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October 23, 1958

springhill-mine-survivor-and-son

The Cumberland Railway and Coal Company’s No. 2 Colliery – one of the deepest coal mines in the world – just outside the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia, is struck by an underground “bump.” The shift was the result of increased tensions in the earth due to the removal of coal and the lack of replacement support. Rescue efforts continued for days. Of the 174 men in the mine at the time, 74 were killed and 100 were trapped but eventually rescued.

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Today in labor history for the week of October 19, 2015

October 19
The National Association of Letter Carriers achieves equalization of wages for all letter carriers, meaning
city 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 20
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
(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.)

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

Presidential 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

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

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

October 23
President Theodore Roosevelt establishes a fact-finding commission that suspends a nine-months-long strike by Western Pennsylvania coal miners fighting for better pay, shorter workdays and union recognition. The strikers ended up winning more pay for fewer hours, but failed to get union recognition. It was the first time that the federal government had intervened as a neutral arbitrator in a labor dispute – 1902

Explosion and fire at Phillips Petroleum refinery in Pasadena, Texas, kills 23 and injures 314 – 1989

Postal workers Joseph Curseen and Thomas Morris die nearly a month after having inhaled anthrax at the Brentwood mail sorting center in Washington, D.C. Other postal workers had been made ill but survived. Letters containing the deadly spores had been addressed to U.S. Senate offices and media outlets – 2001

October 24
The 40-hour work week goes into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed by President Roosevelt two years earlier – 1940

U.S. minimum wage increases to 40¢ an hour – 1945

October 25
What many believe to be the first formal training on first aid in American history took place at the Windsor Hotel in Jermyn, Penn., when Dr. Matthew J. Shields instructed 25 coal miners on ways to help their fellow miners. Upon completion of the course each of the miners was prepared and able to render first aid. The training led to marked decreases in serious mining injuries and fatalities – 1899

Some 25,000 silk dye workers strike in Paterson, N.J. – 1934

In what becomes known as the Great Hawaiian Dock Strike, a 6-month struggle to win wage parity with mainland dock workers, ends in victory – 1949

The Tribune Co. begins a brutal 5-month-long lockout at the New York Daily News, part of an effort to bust the newspaper’s unions – 1990

John Sweeney, president of the Service Employees Int’l Union, elected president of AFL-CIO – 1995
(A Bitter Pill: A Lenny Moss Mystery: As president of SEIU, Sweeney represented hospitalworkers. In this entertaining mystery, hospital worker and union steward Lenny Moss and his friends at James Madison Hospital are in the fight of their lives. The new hospital president, Robert “Third Reich” Reichart, has turned the hospital into a for-profit facility and launched a campaign to decertify the union. If successful, the decertification drive will destroy the union and compromise patient care as staffing levels are slashed and departments get outsourced to private firms.)

After a two-year fight, workers at the Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica, Calif., win a union contract calling for pay increases, better breaks and other gains. “They didn’t treat us like people,” nine-year employee Oliverio Gomez told the Los Angeles Times – 2011

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October 15, 1943

October 15

At the Tule Lake Segregation Center internment camp – which held over 18,000 Japanese Americans during World War II – a truck carrying agricultural workers tips over, resulting in the death of an internee. Ten days later, the agricultural workers went on strike; the internment camp director fired all of the workers and brought in strikebreakers from other internment camps. After several outbreaks of violence, martial law was declared and 250 internees were arrested and incarcerated in a newly constructed prison within the prison.

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Today in labor history for the week of October 12, 2015

October 12
Company guards kill at least eight miners who are attempting to stop scabs, Virden, Ill. Six guards are also killed, and 30 persons wounded – 1898
(Reviving the Strike: If the American labor movement is to rise again, the author says, it will not be as a result of electing Democrats, the passage of legislation, or improved methods of union organizing. Rather, workers will need to rediscover the power of the strike. Not the ineffectual strike of today, where employees meekly sit on picket lines waiting for scabs to take their jobs, but the type of strike capable of grinding industries to a halt—the kind employed up until the 1960s.)


