 14 in a “mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufacturing establishment.”  The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional three years later – 1919

February 25
Amalgamated Association of Street & Electric Railway Employees of America change name to Amalgamated Transit Union – 1965

The Order of Railroad Telegraphers change name to Transportation-Communication Employees Union – 1965

Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017A crowd estimated to be 100,000 strong rallied at the Wisconsin state Capitol in protest of what was ultimately was to become a successful push by the state’s Republican majority to cripple public employee bargaining rights – 2011

February 26
Congress OKs the Contract Labor Law, designed to clamp down on “business agents” who contracted abroad for immigrant labor. One of the reasons unions supported the measure: employers were using foreign workers to fight against the growing U.S. labor movement, primarily by deploying immigrant labor to break strikes – 1885

(The Labor Law Source Book: Texts of 20 Federal Labor Laws is a very handy collection that puts the full Today in labor history for the week of February 20, 2017texts of all the major U.S. labor laws into one book. Includes the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and 15 more. The full, actual language of each law is presented—without elaboration by the editor—and a helpful topic finder at the back of the book tells you which laws apply to basic concerns and classes of workers. A valuable basic reference. This book contains the texts of federal labor law amended as of December 31, 2013.)

Bethlehem Steel workers strike for union recognition, Bethlehem, Pa. – 1941

A coal slag heap doubling as a dam in West Virginia’s Buffalo Creek Valley collapsed, flooding the 17-mile long valley. 118 died, 5,000 were left homeless. The Pittston Coal Co. said it was “an act of God” – 1972

A 20-week strike by 70,000 Southern California supermarket workers ends, with both sides claiming victory – 2004

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017

February 13
A national eight-month strike by the Sons of Vulcan, a union of iron forgers, ends in victory when employers agreed to a wage scale based on the price of iron bars—the first time employers recognized the union, the first union contract in the iron and steel industry, and what may be the first union contract of any kind in the United States – 1865

Some 12,000 Hollywood writers returned to work today following a largely successful three-month strike against television and motion picture studios.  They won compensation for their TV and movie work that gets streamed on the Internet – 2008

Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017
(Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff is an encyclopedic guide to 350 labor films from around the world, ranging from those you’ve heard of—Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me—to those you’ve never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them. Fiction and nonfiction, the films are about unions, labor history, working-class life, political movements, and the struggle between labor and capital.)

February 14
Western Federation of Miners strike for 8-hour day – 1903

Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017President Theodore Roosevelt creates the Department of Commerce and Labor. It was divided into two separate government departments ten years later – 1903

Jimmy Hoffa born in Brazil, Ind., son of a coal miner. Disappeared July 30, 1975, declared dead seven years later – 1913

Striking workers at Detroit’s newspapers, out since the previous July, offer to return to work. The offer is accepted five days later but the newspapers vow to retain some 1,200 scabs. A court ruling the following year ordered as many as 1,100 former strikers reinstated – 1996

February 15Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017
Susan B. Anthony, suffragist, abolitionist, labor activist, born in Adams, Mass. “Join the union, girls, and together say: Equal Pay for Equal Work.” – 1820

U.S. legislators pass the Civil Works Emergency Relief Act, providing funds for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which funneled money to states plagued by Depression-era poverty and unemployment, and oversaw the subsequent distribution and relief efforts – 1934

The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) expels the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers; the Food, Tobacco & Agricultural Workers; and the United Office & Professional Workers for “Communist tendencies.” Other unions expelled for the same reason (dates uncertain): Fur and Leather Workers, the Farm Equipment Union, the Int’l Longshoremen’s Union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers – 1950

Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017February 16
Leonora O’Reilly was born in New York. The daughter of Irish immigrants, she began working in a factory at 11, joined the Knights of Labor at 16, and was a volunteer investigator of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. She was a founding member of the Women’s Trade Union League – 1870

Diamond Mine disaster in Braidwood, Ill. The coal mine was on a marshy tract of land with no natural drainage. Snow melted and forced a collapse on the east side of the mine, killing 74 – 1883

Beginning of a 17-week general strike of 12,000 New York furriers, in which Jewish workers formed a coalition with Greek and African American workers and became the first union to win a 5-day, 40-hour week – 1926

Rubber Workers begin sit-down strike at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. – 1936

American Wire Weavers Protective Association merges with United Papermakers & Paperworkers – 1959

