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Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017

October 16
Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, is beheaded during the French Revolution.   When alerted that the peasants were suffering due to widespread bread shortages, lore has it that she replied, “Let them eat cake.”  In fact she never said that, but workers were, justifiably, ready to believe anything bad about their cold-hearted royalty – 1793

Abolitionist John Brown leads 18 men, including five free Blacks, in an attack on the Harper’s Ferry ammunition depot, the beginning of guerilla warfare against slavery – 1859  

Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017October 17
A huge vat ruptures at a London brewery, setting off a domino effect of similar ruptures, and what was to become known as The London Beer Flood.  Nearly 1.5 million liters of beer gushed into the streets drowning or otherwise causing the deaths of eight people, mostly poor people living in nearby basements – 1814

Labor activist Warren Billings is released from California’s Folsom Prison. Along with Thomas J. Mooney, Billings had been pardoned for a 1916 conviction stemming from a bomb explosion during a San Francisco Preparedness Day parade. He had always maintained his innocence – 1939

“Salt of the Earth” strike begins by the mostly Mexican-American members of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union Local 890 in Bayard, N.M. Strikers’ wives walked picket lines for seven months when their husbands were enjoined during the 14-month strike against the New Jersey Zinc Co. A great movie, see it! – 1950

Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017(Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films About Labor: This wonderful book 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.)

Twelve New York City firefighters die fighting a blaze in midtown Manhattan – 1966

Int’l Printing Pressmen’s & Assistants’ Union of North America merges with Int’l Stereotypers’, Electrotypers’ & Platemakers’ Union to become Printing & Graphic Communications Union – 1973

Industrial Union of Marine & Shipbuilding Workers of America merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1988

October 18
The “Shoemakers of Boston”—the first labor organization in what would later become the United States—was authorized by the Massachusetts Bay Colony – 1648

Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017New York City agrees to pay women school teachers a rate equal to that of men – 1911

IWW Colorado Mine strike; first time all coal fields are out – 1927

Some 58,000 Chrysler Corp. workers strike for wage increases – 1939

The United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) was formed as a self-governing union, an outgrowth of the CIO’s Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee. UPWA merged with the Meatcutters union in 1968, which merged with the Retail Clerks in 1979 to form the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) – 1943

GM agrees to hire more women and minorities for five years as part of a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – 1983

Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017
(Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Working Women Organizing for Equality: Many blue-collar arenas remain contested terrain for females. Women still struggle to get training, to get jobs, and to secure a harassment-free workplace. Despite the efforts of the pioneering generation, females still enter these jobs one by one and two by two and only against great odds do they remain there. These oral histories explore the achievements of the women who made history simply by going to work every day.)

October 19
The National Association of Letter Carriers achieves equalization of wages for all letter carriers, meaning Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017city delivery carriers began receiving the same wages regardless of the size of the community in which they worked – 1949

The J.P. Stevens textile company is forced to sign its first union contract after a 17-year struggle in North Carolina and other southern states – 1980

October 20Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017
Eugene V. Debs, U.S. labor leader and socialist, dies in Elmhurst, Ill. Among his radical ideas: an 8-hour workday, pensions, workman’s compensation, sick leave and social security. He ran for president from a jail cell in 1920 and got a million votes – 1926

Hollywood came under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened hearings into alleged Communist influence within the motion picture industry. Dozens of union members were among those blacklisted as a result of HUAC’s activities – 1947

Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan writes to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorses Reagan, “I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.” He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election, he fires the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions – 1980
Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017
Death of Merle Travis, songwriter and performer who wrote “Sixteen Tons” and “Dark as a Dungeon” – 1983

Two track workers are killed in a (San Francisco) Bay Area Rapid Transit train accident.  Federal investigators said the train was run by a BART employee who was being trained as an operator as members of the Amalgamated Transit Union were participating in what was to be a four-day strike – 2013

October 21
Wisconsin dairy farmers begin their third strike of the year in an attempt to raise the price of milk paid to producers during the Great Depression.  Several creameries were bombed before the strike ended a month later. The economy eventually improved, allowing the farmers to make more money – 1933
Today in labor history for the week of October 16, 2017
October 22
Bank robber Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd is killed by FBI agents near East Liverpool, Ohio. He was a hero to the people of Oklahoma who saw him as a “Sagebrush Robin Hood,” stealing from banks and sharing some of the proceeds with the poor – 1934