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 antagonism 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

The 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 15
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

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

October 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
(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

New 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
(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 Source Link

What You Should Know About That Completed TPP “Trade” Deal

global deal free tradeSpecial Guest Post from Dave Johnson of Campaign For America’s Future.  

Countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) say they have reached a deal. So here it comes.

Monday morning it was announced that a “Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached,” presented as much as a foreign policy success as a “trade” deal.

“The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific basin nations on Monday agreed after years of negotiations to the largest regional trade accord in history, an economic pact envisioned as a bulwark against China’s power and a standard-setter for global commerce, worker rights and environmental protection.

… The trade initiative, dating to the start of his administration, is a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s economic program to expand exports. It also stands as a capstone for his foreign policy “pivot” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.

The effect the deal will have on actual “trade” is unclear, since the U.S. already has trade agreements with many of the participating countries. Also much of the deal appears to be about things people would not usually consider “trade”, like investor rights and limits on the ability of countries to regulate.

Though the deal remains secret, here is some of what is known about the agreement deal.

● Currency manipulation is not addressed in TPP, even though Congress’ “fast track” legislation said it must be. To get around this, a “side agreement” supposedly sets up a “forum” on currency. Past side agreements have proven unenforceable. For this reason Ford Motor Company has already publicly announced opposition to TPP.

● A “tobacco carve-out” is in the deal, in some form. This was added because the agreement contains investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions that will allow corporations to sue governments that use laws or regulations to try to restrict what the companies do. These provisions restrict the ability of governments to protect their citizens so thoroughly that tobacco companies have used ISDS provisions in similar agreements to sue governments that try to help smokers quit or prevent children from starting smoking. TPP proponents felt that this carve-out will help TPP to pass, while the ability to limit other laws and regulations remains.

● President Obama has said TPP includes the “strongest labor provisions of any free trade agreement in history.” Previous “trade” agreements do not even stop labor organizers from being murdered, so even if TPP has “stronger” labor provisions, that is an extremely low bar.

● TPP reduces or eliminates many tariffs, further encouraging companies to move factories out of the U.S. to low-wage countries like Vietnam. An example of the effect TPP will have on U.S. manufacturing is Nike vs. New Balance. Nike already outsources its manufacturing to take advantage of low wages, while New Balance is trying to continue to manufacture in the U.S. When tariffs on imported shoes are eliminated Nike will gain an even greater advantage over New Balance. New Balance has said that the tariff reductions in TPP will force it to stop manufacturing inside the US.

● The reduction and elimination of tariffs reduces revenues for the governments involved.

What Next?

Here is a brief rundown on what to expect as TPP begins to make its way toward a Congressional vote:

● The TPP is still secret and according to the terms in this year’s fast-track legislation it will remain secret for 30 days after the president formally notifies Congress that he will sign it. That could be a while still, as the agreement’s details need to be “ironed out.” After that 30-day wait the full text has to be public for 60 days before Congress can vote. The full timeline is yet to unfold and will be reported here as it does.

● Expect a massive and massively funded corporate PR push. The biggest corporations very much want TPP. It massively benefits the interests of giant corporations and the “investor” class, even as it incentivizes moving jobs and production out of the U.S.

● While only a small portion of TPP is about what people would normally consider to be “trade,” TPP will be heavily pushed as a “trade” deal. Many people believe that “expanding trade” increases jobs. Note that closing a U.S. factory and importing the same goods “expands trade” because those goods cross a border.

Also see the American Prospect, “What’s Next for the TPP: Clyde Prestowitz in Conversation with David Dayen.”

Questions To Ask About TPP

When the still-secret TPP becomes public, these are some of the questions the public will want answered:

● What do regular, non-wealthy people in the U.S. get from TPP? Will it increase American wages? Will it have provisions that force wage increases in countries that currently pay very little, thereby helping those workers (and helping them buy American-made products, too) and reducing downward pressure on American wages? Or will there be NAFTA-style provisions encouraging outsourcing to low-wage countries like Vietnam, creating further downward pressure on wages and increasing inequality?