All public schools in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc., are closed as teachers call in sick to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights – 2011

February 17Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017
Sixty-three sit-down strikers, demanding recognition of their union, are tear-gassed and driven from two Fansteel Metallurgical Corp. plants in Chicago. Two years later the U.S. Supreme Court declared sit-down strikes illegal. The tactic had been a major industrial union organizing tool – 1937

Two locals of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Int’l Union (now UNITE HERE) at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., strike in sympathy with 1,300 graduate student teaching assistants who are demanding the right to negotiate with the university – 1992

February 18
One of the first American labor newspapers, The Man, is published in New York City. It cost 1¢ and, according to The History of American Journalism, “died an early death.” Another labor paper, N.Y. Daily Sentinel, had been launched four years earlier – 1834
Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017
Faced with 84-hour workweeks, 24-hour shifts and pay of 29¢ an hour, fire fighters form The Int’l Association of Fire Fighters. Some individual locals had affiliated with the AFL beginning in 1903 – 1918

February 19
American Federation of Labor issues a charter to its new Railroad Employees Department – 1909

A few weeks after workers ask for a 25¢ hourly wage, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit (streetcar) Co. fires 173 union members “for the good of the service” and brings in replacements from New York City. Striker-scab battles and a general strike ensued – 1910

Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017
(In this expanded edition of Strike! you can read about labor-management conflicts that have occurred over the past 140 years. Here you’ll learn much about workers’ struggle to win a degree of justice, from the workers’ point of view. Brecher also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s.)

Journeymen Stonecutters Association of North America merges with Laborers’ Int’l Union – 1968

Today in labor history for the week of February 13, 2017The U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc.—the case establishing that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction – 1975

Int’l Union of Police Associations granted a charter by the AFL-CIO – 1979

Farm Labor Organizing Committee signs agreement with Campbell Soup Co., ending 7-year boycott – 1986

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017

January 09
A Mediation Commission appointed by President Woodrow Wilson finds that “industry’s failure to deal with unions” is the prime reason for labor strife in war industries – 1918

Eighty thousand Chicago construction workers strike – 1922

Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union leads Missouri Highway sit-down of 1,700 families. They had been evicted from their homes so landowners wouldn’t have to share government crop subsidy payments with them – 1939

Former Hawaii Territorial Gov. Ingram Steinbeck opposes statehood for Hawaii, saying left wing unions have an “economic stranglehold” on the islands. Hawaii was to be granted statehood five years later – 1954

The administration of George W. Bush declares federal airport security screeners will not be allowed to unionize so as not to “complicate” the war on terrorism. The decision was challenged and eventually overturned after Bush left office – 2003

January 10
In what is described as the worst industrial disaster in state history, the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, Mass., collapses, trapping 900 workers, mostly Irish women. More than 100 die, scores more injured in the collapse and ensuing fire. Too much machinery had been crammed into the building – 1860

Wobbly organizer and singer Joe Hill allegedly kills two men during a grocery store hold-up in Utah. Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017He ultimately is executed by firing squad (His last word was “Fire!”) for the crime despite much speculation that he was framed – 1914

Former AFL-CIO President George Meany dies at age 85. The one-time plumber led the labor federation from the time of the AFL and CIO merger in 1955 until shortly before his death – 1980

The Supreme Court lets stand implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement – 2004

Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017January 11
The IWW-organized “Bread & Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children begins in Lawrence, Mass. It lasted 10 weeks and ended in victory. The first millworkers to walk out were Polish women, who, upon collecting their pay, exclaimed that they had been cheated and promptly abandoned their looms – 1912

(Notice in the Minneapolis Labor Review) “Minneapolis Ice Wagon Drivers’ Union will hold an exceptionally interesting meeting Sunday, at 16 South 5th St.  A Jazz Band, dancing, boxing and good speaking are among the attractions.” – 1918

Nearly two weeks into a sit-down strike at GM’s Fisher Body Plant No. 2 in Flint, Mich., workers battle Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017police when they try to prevent the strikers from receiving food deliveries from thousands of supporters on the outside.  Sixteen strikers and spectators and 11 police were injured.  Most of the strikers were hit by buckshot fired by police riot guns; the police were injured principally by thrown nuts, bolts, door hinges and other auto parts. The incident became known as the “Battle of the Running Bulls” – 1936