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

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

October 09 United Hebrew Trades is organized in New York by shirt maker Morris Hillquit and others. Hillquit would later become leader of the Socialist Party - 1888 Retail stock brokerage Smith Barney reaches a tentative sexual harassment settlement with a group of female employees. The suit charged, among other things, that branch managers asked female workers to remove their tops in exchange for money and one office featured a "boom boom room" where women workers were encouraged to "entertain clients." The settlement was never finalized: a U.S. District Court judge refused to approve the deal because it failed to adequately redress the plaintiff's grievances - 1997 October 10Today in labor history for the week of October 9, 2017 Six days into a cotton field strike by 18,000 Mexican and Mexican-American workers in Pixley, Calif., four strikers are killed and six wounded; eight growers were indicted and charged with murder - 1933 October 11 The Miners’ National Association is formed in Youngstown, Ohio, with the goal of uniting all miners, regardless of skill or ethnic background - 1873 Nearly 1,500 plantation workers strike Olaa Sugar, on Hawaii’s Big Island - 1948 October 12 Company guards kill at least eight miners who are attempting to stop scabs, Virden, Ill. Six guards are Today in labor history for the week of October 9, 2017also killed, and 30 persons wounded - 1898 Fourteen miners killed, 22 wounded at Pana, Ill. - 1902 Some 2,000 workers demanding union recognition close down dress manufacturing, Los Angeles - 1933 More than one million Canadian workers demonstrate against wage controls - 1976 October 13 American Federation of Labor votes to boycott all German-made products as a protest against Nazi Today in labor history for the week of October 9, 2017antagonism to organized labor within Germany - 1934 More than 1,100 office workers strike Columbia University in New York City. The mostly female and minority workers win union recognition and pay increases - 1985 National Basketball Association cancels regular season games for the first time in its 51-year history, during a player lockout.  Player salaries and pay caps are the primary issue.  The lockout lasts 204 days - 1998 Hundreds of San Jose Mercury News newspaper carriers end 4-day walkout with victory - 2000 October 14 Int’l Working People's Association founded in Pittsburgh, Pa. - 1883 Today in labor history for the week of October 9, 2017The Seafarers Int’l Union (SIU) is founded as an AFL alternative to what was then the CIO’s National Maritime Union.  SIU is an umbrella organization of 12 autonomous unions of mariners, fishermen and boatmen working on U.S.-flagged vessels - 1938 Formal construction began today on what is expected to be a five-year, $3.9 billion replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River.  It's estimated the project would be employing 8,000 building trades workers over the span of the job - 2013 October 15Today in labor history for the week of October 9, 2017 President Woodrow Wilson signs the Clayton Antitrust Act—often referred to as "Labor’s Magna Carta"—establishing that unions are not "conspiracies" under the law. It for the first time freed unions to strike, picket and boycott employers. In the years that followed, however, numerous state measures and negative court interpretations weakened the law - 1914 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten  

300 Union Members Head To Puerto Rico To Assist In Recovery Efforts

United ALPA Pilots Prior tl Flight to Puerto Rico
Image from ALPA

Unions and United Airlines Come Together to Fly More than 300 First Responders and Skilled Volunteers to Puerto Rico

35,000 pounds of relief supplies also delivered on flight
Evacuees to fill seats on return flight to Newark, New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 4, 2017 – Today, the AFL-CIO, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and United Airlines teamed up to fly more than 300 first responders and skilled volunteers—including nurses, doctors, electricians, engineers, carpenters and truck drivers—to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts.

The flight was one way to respond to the urgent need to get highly skilled workers to Puerto Rico to help people seeking medical and humanitarian assistance as well as to help with the rebuilding effort. While in Puerto Rico, workers will coordinate with the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and the city of San Juan on various efforts, including helping clear road blockages, care for hospital patients, deliver emergency supplies, and restore power and communications.

United Airlines volunteered a 777-300, one of the largest and newest aircraft in its fleet, to airlift this humanitarian relief team to San Juan. In addition to the hundreds of highly skilled workers assembled by the AFL-CIO, the flight was operated by ALPA- and AFA-CWA-represented United Airlines pilots and flight attendants volunteering their time. IAM-represented United ramp employees also will support the flight on the ground in Newark and San Juan.

The flight departed Newark Liberty International Airport at 11 a.m. ET and will arrive at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport at approximately 2:45 p.m. ET. The flight also is transporting more than 35,000 pounds of such emergency relief supplies as food, water and essential equipment. The airline has operated more than a dozen flights to and from Puerto Rico, carrying nearly 740,000 pounds of relief-related cargo and more than 1,300 evacuees.

The United aircraft is returning to Newark this evening with evacuees from Puerto Rico. These passengers are being provided complimentary seats as part of United’s ongoing humanitarian relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“The working families of Puerto Rico are our brothers and sisters. And this incredible partnership will bring skilled workers to the front lines to deliver supplies, care for victims and rebuild Puerto Rico,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need. But we are even better when we find common ground and partner with business and industry on solutions to lift up our communities. This endeavor is entirely about working people helping working people in every way possible. In times of great tragedy, our country comes together, and we are committed to doing our part to assist the people of Puerto Rico.”

“When our union sisters and brothers see a need in our national or international community, we don’t ask if we should act, we ask how,” said AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson. “Today is the result of our collective strength, compassion and commitment to action. I am proud United responded to the call to carry a union of relief workers among America’s working families to care for our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico. We are united in lifting up our fellow Americans. It is an honor to serve on the volunteer crew of Flight Attendants and Pilots transporting skilled relief workers and returning to New York with hundreds needing safe passage out of Puerto Rico.”


