• Advertisement

Today in labor history for the week of December 28, 2015

December 28
The coffee percolator is patented by James H. Mason of Franklin, Mass., placing himself forever in the debt of millions of caffeine-dependent working people – 1865

Auto workers begin sit-down strike for union recognition at GM’s Fisher Body plant in Cleveland – 1936

Country music legend Hank Williams attends what is to be his last musicians’ union meeting, at the Elite (pronounced E-light) café in Montgomery, Ala. He died of apparent heart failure three days later in the back seat of a car driving north. He was 29 – 1952

December 29
After years of intensive lobbying by the labor movement, a comprehensive national safety law is enacted as President Nixon signs the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, creating the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – 1970

More than 15,000 United Steel Workers members at 16 Goodyear Tire & Rubber plants end an 86-day strike, ratify 3-year contract – 2006

December 30
Gathering in the back room of Behrens’ cigar shop in Sedalia, Mo., 33 railroad clerks form Local Lodge Number 1 of a union they named the Order of the Railroad Clerks of America – 1899

Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg, who had brutally suppressed the state’s miners, is killed by an assassin’s bomb. Legendary Western Federation of Miners and IWW leader William “Big Bill” Haywood and two other men were put on trial for the death but were ultimately declared innocent – 1905

GM sit-down strike spreads to Flint, Mich., will last 44 days before ending in union victory – 1936

December 31
Sixty thousand unemployed workers rally at a Pittsburgh stadium – 1931

United Mine Workers reformer Joseph “Jock” Yablonski, his wife and daughter are murdered by hit men hired by union president Tony Boyle, who was to be convicted of the crime and eventually die in prison – 1969

OSHA adopts a grain handling facilities standard to protect 155,000 workers at nearly 24,000 grain elevators from the risk of fire and explosion from highly combustible grain dust – 1987

January 01
Women weavers form union, Fall River, Mass. – 1875

John L. Lewis is elected president of the United Mine Workers. Fifteen years later he is to be a leader in the formation of what was to become the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) – 1920

With the Great Depression in full force, the year 1932 opens with 14 million unemployed, national income down by 50 percent, breadlines that include former shopkeepers, businessmen and middle-class housewives. Charity is overwhelmed: only one-quarter of America’s unemployed are receiving any help at all – 1932

Workers begin to acquire credits toward Social Security pension benefits. Employers and employees became subject to a tax of one percent of wages on up to $3,000 a year – 1937

Adolph Strasser, head of the Cigar Maker’s Union and one of the founders of the AFL in 1886, died on this day in Forest Park, Ill. – 1939

Members of the Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union working for the New York transit system begin what is to be a successful 12-day strike. Fiery TWU leader Mike Quill, jailed for several days during the strike, then hospitalized, died three days after his release from the hospital – 1966

The federal minimum wage rises to $2.65 an hour – 1978

Int’l Typographical Union, the nation’s oldest union, merges with Communications Workers of America – 1987

United Furniture Workers of America merges with Int’l Union of Electronic, Electrical, Technical, Salaried & Machine Workers to become Int’l Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine & Furniture Workers, now a division of CWA – 1987

National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians merges with Communications Workers of America – 1994

Int’l Union of Allied & Industrial Workers of America merges with United Paperworkers Int’l. Later merged into the Steelworkers – 1994

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) takes effect, despite objections by labor – 1994

Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers Int’l Union merges with American Federation of Grain Millers to form Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Int’l Union – 1999

January 02
Conference of 23 industrial unionists in Chicago leads to formation of IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as Wobblies – 1905

In what became known as Palmer Raids, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer arrests 4,000 foreign-born labor agitators. He believed Communism was “eating its way into the homes of the American workman,” and Socialists were causing most of the country’s social problems – 1920

An underground explosion at Sago Mine in Tallmansville, W. Va., traps 12 miners and cuts power to the mine. Eleven men die, mostly by asphyxiation. The mine had been cited 273 times for safety violations over the prior 23 months – 2006

January 03
The ship Thetis arrives in Hawaii with 175 Chinese field workers bound to serve for five years at $3 per month – 1852

Wobbly Tom Mooney tried in San Francisco for Preparedness Day bombing – 1917

In a familiar scene during the Great Depression, some 500 farmers, Black and White, their crops ruined by a long drought, march into downtown England, Ark., to demand food for their starving families, warning they would take it by force if necessary. Town fathers frantically contacted the Red Cross; each family went home with two weeks’ rations – 1931

The Supreme Court rules against the closed shop, a labor-management agreement that only union members can be hired and must remain members to continue on the job – 1949

AFL-CIO American Institute for Free Labor Development employees Mike Hammer and Mark Pearlman are assassinated in El Salvador along with a Peasant Workers’ Union leader with whom they were working on a land reform program – 1981

Source Link

December 24, 1913

At least 73 people – mostly children – die in a stampede following a false cry of “Fire!” at a Christmas Eve party held by striking mine workers for their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan. Witnesses identified the man who stepped into the hall and shouted the alarm as a strikebreaker, but no one was held accountable for the tragedy.

Source Link

December 21, 1916

Labor organizer, community activist, and civil rights advocate Emma Tenayuca is born in San Antonio. Her advocacy for the working poor – especially Mexican American women – led her to become known as “La Pasionaria” and was an inspiration to future generations of labor and civil rights activists. “I never thought in terms of fear. I thought in terms of justice.”