National Hockey League owners end a player lockout that had gone for three months and ten days.  A key issue was owner insistence on a salary cap, which they won – 1995

Ford Motor Co. announces it will eliminate 35,000 jobs while discontinuing four models and closing five plants – 2002

Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017January 12
Novelist Jack London is born. His classic definition of a scab—someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker’s job: “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles” – 1876

Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson orders police to raid an open-air mass meeting of shipyard workers in an attempt to prevent a general strike. Workers were brutally beaten. The strike began the following month, with 60,000 workers walking out in solidarity with some 25,000 metal tradesmen – 1919

President Roosevelt creates the National War Labor Board to mediate labor disputes during World War II. Despite the fact that 12 million of the nation’s workers were women—to rise to 18 million by war’s end—the panel consisted entirely of men – 1942

January 13
The original Tompkins Square Riot. As unemployed workers demonstrated in New York’s Tompkins Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children with billy clubs. Declared Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: “It was the most glorious sight I ever saw…” – 1874

Latino citrus workers strike in Covina, Calif. – 1919

(Exact date uncertain) As the nation debates a constitutional amendment to rein in the widespread practice of brutally overworking children in factories and fields, U.S. District Judge G.W. McClintic expresses concern, instead, about child idleness – 1924

January 14
Clinton-era OSHA issues confined spaces standard to prevent more than 50 deaths and 5,000 serious injuries annually for workers who enter confined spaces – 1993

Pennsylvania Superior Court rules bosses can fire workers for being gay – 1995

Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017Some 14,000 General Electric employees strike for two days to protest the company’s mid-contract decision to shift an average of $400 in additional health care co-payments onto each worker – 2003

A 15-month lockout by the Minnesota Orchestra against members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union, Local 30-73 ends when the musicians agree to a 15 percent pay cut (management wanted up to 40 percent) and increased health care cost sharing. They did win a revenue-sharing deal based on performance of the Orchestra’s endowments. It was the nation’s longest-running contract dispute for a concert orchestra – 2014

January 15
Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, in Chicago for a demonstration against hunger, completes the writing of the labor Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017anthem “Solidarity Forever” on this date in 1915. He’d begun writing it in 1914 during a miners’ strike in Huntington, W. Va. The first verse:
When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong! – 1915

Seventeen workers in the area die when a large molasses storage tank in Boston’s North End neighborhood bursts, sending a 40-foot wave of molasses surging through the streets at an estimated 35 miles per hour.  In all, 21 people died and 150 were injured.  The incident is variously known as the Boston Molasses Disaster, the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy.  Some residents claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses – 1919

Martin Luther King Jr. born – 1929

Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017(All Labor Has Dignity: Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform. King’s speeches on labor rights and economic justice underscore his relevance for today. They help us imagine King anew: as a human rights leader whose commitment to unions and an end to poverty was a crucial part of his civil rights agenda.)

The CIO miners’ union in the Grass Valley area of California strikes for higher wages, union recognition, and the 8-hour day. The strike was defeated when vigilantes and law enforcement officials expelled 400 miners and their families from the area – 1938
Today in labor history for the week of January 9, 2017
The Pentagon, to this day the largest office building in the world, is dedicated just 16 months after groundbreaking. At times of peak employment 13,000 workers labored on the project – 1943

Some 174,000 members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers union (UE) struck General Electric and Westinghouse after the power companies, with record-setting profits, offered just a half-cent per hour increase. After nine weeks, the strike was settled with an 18.5 cents hourly wage improvement – 1946

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016

December 19
An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland Co., Pa., kills 239 coal miners. Seventy-one of the dead share a common grave in Olive Branch Cemetery. December 1907 was the worst month in U.S. coal mining history, with more than 3,000 dead – 1907

A 47-day strike at Greyhound Bus Lines ends with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union accepting a new contract containing deep cuts in wages and benefits. Striker Ray Phillips died during the strike, run over on a picket line by a scab Greyhound trainee – 1983

Twenty-six men and one woman are killed in the Wilberg Coal Mine Disaster near Orangeville, Utah. The disaster has been termed the worst coal mine fire in the state’s history. Federal mine safety officials issued 34 safety citations after the disaster but had inspected the mine only days before and declared it safe – 1984

December 20Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016
Delegates to the AFL convention in Salt Lake City endorse a constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote – 1899

The first group of 15 Filipino plantation workers recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association arrive in Hawaii. By 1932 more than 100,000 Filipinos will be working in the fields – 1906

Thousands of workers began what was to be a 2-day strike of the New York City transit system over retirement, pension and wage issues. The strike violated the state’s Taylor Law; TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint was jailed for ten days and the union was fined $2.5 million – 2005

Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016December 21
Powered by children seven to 12 years old working dawn to dusk, Samuel Slater’s thread-spinning factory goes into production in Pawtucket, R.I., launching the Industrial Revolution in America. By 1830, 55 percent of the mill workers in the state were youngsters, many working for less than $1 per week – 1790

Supreme Court rules that picketing is unconstitutional. Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft declared that picketing was, in part, “an unlawful annoyance and hurtful nuisance…” – 1921

December 22
A group of building trades unions from the Midwest meet in St. Louis to form the National Building Trades Council. The Council disbanded after several years of political and jurisdictional differences – 1897
Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016
Twenty-one Chicago firefighters, including the chief, died when a building collapsed as they were fighting a huge blaze at the Union Stock Yards.  By the time the fire was extinguished, 26 hours after the first alarm, 50 engine companies and seven hook-and-ladder companies had been called to the scene. Until September 11, 2001, it was the deadliest building collapse in American history in terms of firefighter fatalities – 1910

Amid a widespread strike for union recognition by 395,000 steelworkers, approximately 250 alleged “anarchists,” “communists,” and “labor agitators” were deported to Russia, marking the beginning of the so-called “Red Scare” – 1919

Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016(Mobilizing Against Inequality: Unions, Immigrant Workers, and the Crisis of Capitalism: Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.)

December 23
AFL officers are found in contempt of court for urging a labor boycott of Buck’s Stove and Range Co. in St Louis, where the Metal Polishers were striking for a 9-hour day – 1908
Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016
Construction workers top out the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 1,368 feet, making it the tallest building in the world – 1970

Walmart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest employer, with 1.4 million “associates,” agrees to settle 63 wage and hour suits across the U.S., for a grand total of between $352 million and $640 million. It was accused of failure to pay overtime, requiring off-the-clock work, and failure to provide required meal and rest breaks – 2008

Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016December 24
Seventy-two copper miners’ children die in panic caused by a company stooge at Calumet, Mich., who shouted “fire” up the stairs into a crowded hall where the children had gathered.  They were crushed against closed doors when they tried to flee – 1913

December 25
A dynamite bomb destroys a portion of the Llewellyn Ironworks in Los Angeles, where a bitter strike was in progress – 1910

Today in labor history for the week of December 19, 2016Fourteen servicemen from military bases across the U.S., led by Pvt. Andrew Stapp, form The American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). The union, which never came close to being recognized by the government, in its heyday during the Viet Nam war claimed tens of thousands of members and had chapters at bases, on ships and in Viet Nam. ASU demands included the right to elect officers – 1967
—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016

December 05
Unionists John T. and James B. McNamara are sentenced to 15 years and life, respectively, after confessing to dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a drive to unionize the metal trades in the city.  They placed the bomb in an alley next to the building, set to detonate when they thought the building would be empty; it went off early, and an unanticipated gas explosion and fire did the real damage, killing twenty people. The newspaper was strongly conservative and anti-union – 1911

Ending a 20-year split, the two largest labor federations in the U.S. merge to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million – 1955
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcomes the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, declaring, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” – 1999

The U.S. Department of Labor reports employers slashed 533,000 jobs the month before—the most in 34 years—as the Great Recession surged. The unemployment rolls had risen for seven months before that and were to continue to soar for another 10 months before topping 10 percent and beginning to level off late the following year – 2008

December 06
African-American delegates meet in Washington, D.C., to form the Colored National Labor Union as a Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016branch of the all-White National Labor Union created three years earlier. Unlike the NLU, the CNLU welcomed members of all races. Isaac Myers was the CNLU’s founding president; Frederick Douglass became president in 1872 – 1869

The Washington Monument is completed in Washington, D.C. On the interior of the monument are 193 commemorative stones, donated by numerous governments and organizations from all over the world; one of them is from the Int’l Typographical Union, founded in 1852.  In 1986 the ITU merged into the Communications Workers of America – 1884

A total of 361 coal miners die at Monongah, W.Va., in nation’s worst mining disaster – 1907