“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need help and this is a race against time,” said Captain Todd Insler, Chairman, ALPA United Airlines. “The ALPA pilots of United Airlines are honored to fly these skilled workers and medical professionals to San Juan today, and will continue to support the humanitarian efforts going forward. We applaud these brave volunteers who are dedicating their time, selflessly leaving their homes and families, and answering the call to help. The strength of the unions represented on this flight comes from workers joining together to help one another. Likewise, the strength of this joint relief effort comes from all of us—labor, management and government—standing together to help our fellow citizens in their time of need.”

“This flight carries not only much-needed supplies and skilled union labor, but also the love and support of more than 33,000 IAM members at United who will continue helping the people of Puerto Rico recover,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja.

While in Puerto Rico, OPEIU nurse members Kris Teed, RN , Elizabeth Moreno, RN, and Kyra Keusch, RN, will coordinate with the Puerto Rico AFL-CIO and the City of San Juan on various efforts.

“When our communities call out for help, we can come together and solve the biggest challenges by summoning the best of ourselves. We’ve answered this call many times over the past couple months, and Puerto Rico is no exception,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. “This flight embodies how working Americans, union leaders and business can unite with a shared sense of purpose to make a life-changing difference at this critical moment. We are deeply grateful to all of the first responders, highly skilled professionals and United employees who are going above and beyond to come to the aid of Puerto Rico.”

 

Unions throughout America have continued to offer supplies and other volunteer efforts in addition to today’s flight. Members on today’s flight are represented by 20 unions from 17 states.

Leo W Gerard: Unfair Trade, Uncertainty Killing American Aluminum and Steel

Kameen Thompson, president of the USW local union at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken mill

Kameen Thompson started his workday Sept. 15 thinking that his employer, ArcelorMittal in Conshohocken, Pa., the largest supplier of armored plate to the U.S. military, might hire some workers to reduce a recent spate of overtime.

Just hours later, though, he discovered the absolute opposite was true.

ArcelorMittal announced that, within a year, it would idle the mill that stretches half a mile along the Schuylkill River. Company officials broke the bad news to Kameen, president of the United Steelworkers (USW) local union at Conshohocken, and Ron Davis, the grievance chair, at a meeting where the two union officers had hoped to hear about hiring.

ArcelorMittal wouldn’t say when it would begin the layoffs or how many workers would lose their jobs or which mill departments would go dark. The worst part for everyone now is the uncertainty, Kameen told me last week.

“If ArcelorMittal said they would shut down on a date certain, everybody could move on to something else or prepare. Right now, we are in limbo. We have a lot of guys with a lot of time, but they’re still not old enough to retire. The only thing we can do is ride it out. But the uncertainty is very, very hard on them. It’s difficult not knowing who and what departments are affected and how long we are going to run,” Kameen said.

Uncertainty from Washington, D.C., is a major contributor to the idling of the plant. ArcelorMittal and every other aluminum and steel producer in America are in limbo as they wait for a decision on import restrictions that could preserve U.S. capacity to produce defense materials – like the light armored plate that’s Conshohocken’s specialty ­– and to build and repair crucial infrastructure, like roads, bridges and utilities.

Initially, the Trump administration promised a determination in June. But June came and went. As the months dragged on, imports surged. That threatens the viability of mills like Conshohocken. Then, just last week, administration officials said they would do nothing until after Congress passes tax legislation.That compounded uncertainty.

The Conshohocken mill may not survive the delay. Kameen, Ron and the 203 other workers there could lose their jobs because Congress dawdles or fails to act on taxes. America could lose its domestic capacity to quickly produce large quantities of high-quality light-gauge plate for armor.

After work at other, non-union jobs, Kameen began at Conshohocken at the age of 25. He finally had a position that provided good wages and benefits. “That gave me an opportunity to plan for a future and build a family,” he explained.

Ron, the mill’s training coordinator, is 45 and has worked at the plant for 22 years. “This was my first true job that I could sustain a family with,” Ron told me.

He has five children ranging in age from five to 26. He needs a good job with good benefits. He knows jobs like the one he has at the mill are rare, but he’s not giving in to gloominess. “I am just trying to stay positive,” he said. “That is all I can do right now.”

Photo is of Ron Davis, grievance chair for the USW local union at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken mill

Both Ron and Kameen are frustrated by the Trump administration’s failure to penalize the foreign producers whose illegal trade practices have killed steel and aluminum jobs, closed mills across the country and threatened America’s domestic capability to produce metals essential to construction of critical infrastructure and vital to the defense department to safeguard the country.

Since the Trump administration launched the national security probes into steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act in April, imports have risen significantly. Steel imports are up 21 percent over last year. Countries like China, fearing impending penalties for predatory and illegal trade practices, dumped more than ever.