Source Link

Today in labor history for the week of December 21, 2015

December 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

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
(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

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

December 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

Fourteen 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

December 26
Knights of Labor founded. Constitution bars from membership “parasites,” including stockbrokers and lawyers – 1869

Workingmen’s Party is reorganized as the Socialist Labor Party – 1877

December 27
President Roosevelt seizes the railroads to avert a nationwide strike. His decision to temporarily place the railroads under the “supervision” of the War Department prompts the five railroad brotherhoods to agree to his offer to arbitrate the wage dispute – 1943

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Source Link

December 19, 1907

An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, kills 239 coal miners, most of whom are Hungarian immigrant laborers. Some came from the nearby Naomi Mine, which had closed after at deadly explosion several weeks earlier. Only one person is thought to have survived the Darr Mine explosion. December 1907 was the deadliest month in U.S. coal mining history.

Source Link

December 16, 1951

The New York Times reports on December 17 that the “metropolitan area was threatened with a bagel famine yesterday as thirty-two of the city’s thirty-four bagel bakeries remained closed in a dispute between 300 members of Local 338 of the Bagel Bakers of America, A.F.L., and the Bagel Bakers Association.” The union settled its dispute over health and welfare payments and workplace sanitation in late January.

Source Link

December 15, 1921

A protest by 500 women in Kansas that began earlier in the week – organized in support of striking mine workers and against new anti-labor legislation that forced unions into arbitration and outlawed strikes in the state – swells to 4,000, stretching a mile long. The women, dubbed the “Amazon Army” by The New York Times, disbanded upon hearing that the militia was on its way. Victory came a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Kansas anti-labor laws unconstitutional.

Source Link

Today in labor history for the week of December 14, 2015

December 14
Some 33,000 striking members of the Machinists end a 69-day walkout at Boeing after winning pay and benefit increases and protections against subcontracting some of their work overseas – 1995

December 15
AFL convention passes a 1¢ per capita assessment to aid the organization of women workers (Exact date uncertain) – 1913

The Kansas National Guard is called out to subdue from 2,000 to 6,000 protesting women who were going from mine to mine attacking non-striking miners in the Pittsburg coal fields. The women made headlines across the state and the nation: they were christened the “Amazon Army” by the New York Times – 1921

Eight days after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, the AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related plants for the duration of World War II – 1941

Meeting in its biennial convention, the AFL-CIO declares “unstinting support” for “measures the Administration might deem necessary to halt Communist aggression and secure a just and lasting peace” in Vietnam – 1967

The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone aged 40 or older – 1967
(The Essential Guide To Federal Employment Laws, 4th edition: This is a well-indexed book, updated in 2013, offering the full text of 20 federal laws affecting workers’ lives, along with plain-English explanations of each. An entire chapter is devoted to each law, explaining what is allowed and prohibited and what businesses must comply.)

California’s longest nurses’ strike ended after workers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and Pinole approved a new contract with Tenet Healthcare Corp., ending a 13-month walkout – 2003

Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union organizer Clinton Jencks, who led New Mexico zinc miners in the strike depicted in the classic 1954 movie Salt of the Earth, dies of natural causes in San Diego at age 87 – 2005

December 16
The National Civic Federation is formed by business and labor leaders, most prominently AFL president Sam Gompers, as a vehicle to resolve conflicts between management and labor. Not all unionists agreed with the alliance. The group turned increasingly conservative and labor withdrew after Gompers’ 1924 death – 1900

New York City’s Majestic Theater becomes first in the U.S. to employ women ushers – 1902

The Bagel Bakers of America union is continuing a work slowdown at 32 of New York’s 34 bagel bakeries in a dispute over health and welfare fund payments and workplace sanitation, the New York Times reports. Coincidentally—or not—lox sales were down 30 percent to 50 percent as well. The effect on the cream cheese market was not reported – 1951

Four railway unions merge to become the United Transportation Union: Trainmen, Firemen & Enginemen, Switchmen, and Conductors and Brakemen – 1968

Eight female bank tellers in Willmar, Minn., begin the first strike against a bank in U.S. history. At issue: they were paid little more than half what male tellers were paid. The strike ended in moral victory but economic defeat two years later – 1977
(United Apart: Gender and the Rise of Craft Unionism: At the turn of the twentieth century, American factory workers were often segregated by sex—males did heavier, dirtier, and better paid, work while women might be employed in a separate area performing related, lighter work. Men might cut bolts of fabric, for example, while women stitched cuffs onto sleeves. How this division of labor played out when an occupational group comprised of one sex went on strike is the subject of this book.)

December 17
Int’l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers merges with United Steelworkers of America – 1996

December 18
General Motors announces it is closing 21 North American plants over the following four years and slashing tens of thousands of jobs – 1991

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 20
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

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) takes effect today – 1970
(The Labor Law Source Book: Texts of 20 Federal Labor Laws is a very handy collection that puts the full texts 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)

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 Source Link

December 13, 1971

In South-West Africa (now Namibia), 6,000 indigenous Ovambos – required under the rule of South Africa’s apartheid government to live in tribal areas in the northern third of the country and required to have passes for movement within the country – begin a general strike to protest the contract labor system. They demanded the right to choose jobs, end contracts, bring families to work locations, a new pass system, and increased wages based on work type, not skin color.

Source Link

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 200 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement