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August 3, 1913

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Striking hop pickers near the Northern California town of Wheatland gather to hear Industrial Workers of the World organizers, among them Richard “Blackie” Ford. Fighting broke out when sheriff’s deputies attempted to arrest Ford while he was speaking. Four people died, including the local district attorney, a deputy, and two workers. Despite a lack of evidence, Ford and another strike leader, Herman Suhr, were found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury that included 8 farmers.

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Today in labor history for the week of August 3, 2015

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August 03
Uriah Smith Stephens born in Cape May, N.J. A tailor by trade, in 1869 he led nine Philadelphia garment workers to found the Knights of Labor – 1821

Fighting breaks out when sheriff’s deputies attempt to arrest Wobbly leader Richie “Blackie” Ford as he addressed striking field workers at the Durst Ranch in Wheatland, Calif. Four persons died, including the local district attorney, a deputy and two workers. Despite the lack of evidence against them, Ford and another strike leader were found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury that included eight farmers – 1913

Florence Reece dies in Knoxville, Tenn., at 86. She was a Mine Workers union activist and author of Which Side Are You On?, written after her home was ransacked by Harlan County sheriff J.H. Blair and his thugs during a 1931 strike – 1986
(Which Side are You On? The Story of a Song: This wonderful children’s book tells the story of a song written in 1931 that has become an anthem for people fighting for their rights all over the world. Florence Reece’s husband Sam, a coal miner in Kentucky, was helping organize a union when all hell broke loose. The company and its hired thugs started attacking miners and their homes, including Reece’s. While bullets flew around her and the couple’s seven children and they took cover under their bed, Florence took out her pencil and started writing—and the song was born.)

Some 15,000 air traffic controllers strike. President Reagan threatens to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they “have forfeited their jobs” if they do not. Most stay out, and are fired August 5 – 1981

August 04
The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers is formed. It partnered with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, CIO in 1935; both organizations disbanded in 1942 to form the new United Steelworkers – 1876

An estimated 15,000 silk workers strike in Paterson, N.J., for 44-hour week – 19192015.08.03 history ibt.ups.strike

Nearly 185,000 Teamsters begin what is to become a successful 15-day strike at United Parcel Service over excessive use of part-timers – 1997

August 05
Using clubs, police rout 1,500 jobless men who had stormed the plant of the Fruit Growers Express Co. in Indiana Harbor, Ind., demanding jobs – 1931

Thirteen firefighters, including 12 smokejumpers who parachuted in to help their coworkers, die while battling a forest fire at Gates of the Mountain, Montana – 1949

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect today. The first law signed by President Clinton, it allows many workers time off each year due to serious health conditions or to care for a family member – 1993

August 06
Cigarmakers’ Int’l Union of America merges with Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union – 1974

American Railway Supervisors Association merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1980

Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of the U.S. & Canada merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1986

Some 45,000 CWA and IBEW-represented workers at Verizon begin what is to be a two-week strike, refusing to accept more than 100 concession demands by the telecommunications giant – 2011

2015.08.03 history gurley.flynnAugust 07
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Wobbly organizer, born – 1890

Eugene Debs and three other trade unionists arrested after Pullman Strike – 1894

Actors Equity is recognized by producers after stagehands honor their picket lines, shutting down almost every professional stage production in the country. Before unionizing, it was common practice for actors to pay for their own costumes, rehearse long hours without pay, and be fired without notice – 1919

United Slate, Tile & Composition Roofers, Damp & Waterproof Workers Association change name to Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers – 1978

Some 675,000 employees struck ATT Corp. over wages, job security, pension plan changes and better health insurance. It was the last time CWA negotiated at one table for all its Bell System members: divestiture came a few months later. The strike was won after 22 days – 1983

Television writers, members of The Writers Guild of America, end a 22-week strike with a compromise settlement – 1988

August 08
Delegates to the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly elect 35-year-old Charles James, leader of the Boot and Shoe Workers local union, as their president. He was the first African-American elected to that leadership post in St. Paul, and, many believe, the first anywhere in the nation – 1902

Cripple Creek, Colo., miners strike begins – 1903

Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America merge with Retail Clerks Int’l Union to become United Food & Commercial Workers – 1979

Cesar Chavez is posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton, becoming the first Mexican-American ever to receive the honor – 19942015.08.03 history fight.fields
(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. Born to migrant workers in 1927, he attended 65 elementary schools before finishing 7th grade, the end of his formal education. Through hard work, charisma and uncommon bravery he moved on to become founder and leader of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and to win a degree of justice for tens of thousands of workers… and to set a moral example for the nation.)