Int’l Glove Workers Union of America merges into Amalgamated Clothing Workers – 1961

United Mine Workers begin what is to become a 110-day national coal strike – 1997
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016
December 07
Heywood Broun born in New York City. Journalist, columnist and co-founder, in 1933, of The Newspaper Guild – 1888

Steam boiler operators from 11 cities across the country meet in Chicago to form the National Union of Steam Engineers of America, the forerunner to the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers. Each of the men represented a local union of 40 members or fewer – 1896

More than 1,600 protesters staged a national hunger march on Washington, D.C., to present demands for unemployment insurance – 1931

United Hatters, Cap & Millinery Workers Int’l Union merges into Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union – 1982
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016
Delegates to the founding convention of the National Nurses United (NNU) in Phoenix, Ariz., unanimously endorse the creation of the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in U.S. history. The 150,000-member union is the product of a merger of three groups – 2009

December 08
Twenty-five unions found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; Cigarmaker’s union leader Samuel Gompers is elected president. The AFL’s founding document’s preamble reads: “A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer…” – 1886

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016(There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America: This thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement traces unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today. Illustrated with dozens of photos, posters and more.)

114-day newspaper strike begins, New York City – 1962

President Bill Clinton signs The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – 1993

Nearly 230 jailed teachers—about one-fourth of the 1,000-member Middletown Township, N.J., staff—are Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016ordered freed after they and their colleagues agree to end a 9-day strike and go into mediation with the local school board – 2001

Faced with a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, President Barack Obama outlines new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals, saying the country must continue to “spend our way out of this recession” until more Americans are back at work. Joblessness had soared 6 percent in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency – 2009

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016December 09
Ratification of a new labor agreement at Titan Tire of Natchez, Miss., ends the longest strike in the history of the U.S. tire industry, which began May 1, 1998, at the company’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant – 2001

December 10
First sit-down strike in U.S. called by IWW at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. – 1906

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016(No Contract, No Peace: A Legal Guide to Contract Campaigns, Strikes, and Lockouts is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. No Contract, No Peace! updates information contained in the first edition, entitled Strikes, Picketing and Inside Campaigns, to include reference to recent union activities and NLRB decisions that have affected the labor relations environment. Schwartz’s familiarity with labor and employment law combines with his activist spirit to provide innovative yet practical tips for mounting and maintaining meaningful campaigns designed to build union and workers’ power.)

Int’l Human Rights Day, commemorating the signing at the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part: “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” – 1948

American Federation of Teachers Local 89 in Atlanta, Georgia, disaffiliates from the national union because of an AFT directive that all its locals integrate. A year later, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to do so – 1956

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016December 11
A small group of Black farmers organize the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union in Houston County, Texas. They had been barred from membership in the all-White Southern Farmers’ Alliance. Through intensive organizing, along with merging with another Black farmers group, the renamed Colored Alliance by 1891 claimed a membership of 1.2 million – 1886

Ten days after an Illinois State mine inspector approved coal dust removal techniques at New Orient mine in West Frankfort, the mine exploded, largely because of coal dust accumulations, killing 119 workers – 1951

The U.S. Department of Labor announces that the nation’s unemployment rate had dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest mark in 15 years – 1968
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016
Forty thousand workers go on general strike in London, Ontario—a city with a population of 300,000—protesting cuts in social services – 1995

Michigan becomes the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation.  The Republican-dominated state Senate introduced two measures—one covering private workers, the other covering public workers—by surprise five days earlier and immediately voted their passage; the Republican House approved them five days later (the fastest it legally could) and the Republican governor immediately signed both bills – 2012

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016

November 28
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, born – 1828

National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, precursor to IBEW, founded – 1891

A total of 154 men die in a coal mine explosion at Marianna, Pa.  Engineer and General Superintendent A.C. Beeson tells the local newspaper he had been in the mine a few minutes before the blast and had found it to be in perfect condition – 1908Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016

Some 400 New York City photoengravers working for the city’s newspapers, supported by 20,000 other newspaper unionists, begin what is to become an 11-day strike, shutting down the papers – 1953

November 29
Clerks, teamsters and building service workers at Boston Stores in Milwaukee strike at the beginning of the Christmas rush. The strike won widespread support—at one point 10,000 pickets jammed the sidewalks around the main store—but ultimately was lost. Workers returned to the job in mid-January with a small pay raise and no union recognition – 1934