The administration has nine months to complete the Section 232 investigation. It could be January before the results are announced. Then the president has another three months to decide what to do. Instead of the two months the administration initially promised, the whole process could take a year.

A year could be too long for mills like Conshohocken.

“It doesn’t take that long to investigate this,” Kameen said. “We are losing jobs. They are dropping like flies. The administration needs to act now to prevent these unfair imports from killing more American jobs.”

Because of unfair and illegal imports since 2000, particularly from China, U.S. steel mills idled sections or closed, cutting the nation’s capacity to produce by 17 million tons a year and throwing 48,000 steelworkers out of jobs.

Now, there is only one surviving U.S. mill capable of producing grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES)required for electrical transmission.

The same decline occurred in aluminum, only it happened even faster. The number of U.S. smelters dropped from 14 in 2011 to five last year. That is the loss of thousands more good, family-supporting jobs. It happened because China expanded its overcapacity to produce cheap, state-subsidized aluminum, depressing the global price by 46 percent in just eight years.

Now, there is only one surviving U.S. smelter capable of producing the high-purity aluminum essential to fighter jets like the F-35 and other military vehicles.

While ArcelorMittal may contend that it can manufacture military-grade steel plate at its other U.S. mills, the loss of Conshohocken would mean a dangerous decline in U.S. capacity.

Capacity is crucial in emergencies. An example occurred in 2007 when U.S. military deaths were rising in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered a 15-fold increase in production of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles. That meant the number produced each month had to rise from 82 to more than 1,100. The Conshohocken plant produced much of the steel needed to achieve the goal.

Without that mill, the nation’s ability to gear up in such an emergency is compromised.  Two weeks ago, 10 retired generals wrote President Trump warning: “America’s increasing reliance on imported steel and aluminum from potentially hostile or uncooperative foreign governments, or via uncertain supply routes, jeopardizes our national security.”

They also said of the Section 232 investigation, “Prompt action is necessary before it is too late.”

When Kameen started at the mill 11 years ago, he felt good about the work. Conshohocken was making a lot of armor for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that gave him the sense that he was doing something for his country.

Now, he’s concerned for his local union members, whose average age is 50.

As their president, Kameen, who is only 37, feels responsible to help each of them through the uncertainty and the difficulties ahead. “My members are looking at me for answers and leadership,” he told me. “So if I don’t stay strong and lead, then I’m the wrong man for the job.”

Every steelworker and aluminum worker in America is looking to President Trump for that kind of leadership. Their uncertainty could be relieved if the administration would announce the results of the Section 232 investigation now and act immediately to ensure the United States has the domestic ability to produce essential metals.

Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017

October 02 American Federation of Labor officially endorses campaign for a 6-hour day, 5-day workweek - 1934 Joining with 400,000 coal miners already on strike, 500,000 CIO steel workers close down the nation’s foundries, steel and iron mills, demanding pensions and better wages and working conditions - 1949 Starbucks Workers Union baristas at an outlet in East Grand Rapids, Mich., organized by the Wobblies, win their grievances after the National Labor Relations Board cites the company for labor law violations, including threats against union activists - 2007 (Grievance Guide, 13th edition: This easy-to-use handbook documents patterns in a wide range of commonly grieved areas including discharge and discipline, leaves of absence, promotions, strikes and lockouts, and more. The editors give a complete picture of the precedents and guidelines that arbitrators are using to address grievance cases today.) Union members, progressives and others rally in Washington D.C., under the Banner of One Nation Working Together, demand “good jobs, equal justice, and quality education for all.” Crowd estimates range from tens of thousands to 200,000 - 2010  October 03 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017The state militia is called in after 164 high school students in Kincaid, Ill., go on strike when the school board buys coal from the scab Peabody Coal Co. - 1932 The Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America is founded in Camden, N.J. It eventually merged with the Int’l Association of Machinists, in 1988 - 1933 Pacific Greyhound Lines bus drivers in seven western states begin what is to become a 3-week strike, eventually settling for a 10.5-percent raise - 1945 The United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) is formed as a self-governing union, an outgrowth of the CIO's Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee. UPWA merged with the Meatcutters union in 1968, which in turn merged with the Retail Clerks in 1979, forming the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) - 1943 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017 The United Auto Workers calls for a company-wide strike against Ford Motor Co., the first since Ford’s initial contract with the union 20 years earlier - 1961 Folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie ("This Land is Your Land", "Union Maid" and hundreds of others) dies of Huntington's disease in New York at the age of 55 - 1967 Baseball umpires strike for recognition of their newly-formed Major League Umpires Association, win after one day - 1970 October 04 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017Work begins on the carving of Mt. Rushmore, a task 400 craftsmen would eventually complete in 1941.  Despite the dangerous nature of the project, not one worker died - 1927 President Truman orders the U.S. Navy to seize oil refineries, breaking a 20-state post-war strike - 1945 The United Mine Workers of America votes to re-affiliate with the AFL-CIO after years of on-and-off conflict with the federation. In 2009 the union’s leader, Richard Trumka, becomes AFL-CIO President - 1961 Distillery, Wine & Allied Workers Int’l Union merges with United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union - 1995 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017October 05 A strike by set decorators turns into a bloody riot at the gates of Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, Calif., when scabs try to cross the picket line. The incident is still identified as "Hollywood Black Friday" and "The Battle of Burbank" - 1945 The UAW ends a 3-week strike against Ford Motor Co. when the company agrees to a contract that includes more vacation days and better retirement and unemployment benefits - 1976 Polish Solidarity union founder Lech Walesa wins the Nobel Peace Prize - 1983 Some 2,100 supermarket janitors in California, mostly from Mexico, win a $22.4 million settlement over unpaid overtime. Many said they worked 70 or more hours a week, often seven nights a week from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. Cleaner Jesus Lopez told the New York Times he only had three days off in five years - 2004 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017 (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.) October 06 First National Conference of Trade Union Women – 1918 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017The first “talkie” movie, The Jazz Singer, premiers in New York City.  Within three years, according to the American Federation of Musicians, theater jobs for some 22,000 musicians who accompanied silent movies were lost, while only a few hundred jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created by the new technology - 1927 Some 1,700 female flight attendants win 18-year, $37 million suit against United Airlines. They had been fired for getting married - 1986 Thirty-two thousand machinists begin what is to be a successful 69-day strike against the Boeing Co. The eventual settlement brought improvements that averaged an estimated $19,200 in wages and benefits over four years and safeguards against job cutbacks - 1995 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017October 07 Joe Hill, labor leader and songwriter, born in Gavle, Sweden - 1879 The Structural Building Trades Alliance (SBTA) is founded, becomes the AFL’s Building Trades Dept. five years later. SBTA’s mission: to provide a form to work out jurisdictional conflicts - 1903 Hollywood’s "Battle of the Mirrors." Picketing members of the Conference of Studio Unions disrupted an outdoor shoot by holding up large reflectors that filled camera lenses with blinding sunlight. Members of the competing IATSE union retaliated by using the reflectors to shoot sunlight back across the street. The battle went on all day, writes Tom Sito in Drawing the Line - 1946 Today in labor history for the week of October 2, 2017October 08 Thirty of the city's 185 firefighters are injured battling the Great Chicago Fire, which burned for three days - 1871 Structural Building Trades Alliance organizes in Indianapolis with goal of eliminating jurisdictional strikes that were seriously disrupting the industry and shoring up the power of international unions over local building trades councils. Conflicts between large and small unions doomed the group and it disbanded six years later - 1902 In Poland, the union Solidarity and all other labor organizations are banned by the government - 1982 Upholsterers' Int’l Union of North America merges with United Steelworkers of America - 1985 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten  

Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017

September 18 The Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) is formally founded at an Ohio convention, during a period of serious corruption in the union. Two years earlier at an IBT convention in Las Vegas, a union reform leader who (unsuccessfully) called for direct election of officers and a limit on officers’ salaries had been beaten by thugs - 1978 Nine strikebreakers are killed in an explosion at Giant (gold) Mine near Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Miner Roger Warren confessed that he planted the explosives that caused the deaths. He recanted the confession but later confessed once again - 1992 A 20-month illegal lockout of 2,900 Steelworkers members at Kaiser Aluminum plants in three states ends when an arbitrator orders a new contract. Kaiser was forced to fire scabs and fork over tens of millions of dollars in back pay to union members - 1999 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017One week after the September 11, 2001, attacks, anthrax spores are mailed by an unknown party to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Five people exposed to the spores died, including two workers at Washington, D.C.’s USPS Brentwood facility: Thomas Morris, Jr. and Joseph Curseen, who were to die of their exposure within the month – 2001 September 19 Chinese coal miners forced out of Black Diamond, Wash. - 1885 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017 Between 400,000 and 500,000 unionists converge on Washington D.C., for a Solidarity Day march and rally protesting Republican policies – 1981 Musician and labor educator Joe Glazer, often referred to as “Labor’s Troubadour,” died today at age 88.  Some of his more acclaimed songs include "The Mill Was Made of Marble," "Too Old To Work" and "Automaton." In 1979 he and labor folklorist Archie Green convened a meeting of 14 other labor musicians to begin what was to become the annual Great Labor Arts Exchange and, soon thereafter, the Labor Heritage Foundation - 2006 September 20 Upton Sinclair, socialist and author of The Jungle—published on this day in 1906—born in Baltimore, Md. - 1878 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017According to folklorist John Garst, steel-drivin’ man John Henry, born a slave, outperformed a steam hammer on this date at the Coosa Mountain Tunnel or the Oak Mountain Tunnel of the Columbus and Western Railway (now part of the Norfolk Southern) near Leeds, Ala. Other researchers place the contest near Talcott, W. Va. - 1887 Int’l Hod Carriers, Building & Common Laborers Union of America changes name to Laborers' Int’l Union - 1965 September 21 Militia sent to Leadville, Colo., to break miners’ strike - 1896 Mother Jones leads a march of miners' children through the streets of Charleston, W. Va. - 1912 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017(Changing Roles, Changing Lives: Stories of Women During the Industrial Revolution: During the Industrial Revolution, workers were forced to endure dangerous working conditions for miserable wages. Among those who courageously spoke out against this poor treatment were some remarkable women, including Mary Harris “Mother” Jones and Sarah G. Bagley, whose stories are told here for young readers.)  National Football League Players Association members begin what is to become a 57-day strike, their first regular-season walkout ever - 1982 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017Members of five unions at the Frontier Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas begin what was to become the longest successful hotel strike in U.S. history. All 550 workers honored the picket line for the entirety of the 6-year, 4-month, 10-day fight against management’s insistence on cutting wages and eliminating pensions - 1991 September 22 Emancipation Proclamation signed - 1862 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017Eighteen-year-old Hannah (Annie) Shapiro leads a spontaneous walkout of 17 women at a Hart Schaffner & Marx garment factory in Chicago. It grows into a months-long mass strike involving 40,000 garment workers across the city, protesting 10-hour days, bullying bosses and cuts in already-low wages - 1910 Great Steel Strike begins; 350,000 workers demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee calls off the strike, their goal unmet, 108 days later - 1919 Martial law rescinded in Mingo County, W. Va., after police, U.S. troops and hired goons finally quell coal miners' strike - 1922 U.S. Steel announces it will cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent - 1931 United Textile Workers strike committee orders strikers back to work after 22 days out, ending what was at that point the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor. The strike involved some 400,000 workers in New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South - 1934 Some 400,000 coal miners strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio - 1935 The AFL expels the Int’l Longshoremen's Association for racketeering; six years later the AFL-CIO accepted them back into the house of labor - 1953 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017OSHA reaches its largest ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 - 2005 Eleven Domino's employees in Pensacola, Fla., form the nation's first union of pizza delivery drivers - 2006 San Francisco hotel workers end a 2-year contract fight, ratify a new 5-year pact with their employers - 2006 September 23 The Workingman's Advocate of Chicago publishes the first installment of The Other Side, by Martin A. Foran, president of the Coopers' Int’l Union. Believed to be the first novel by a trade union leader and some say the first working-class novel ever published in the U.S. - 1868 Today in labor history for the week of September 18, 2017A coalition of Knights of Labor and trade unionists in Chicago launch the United Labor party, calling for an 8-hour day, government ownership of telegraph and telephone companies, and monetary and land reform. The party elects seven state assembly men and one senator - 1886 A 42-month strike by Steelworkers at Bayou Steel in Louisiana ends in a new contract and the ousting of scabs - 1996 California Gov. Gray Davis (D) signs legislation making the state the first to offer workers paid family leave - 2002 September 24 Canada declares the Wobblies illegal - 1918 —Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Workers Fail To See Gains As Healthcare Sector Grows

Washington, DC ― The healthcare sector is one of the most important sources of jobs in the economy. Healthcare spending reached $3.2 trillion in 2015, or 17.8 percent of GDP, and accounted for 12.8 percent of private sector jobs. It was also the only industry that consistently added jobs during the Great Recession, and grew 20 percent between 2005 and 2015. Despite this growth, wages have either declined or been stagnant over the past decade for healthcare workers in hospitals and outpatient centers.

new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with additional funding provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, describes the changing patterns of jobs and wages for healthcare workers, specifically in hospitals and outpatient clinics over the decade from 2005 to 2015. The healthcare sector has become more demographically diverse over the decade, but as jobs shift from hospitals to outpatient centers, wages are declining or stagnating, and inequality is increasing. (See healthcareworkers.us for more info and related blog posts.)

The report, “Organizational Restructuring in U.S. Healthcare Systems: Implications for Jobs, Wages, and Inequality,” provides a detailed breakdown of which groups of workers are experiencing stagnant or declining wages. For instance, the report finds that employment in outpatient centers has grown six times the rate of hospitals, but the only demographic group in these facilities to see wage gains is white men ― and these are modest. Some other highlights include:

  • Job growth in outpatient facilities was disproportionately high for black workers (65 percent growth rate), Hispanic workers (103 percent), and Asian/others (82 percent), and within these groups, women’s job growth outpaced that of men.
  • Overall median real hourly wages rose very modestly in hospitals, increasing by 75 cents over the decade from $23.79 to $24.54. This was an increase of 3.2 percent over the decade, or less than a third of a percent a year on average.
  • The findings in this report show that the unraveling of hospital-based employment systems is associated with greater wage inequality. Wages have declined over the decade in outpatient care facilities, with notable declines in the pay of black men employed as medical technicians or as health aides and assistants.  In hospitals, the rise in real wages among healthcare professionals and the modest fall in wages for non-professional groups suggest that inequality has increased within hospital settings.