August 09
Knights of Labor strike New York Central railroad, ultimately to be defeated by scabbing – 1890

Nine men and one woman meet in Oakland, Calif., to form what was to become the 230,000-member California School Employees Association, representing school support staff throughout the state – 1927

2015.08.03 history titanA fire and resultant loss of oxygen when a high pressure hydraulic line was cut with a torch in a Titan missile silo near Searcy, Ark., kills 53 people, mostly civilian repairmen – 1965

United Papermakers & Paperworkers merge with Int’l Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulphite & Paper Mill Workers of the U.S. & Canada to become United Paperworkers Int’l Union, now a division Source Link

August 2, 1917

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Railway and tramway employees in Sydney, Australia, go on strike to protest the introduction of a card system to record what each employee was doing and how fast the job was completed. Workers were not allowed to view or modify the cards. The strike spread from the railways to other industries until about 100,000 workers were on strike.

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August 1, 1944

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After the Philadelphia Transit Company promotes eight black transit workers to the position of trolley car driver, a sickout begins by white transit workers in defiance of their newly elected bargaining agent, the Transport Workers Union, which urged the company to integrate its workforce. Federal troops intervened, taking control of the transit system and providing protection for black motormen. In the end, it was a milestone in the battle against race discrimination in the workplace and a victory not just for black workers, but for the white workers who stood with them.

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New Article Highlights Work Of Progressive Labor Activist Matt Murray

New article focuses on the work of Matt Murray, a local labor blogger, and his work pushing back against the right wing attacks on labor and progress.

Murray Head ShotFor five years now Matt Murray has been dedicated to fighting back against the right wing attacks on working families.  In an attempt to push back against the main-stream media’s mis-information about labor unions, Murray created the NH Labor News (NHLaborNews.com).

Today, Communique New England released an in depth article on the work that Murray has been doing over the past five years.

“No self-respecting reader of Communique New England who cares about workers and the labor movement can afford to ignore or overlook NH Labor News, the state’s only source for daily, hourly, even real time updates pertaining to any and all labor-related activity in the state.”

“Murray’s tendency to look on the bright side is both infectious and consistent – he also holds a great deal of optimism with regard to labor’s future, even as the movement assumes a more nontraditional and at times asymmetrical structure.”

The looks at the humble beginnings of the NH Labor News and a look into the future as the NH Labor News continues to grow and expand. 

“The NH Labor News is truly a labor of love,” said Matt Murray, creator and managing editor of the NH Labor News. “I have dedicated my life to supporting working families and pushing for progress in New Hampshire and the entire United States. Attacking the hard-working men and women of this country has become a political talking point for some politicians, even going as far as to call us ‘terrorists’. We need to band together to fight back against the attacks on working families.”

“I would like to thank Jay Monaco for his great work on this article and highlighting the work of all of those involved in the NH Labor News, and look forward to bringing you more as the First In The Nation primary ramps up,” added Murray.

To read the entire article from Jay Monaco go to: http://communiquenewengland.com/2015/07/22/the-soul-of-the-new-hampshire-labor-movement/

July 24, 1941

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When their pay was shorted, 700 workers at Canada’s largest aluminum plant in Arvida, Quebec, walk off the job in an illegal (because the industry had been classified as essential to the war effort) strike. The next day, the strike spread to 4,500 workers, who occupied the plant. Work resumed several days later and negotiations began, with the union as intermediary, assisted by federal conciliators.

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July 23, 1877

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Anti-Chinese nativist agitators at a huge outdoor rally in San Francisco about the economic depression and unemployment organized by the Workingmen’s Party of the United States incite a two-day riot of ethnic violence against Chinese workers, resulting in four deaths and the destruction of property. Five years later, President Chester Arthur signed the federal Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting immigration of Chinese laborers.