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016The SS Daniel J. Morrell, a 603-foot freighter, breaks in two during a strong storm on Lake Huron. Twenty-eight of its 29 crewmen died; survivor Dennis Hale was found the next day, near frozen and floating in a life raft with the bodies of three of his crew mates. He had survived for nearly 40 hours in frigid temperatures wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, a life jacket, and a pea coat – 1966

National Labor Relations Board rules that medical interns can unionize and negotiate wages and hours – 1999

November 30
“Fighting Mary” Eliza McDowell, also known as the “Angel of the Stockyards,” born in Chicago. As a social worker she helped organize the first women’s local of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union in 1902 – 1854

Mother Jones died at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md.; “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!” – 1930

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016(The Autobiography of Mother Jones: Mary Harris Jones—“Mother Jones”—was the most dynamic woman ever to grace the American labor movement. Employers and politicians around the turn of the century called her “the most dangerous woman in America” and rebellious working men and women loved her as they never loved anyone else.
She was an absolutely fearless and tireless advocate for working people, especially coal miners. A founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies—she feared neither soldiers’ guns nor the ruling class’s jails. Here, in her own words, is her story of organizing in steel, railroading, textiles and mining; her crusade against child labor; her fight to organize women; even her involvement in the Mexican revolution.)

More than 12,000 members of the Insurance Agents Union strike in 35 states and Washington, D.C., against the Prudential Insurance Co. – 1951
Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash. – 1999

December 01
The Ford Motor Co. introduces the continuous moving assembly line which can produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes – 1913

Kellogg cereal adopts 6-hour day – 1930

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016African-American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement’s campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South’s “Jim Crow” laws – 1955

United Garment Workers of America merge with United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union – 1994

Metal Polishers, Buffers, Platers & Allied Workers Int’l Union & United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum & Plastics Workers of America merge with Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers – 1996

December 02
A Chicago “slugger,” paid $50 by labor unions for every scab he “discouraged,” described his job in an interview: “Oh, there ain’t nothing to it. I gets my fifty, then I goes out and finds the guy they wanna have slugged, then I gives it to ‘im” – 1911

The U.S. Senate votes 65-22 to condemn Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”  McCarthy was a rabid anti-Communist who falsely accused thousands of Americans, mostly people who supported labor, civil rights and other progressive causes, of being traitors – 1954

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016(A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present: McCarthy’s attack on progressive citizens is just one of many eye-openers revealed in Zinn’s book. If your last serious read of American history was in high school—or even in a standard college course—you’ll want to read this amazing account of America as seen through the eyes of its working people, women and minorities.)

Court documents filed in Boston say Walmart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime – 2009

December 03
Textile strikers win 10-hour day, Fall River, Mass. – 1866

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance setting an 8-hour workday for all city employees – 1867

IWW union Brotherhood of Timber Workers organized – 1910

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016Canada’s Quebec Bridge, spanning the St. Lawrence River, opens to traffic on this day after the deaths of 89 construction workers in the course of the job.  A flawed design was blamed for a 1907 collapse that killed 75; another 13 died in 1916 when a hoisting device failed as the central span was being lifted – 1919

General strike begins in Oakland, Calif., started by female department store clerks – 1946

The express passenger train “20th Century Limited” ends more than 60 years of service when it takes its last run from New York City to Chicago – 1967

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016Some 5,000 union construction workers in Oahu, Hawaii, march to City Hall in protest of a proposed construction moratorium by the city council – 1976

At least four thousand people die, and as many as 20,000, in one of the largest industrial disasters on record.  It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant.  The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues – 1984

Arrests began today in Middleton, N.J., of teachers striking in violation of a no-strike law. Ultimately 228 educators were jailed for up to seven days before they were released following the Middleton Township Education Association’s agreement to take the dispute to mediation – 2001

December 04
President Roosevelt announces the end of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), concluding the Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016four-year run of one of the American government’s most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains – 1943

UAW President Walter Reuther elected president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations – 1952

Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers’ grape boycott – 1970

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016

November 07 Some 1,300 building trades workers in eastern Massachusetts participated in a general strike on all military work in the area to protest the use of open-shop (a worksite in which union membership is not required as a condition of employment) builders. The strike held on for a week in the face of threats from the U.S. War Department - 1917 (In this expanded edition of Strike! you can read about labor-management conflicts that have occurred over the past 140 years. Here you’ll learn much about workers’ struggle to win a degree of justice, from the workers’ point of view. Brecher also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s.) President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike - 1959 Lemuel Ricketts Boulware dies in Delray Beach, Fla., at age 95. As a GE vice president in the 1950s he created the policy known as Boulwarism, in which management decides what is "fair" and refuses to budge on anything during contract negotiations. IUE President Paul Jennings described the policy as "telling the workers what they are entitled to and then trying to shove it down their throats." - 1990 November 08Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016 20,000 workers, Black and White, stage general strike in New Orleans, demanding union recognition and hour and wage gains - 1892 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create four million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America) - 1933 In one of the U.S. auto industry’s more embarrassing missteps over the last half-century, the Ford Motor Co. decides to name its new model the Edsel, after Henry Ford’s only son. Ford executives rejected 18,000 other potential names - 1956 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016November 09 Twenty people, including at least nine firefighters, are killed in Boston’s worst fire. It consumed 65 downtown acres and 776 buildings over 12 hours – 1872 Creation of Committee for Industrial Organization announced by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (in 1938 they formally break with the AFL and become the Congress of Industrial Organizations). The eight want more focus on organizing mass production industry workers - 1935 Philip Murray, first president of the United Steelworkers Organizing Committee, first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations for 12 years following the retirement of John L. Lewis, dies at age 66 - 1952 November 10Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016 Sit-down strike begins at Austin, Minn., Hormel plant with the help of a Wobbly organizer, leading to the creation of the Independent Union of All Workers. Labor historians believe this may have been the first sit-down strike of the 1930s. Workers held the plant for three days, demanding a wage increase. Some 400 men crashed through the plant entrance and chased out nonunion workers. One group rushed through the doors of a conference room where Jay Hormel and five company executives were meeting and declared: “We’re taking possession. So move out.” Within four days the company agreed to binding arbitration - 1933 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016The ship Edmund Fitzgerald—the biggest carrier on the Great Lakes—and crew of 29 are lost in a storm on Lake Superior while carrying ore from Superior, Wisc., to Detroit. The cause of the sinking was never established - 1975 Tile, Marble, Terrazzo Finishers, Shop Workers & Granite Cutters Int’l Union merges into United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners - 1988 November 11Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016 Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally - 1887 A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged: local officials listed his death as a suicide - 1919 A total of 57 crewmen on three freighters die over a 3-day period when their ships sink during a huge storm over Lake Michigan - 1940 November 12 Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants - 1954 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016(Mobilizing Against Inequality: Are immigrant workers themselves responsible for low wages and shoddy working conditions? Should unions expend valuable time and energy organizing undocumented workers? Unions in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken various approaches to confront the challenges of this significant segment of the workforce. As U.S. immigration policy is debated, readers will gain insight into how all workers benefit when wages and working conditions for immigrant workers are improved.) “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers—half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars - 1996 November 13 A total of 259 miners died in the underground Cherry Mine fire. As a result of the disaster, Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016Illinois established stricter safety regulations and in 1911, the basis for the state’s Workers Compensation Act was passed - 1909 A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia in Butte, Mont. - 1914 The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, N.J. Thirteen workers died over its 7-year-long construction - 1927 GM workers’ post-war strike for higher wages closes 96 plants - 1945 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016Striking typesetters at the Green Bay, Wisc., Press Gazette start a competing newspaper, The Green Bay Daily News. With financial support from a local businessman who hated the Press Gazette, the union ran the paper for four years before their angel died and it was sold to another publisher. The Gannett chain ultimately bought the paper, only to fold it in 2005 - 1972 Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union activist Karen Silkwood is killed in a suspicious car crash on her way to deliver documents to a newspaper reporter during a safety investigation of her Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma - 1974

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016

October 31
George Henry Evans publishes the first issue of the Working Man’s Advocate, “edited by a Mechanic” for the “useful and industrious classes” in New York City. He focused on the inequities between the “portion of society living in luxury and idleness” and those “groaning under the oppressions and miseries imposed on them.” – 1829

Tennessee sends in leased convict laborers to break a coal miners strike in Anderson County. The miners revolted, burned the stockades, and sent the captured convicts by train back to Knoxville – 1891