Eileen Appelbaum, co-author of the report and Senior Economist at CEPR, stated: “Declining real wages in outpatient services cannot be explained by factors that often influence wage determination: educational level, age, or the share of workers who are part-time or foreign-born. Educational attainment rose for virtually every occupational group ― in some cases, substantially ― and is higher in outpatient care centers than in hospitals.”

Rosemary Batt, co-author and Cornell University professor, points to institutional explanations such as changes in union density. “While union density increased among professional employees between 2005 and 2015, union density has fallen among non-professional employees, particularly in outpatient settings. This may have contributed to the decline in median real wages for these workers.”

For more on the report’s findings, including blog posts and related materials, see healthcareworkers.us.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Works To Address NH’s Manufacturing Woes

Shea-Porter Announces UNH Project to Address State’s Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Needs

Rep Shea-Porter at the 2016 NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast showing her support for working families.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that the University of New Hampshire has been awarded a $300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to launch a pilot project in collaboration with the state’s community colleges and advanced manufacturing partners. The partnership will work to address the workforce needs of New Hampshire’s advanced manufacturing sector.

“This innovative project will leverage New Hampshire’s strengths to address the pressing need for in-state advanced manufacturing workers,” said Shea-Porter. “I congratulate UNH on launching this unique partnership, which will also support low-income students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs at our community colleges.”

UNH’s pilot project will be a collaborative effort with the Community College System of New Hampshire, local advanced manufacturing businesses, and the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs to address workforce development in the advanced manufacturing sector in the state. The grant will provide mentorship, paid internships and job placement for students as well as work with businesses throughout the state. Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technology to improve manufacturing products or processes. It’s a leading industry in the Granite State and a $1.7 trillion industry nationwide.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from NSF and Congresswoman Shea-Porter,” said P.T. Vasudevan, senior vice provost for academic affairs at UNH and the principal investigator on the $300,000 grant. “We believe working to support and retain low-income students currently in the degree programs that will help us to grow the pipeline of advance manufacturing workers will benefit not only students and industry leaders in the state, but the state as a whole.”

UNH received one of 27 new awards through NSF’s INCLUDES program, aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations through a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In 2009, Shea-Porter helped initiate New Hampshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in Education (AMPEd), which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and has successfully helped New Hampshire businesses and colleges partner to invest in the state’s manufacturing workforce.

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017

September 11
Some 75,000 coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia end a 10-week strike after winning an 8-hour day, semi-monthly pay, and the abolition of overpriced company-owned stores, where they had been forced to shop. (Remember the song, “Sixteen Tons,” by coal miner’s son Merle Travis, in which there’s this line: “I owe my soul to the company store.”) – 1897

More than 3,000 people died when suicide highjackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.  Among the dead in New York were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell – 2001

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life Norma Rae of the movies, dies at age 68. She worked at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., when low pay and poor working conditions led her to become a union activist – 2009

September 12
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and socialist, sentenced to 10 years for opposing World War I. While in jail Debs received one million votes for president – 1918

Jobless workers march on grocery stores and seize food in Toledo, Ohio – 1932

National Guardsmen fire on “sullen and rebellious” strikers at the Woonsocket (Rhode Island) Rayon plant, killing one and injuring three others.  A correspondent said the crowd of about 2,000 “went completely wild with rage.”  Word spread, 6,000 more workers arrived at the scene and the city was put under military rule.  The governor declared that “there is a Communist uprising and not a textile strike” in the state – 1934

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017United Rubber Workers formed in Akron, Ohio – 1935

A total of 49 people are killed, 200 injured, in explosion at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Kenvil, N.J. – 1940

New York City’s Union Square, the site of the first Labor Day in 1882, is officially named a national historic landmark. The square has long been a focal point for working class protest and political expression – 1998

September 13Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017
The Post Office Department orders 25,000 railway mail clerks to shoot to kill any bandits attempting to rob the mail – 1926

Eleven AFSCME-represented prison employees, 33 inmates die in four days of rioting at New York State’s Attica Prison and the retaking of the prison. The riot caused the nation to take a closer look at prison conditions, for inmates and their guards alike – 1971

September 14
The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union calls off an unsuccessful 3-month strike against U. S. Steel Corporation subsidiaries – 1901

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017Gastonia, N.C., textile mill striker and songwriter Ella May Wiggins, 29, a mother of five, is killed when local vigilantes and thugs force the pickup truck in which she is riding off the road and begin shooting – 1929

A striker is shot by a bog owner (and town-elected official) during a walkout by some 1,500 cranberry pickers, members of the newly-formed Cape Cod Cranberry Pickers Union Local 1. State police were called, more strikers were shot and 64 were arrested. The strike was lost – 1933

Congress passes the Landrum-Griffin Act. The law expands many of the anti-labor provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, increasing union reporting requirements and restricting secondary boycotting and picketing – 1959

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017(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 with.)