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Today in labor history for the week of July 27, 2015

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July 27
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died – 1869

July 28
Women shoemakers in Lynn, Mass., create Daughters of St. Crispin, demand pay equal to that of men – 1869

Harry Bridges is born in Australia. He came to America as a sailor at age 19 and went on to help form and lead the militant Int’l Longshore and Warehouse Union for more than 40 years – 1901

A strike by Paterson, N.J., silk workers for an 8-hour day, improved working conditions ends after six months, with the workers’ demands unmet. During the course of the strike, approximately 1,800 strikers were arrested, including Wobbly leaders Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn – 1913

Federal troops burn the shantytown built near the U.S. Capitol by thousands of unemployed WWI veterans, camping there to demand a bonus they had been promised but never received – 1932

Nine miners are rescued in Sommerset, Pa., after being trapped for 77 hours 240 feet underground in the flooded Quecreek Mine – 2002

July 29
The Coast Seamen’s Union merges with the Steamship Sailors’ Union to form the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific – 1891

A preliminary delegation from Mother Jones’ March of the Mill Children from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, publicizing the harsh conditions of child labor, arrives today. They are not allowed through the gates – 1903
2015.07.27 history jones(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.)

Nineteen firefighters die while responding to a blaze at the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corp. refinery in Sun Ray, Texas – 1956

Following a 5-year table grape boycott, Delano-area growers file into the United Farm Workers union hall in Delano, Calif., to sign their first union contracts – 1970

July 30
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965, establishing Medicare and Medicaid – 1965
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Former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappears. Declared legally dead in 1982, his body has never been found – 1975

United Airlines agrees to offer domestic-partner benefits to employees and retirees worldwide – 1999

July 31
Members of the National Football League Players Association begin what is to be a 2-day strike, their first. The issues: pay, pensions, the right to arbitration and the right to have agents – 1970

Fifty-day baseball strike ends – 1981

The Great Shipyard Strike of 1999 ends after Steelworkers at Newport News Shipbuilding ratify a breakthrough agreement which nearly doubles pensions, increases security, ends inequality, and provides the highest wage increases in company and industry history to nearly 10,000 workers at the yard. The strike lasted 15 weeks – 1999
2015.07.27 history contcosting(Contract Costing for Union Negotiators: This incredibly helpful manual for union negotiators explains both the fundamentals and the details of costing a collective agreement to prepare for and conduct your contract negotiations. It describes the principal ways that contract costs are calculated and expressed by negotiators, and guides you through the process of accurately calculating average wages for your bargaining unit—for contracts with step progression and those without.)

August 01
After organizing a strike of metal miners against the Anaconda Company, Wobbly organizer Frank Little is dragged by six masked men from his Butte, Mont., hotel room and hung from the Milwaukee Railroad trestle. Years later writer Dashiell Hammett would recall his early days as a Pinkerton detective agency operative and recount how a mine company representative offered him $5,000 to kill Little. Hammett says he quit the business that night – 1917

Sid Hatfield, police chief of Matewan, W. Va., a longtime supporter of the United Mine Workers union, is murdered by company goons. This soon led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, a labor uprising also referred to as the Red Neck War – 1921
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Police in Hilo, Hawaii, open fire on 200 demonstrators supporting striking waterfront workers. The attack became known as “the Hilo Massacre” – 1938

A 17-day, company-instigated wildcat strike in Philadelphia tries to bar eight African-American trolley operators from working. Transport Workers Union members stay on the job in support of the men – 1944

Government & Civic Employees Organizing Committee merges into State, County & Municipal Employees – 1956

Window Glass Cutters League of America merges with Glass Bottle Blowers – 1975

Ten-month strike against Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel wins agreement guaranteeing defined-benefit pensions for 4,500 Steelworkers – 1997

California School Employees Association affiliates with AFL-CIO – 2001

2015.07.27 history goodwinAugust 02
The first General Strike in Canadian history is held in Vancouver, organized as a 1-day political protest against the killing of draft evader and labor activist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, who had called for a general strike in the event that any worker was drafted against his will – 1918

Hatch Act is passed, limiting political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government – 1939

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July 21, 1978

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A wildcat strike begins by postal workers at the New Jersey Bulk and Foreign Mail Center in an attempt to nullify the tentative national contract agreement between the postal unions and the United States Postal Service. The conflict spread until eventually 4,750 postal workers were on strike nationwide. After the strike was broken, 125 workers were fired, 130 were temporarily suspended, 2,500 received letters of warning, the union memberships did not ratify the proposed settlement, and an arbitrated contract settlement was imposed.

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