● What do people in the U.S. lose? For example, the Los Angeles Times explains, “U.S. industries such as auto, textiles and dairy, however, could experience some losses as they are likely to face greater competitive pressures from Vietnam, Japan and New Zealand.”

● Does the TPP contain badly needed provisions to require member countries to jointly fight global climate change?

● Will provisions on state-owned enterprises force further privatization of publicly owned and publicly operated infrastructure like the U.S. Postal Service, highways, water systems and other public utilities – even services like municipal parking operations?

● Will TPP enable the U.S. to continue using tax dollars to help American companies, like our “Buy America” procurement policies?

● Will TPP expand imports from countries where food is often found to contain banned toxic chemicals? If so, will TPP require increases in food and product safety standards and inspections?

● Does the TPP increase oversight of financial companies like banks, insurance companies and hedge funds?

TPP Pits Obama, Republicans, Wall Street And Big Corporations Against Democrats, Labor, Progressives

While still secret, the agreement is likely to have many of the same proponents and opponents as the fast-track trade promotion authority battle had. As the Los Angeles Times words ittoday, it “pits the White House, many Republicans and supporters of free trade against organized labor, civic groups and many lawmakers from Obama’s own party, who fear the deal will hurt workers and the environment.”

In a Monday morning call Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said the TPP text Congress is allowed to see has not been updated for some time, so even they don’t know what is in it. Saying Congress has had to rely on leaks and hasn’t seen the supposed “side agreements” at all, DeLauro asked the administration to “have the courage” to show Congress and the public the text now.

DeLauro complained that leaked drafts show U.S. negotiators negotiating hard for pharmaceutical companies, but not for the interests of American workers. “The administration has put big corporations first, workers last.”

She said rules-of-origin requirements allow less than half to be made in U.S. and TPP countries, the rest can come from countries like China. “None of us can think of a clearer mechanism for taking American jobs”

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) said, “we’ve seen the nightmare NAFTA brought to our manufacturing sector and hard-working American families; this deal is NAFTA on steroids” because this is much broader. Multinational corporations will benefit from increased drug prices and access to cheaper labor.

Rep. Dan “Rock Star” Kildee (D-Mich.) said “what’s not there is there is a lack of any enforceable currency provision. This ties American manufacturer’s hands behind their back as they try to compete. Worse, new rules of origin allow the Chinese to provide more than half the content of a car and it will be treated as domestic. Combined with no currency rules, this will have a devastating effect.”

He added, “I would ask members who voted for fast track to look at the details. When they see specific details and impact on their businesses I think they will vote no.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said, “I’m a car girl … we are only operating on early reports but already Ford and Chrysler are opposed, joining the UAW, and those companies have strongly supported previous deals.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) called TPP a “huge win for China because of currency, rules of origin; we get zero access to the Chinese market.”

On the ability to ensure even these ow rules of origin, Sherman said, “What about de facto rules? How does anyone police it? Are Chinese going to report companies that are mislabeling?”

Petitions

The Teamsters are asking people to sign this petition:” Tell Congress: Show Me the Text on Reported TPP Deal.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has released this petition and is asking people for signatures: “Sign my petition to join our fight against the disastrous Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. We cannot afford to let this trade deal hurt consumers and cost America jobs.”

The U.S. Trade Representative office has released this summary

Today in labor history for the week of October 5, 2015

October 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
(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

The 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

October 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
(Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits follows the history of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO from the emergence of building trades councils in the age of the skyscraper. It takes the reader through treacherous fights over jurisdiction as new building materials and methods of work evolved; and describes numerous Department campaigns to improve safety standards, work with contractors to promote unionized construction, and forge a sense of industrial unity among its autonomous and highly diverse affiliates.)

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

October 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

October 09
United Hebrew Trades is organized in New York by shirt maker Morris Hillquit and others. Hillquit would later would 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

An estimated 3,300 sanitation workers working for private haulers in Chicago win a 9-day strike featuring a 28-percent wage increase over five years – 2003

October 10
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 also killed, and 30 persons wounded – 1898

Fourteen miners killed, 22 wounded by scab herders 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

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