September 15
Some 5,000 female cotton workers in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., strike for a 10-hour day. The next day, male trade unionists become the first male auxiliary when they gather to protect the women from police attacks. The strike ultimately failed – 1845

President Kennedy signs off on a $900 million public-works bill for projects in economically depressed areas – 1962

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017More than 350,000 members of the United Auto Workers begin what is to become a 69-day strike against General Motors – 1970

Int’l Association of Siderographers merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1992

September 16
More than 43,000 oil workers strike in 20 states, part of the post-war strike wave – 1945

A player lockout by the National Hockey League begins, leading to cancellation of what would have been the league’s 88th season. The lockout, over owner demands that salaries be capped, lasted 310 days – 2004

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee wins a signed contract with the Mount Olive Pickle Co. and growers, ending a 5-year boycott.  The agreement marked the first time an American labor union represented guest workers – 2004
Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017
Richard Trumka is elected president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s convention in Pittsburgh.  He had served as the secretary-treasurer under predecessor John Sweeney from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was president of the United Mine Workers for 13 years – 2009

September 17
Seventy-five workers die in explosion at Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburgh, Pa. – 1862

Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony calls for the formation of a Working Women’s Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote – 1868

One hundred thousand Pennsylvania anthracite coal miners go on strike. Their average annual wage is $250. They are paid by the ton, defined by Pennsylvania as 2,400 pounds, but which mine operators have increased to as much as 4,000 pounds – 1900

National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) formed at a convention in Washington, D.C. In 1999 it became part of the Int’l Association of Machinists (IAM) – 1917

Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09 – 1933

Southern employers meeting in Greenville, N.C., ready their big counter-offensive to break the textile labor strikes that have hit the Eastern seaboard. Ultimately they deploy 10,000 national guardsmen and 15,000 deputies, but fail to drive hundreds of thousands of strikers back to work – 1934

A Southern Pacific train loaded with sugar beets strikes a makeshift bus filled with 60 migrant workers near Salinas, Calif., killing 32. The driver said the bus was so crowded he couldn’t see the train coming – 1963

A total of 98 United Mine Workers of America members and a minister occupy the Pittston Coal Company’s Moss 3 preparation plant in Carbon, Va., beginning a year-long strike. Among other issues: management demands for drastic limitations in health and pension benefits for retired and disabled miners and their dependents and beneficiaries – 1989

The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that Today in labor history for the week of September 11, 2017ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” – 2011

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

This Labor Day, Working Families Join Together to Change a Rigged System

New AFL-CIO Labor Day Report Shows Working People are Working More and Taking Fewer Vacation Days  

View Report Here: https://aflcio.org/reports/laboring-labor-day

(Washington, DC) – This Labor Day working families across the nation are participating in hundreds of events to commemorate the achievements of workers and to confront a rigged system that has favored CEOs and corporations for decades.

More than 200 events are taking place today, from barbecues to parades, where thousands of working people are massing to celebrate work, and urge elected officials to restore the freedom to join together and negotiate for better wages, benefits and time to spend with their families.

In Cleveland, families are gathering in a parade and picnic. In downtown Philadelphia, more than 5,000 people are expected to attend the 30th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration, while across the state in Pittsburgh, working families are marching through the downtown area and in nearby northwestern Pennsylvania towns. Working people in Detroit are joining in the “Rise Up Unions—Fight for Your Rights” parade.

In addition, in Milwaukee more than 4,000 working people and their families will join under the theme “Stand Together, Stand Strong: Join the Fight for Workers’ Rights.” The day’s activities include a Labor Day parade followed by a festival (Laborfest), with local labor and community leaders on the bill.

“Labor Day is an opportunity to both recognize the achievements of working people and identify areas for improvement,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Today, work and time off are badly out of balance. More people are working more holidays, taking fewer vacations and bringing more work home at night. This means less freedom—freedom to take time off when you or a loved one gets sick, rest and recharge after giving birth, attend your child’s recital or sporting event, or just catch up on some household chores.”

A poll released by Gallup last week showed 61% of adults surveyed approved of labor unions—the highest percentage since 2003. According to this poll, most respondents would like unions to have greater influence. This could be the result of the continuous erosion of wages and rights, including paid time off, as outlined in a Labor Day report commissioned by the AFL-CIO.

The federation’s report found that while 78% of workers say they have the day off on Labor Day, more than a quarter of those people expect to do some work, and more than half of those working will not receive overtime benefits. More than half of Americans surveyed said they were working more holidays and weekends than ever, and 43% said they brought work home at least one night a week.

Union members are more likely to receive Labor Day off and overtime pay compared with their nonunion counterparts. Sixty-six percent of union members receive overtime pay on Labor Day, compared with 38% of nonunion members. Women, often the primary caregivers in their families, are less likely than men to report access to paid time off—68% vs. 74%.

“Whether it’s raising wages, paid leave, gender and racial equality or simply the freedom to negotiate for a better life, unions are needed now more than ever,” Trumka said. “We can help deliver the economic rules working people are hungry for. That’s our focus and mission this Labor Day and beyond.”

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