After 14 years of labor by 400 stone masons, the Mt. Rushmore sculpture is completed in Keystone, S.D.Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016– 1941

The Upholsterers Int’l Union merges into the United Steelworkers – 1949

Int’l Alliance of Bill Posters, Billers & Distributors of the United States & Canada surrenders its AFL-CIO charter and is disbanded – 1971

November 01
In the nation’s first general strike for a 10-hour day, 300 armed Irish longshoremen marched through the streets of Philadelphia calling on other workers to join them.  Some 20,000 did, from clerks to bricklayers to city employees and other occupations.  The city announced a 10-hour workday within the week; private employers followed suit three weeks later – 1835

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016(Strikes Around the World: Are strikes going out of fashion or are they an inevitable feature of working life? This is a longstanding debate. The much-proclaimed ‘withering away of the strike’ in the 1950s was quickly overturned by the ‘resurgence of class conflict’ in the late 1960s and 1970s. The period since then has been characterized as one of ‘labor quiescence’. Commentators again predict the strike’s demise, at least in the former heartlands of capitalism.)

Thirty-seven Black striking Louisiana sugar workers are murdered when Louisiana militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shoot unarmed workers trying to get a dollar-per-day wage. Two strike leaders are lynched – 1887

Malbone tunnel disaster in New York City; inexperienced scab motorman crashes five-car train during Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016strike, 97 killed, 255 injured – 1918

Some 400,000 soft coal miners strike for higher wages and shorter hours – 1919

United Stone & Allied Products Workers of America merge with United Steelworkers of America – 1972

The UAW begins what was to become a successful 172-day strike against International Harvester. The union turned back company demands for weakened work rules, mandatory overtime – 1979

Honda assembles the first-ever Japanese car manufactured in a U.S. plant, in Marysville, Ohio – 1982

November 02
Police arrest 150 in IWW free speech fight, Spokane, Wash. – 1909

Railroad union leader & socialist Eugene V. Debs receives nearly a million votes for president while imprisoned for opposing World War I – 1920

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to be observed on the third Monday of January – 1983
(All Labor Has Dignity: People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform.)

Carmen Fasanella retired after 68 years and 243 days of taxicab service in Princeton, N.J., earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.  He started driving at age 17 and, reportedly, chauffeured Princeton Professor Albert Einstein around town – 1989
Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016
November 03
Striking milk drivers dump thousands of gallons of milk on New York City streets – 1921

Some 5,000 Philadelphia-area public transit workers begin what was to be a 6-day strike centered on wages and pension benefits – 2009

November 04
Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016Populist humorist Will Rogers was born on this day near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” – 1879

Some 3,000 dairy farmers demonstrate in Neillsville, Wisc., ultimately leading to the freeing of jailed leaders of a milk strike over low prices set by large dairy plants. Tons of fresh milk were dumped on public roads, trains carrying milk were stopped, some cheese plants were bombed during the fight – 1933

After a struggle lasting more than two years, 6,000 Steelworkers members at Bridgestone/Firestone win a settlement in which strikers displaced by scabs got their original jobs back. The fight started when management demanded that the workers accept 12-hour shifts – 1996

November 05Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born – 1855

Everett, Wash., massacre, at least seven Wobblies killed, 50 wounded and an indeterminate number missing – 1916

Some 12,000 television and movie writers begin what was to become a 3-month strike against producers over demands for an increase in pay for movies and television shows released on DVD and for a bigger share of the revenue from work delivered over the Internet – 2007

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016(How familiar do these phrases ring? Unions are responsible for 
budget deficits; they’ve outlived their usefulness; their members are overpaid and enjoy cushy benefits. The only way to save the American economy, many say, is to weaken the labor movement, strip workers of collective bargaining rights, and champion private industry. In They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions, longtime labor activist and educator Bill Fletcher Jr. makes sense of this debate as he unpacks the 21 myths most often cited by anti-union propagandists.)

November 06Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016
French transport worker and socialist Eugene Pottier dies in Paris at age 71. In 1871 he authored “L’Internationale,” the anthem to international labor solidarity, the first verse of which begins: “Stand up, damned of the Earth; Stand up, prisoners of starvation” – 1887

A coal mine explosion in Spangler, Pa., kills 79. The mine had been rated gaseous in 1918, but at the insistence of new operators it was rated as non-gaseous even though miners had been burned by gas on at least four occasions – 1922

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

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