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October 30, 1912

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Little Falls, New York, mounted police attack striking textile workers – mostly immigrant women and girls – beating some of them unconscious. The police chased the fleeing workers to their strike headquarters, continuing their assault, ransacking the building, destroying their union charter, and arresting the entire strike committee. Despite this, the workers saw the strike through until January 1913, when they won an agreement that included reinstatements, wage increases, and other demands.

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October 29, 1919

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October 29

The International Labour Organization holds its first conference in Washington, D.C., adopting six international Labor Conventions. Created as part of the Treaty of Versailles after World War II, the ILO today is made up 185 of the United Nations member states. The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international labor standards and policies; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments.

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October 27, 1951

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The National Negro Labor Council is formed in Cincinnati, Ohio. Delegates from around the country gathered to denounce racial discrimination in the workplace, segregation, and the slow pace at which the labor movement as a whole addressed these problems. The NNLC was branded a communist front by the U.S. Attorney General, investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and dissolved in 1956 under mounting legal defense costs.

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Today in labor history for the week of October 27, 2014

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October 27
The New York City subway, the first rapid-transit system in America, opens. More than 100 workers died during the construction of the first 13 miles of tunnels and track – 1904
(Survival of the Fittest: Thanks to unions, construction jobs don’t cost lives the way they used to. If you’d like to know more about construction unions, especially if you’re considering a career in the trades, read this book. In clear, easy-to-read language it explains how to be successful in the trades and, directly linked to that success, how to make union construction thrive and prosper.)

Three strikes on works-relief projects in Maryland were underway today, with charges that Depression-era Works Projects Administration jobs were paying only about 28 cents an hour—far less than was possible on direct relief. Civic officials in Cumberland, where authorities had established a 50-cent-per-hour minimum wage, supported the strikers – 1935

The National Negro Labor Council is formed in Cincinnati to unite black workers in the struggle for full economic, political and social equality. The group was to function for five years before disbanding, having forced many AFL and CIO unions to adopt non-discrimination policies – 1951

2014.10.27history-luisa.capetilloOctober 28
Union organizer and anarchist Luisa Capetillo is born in Ariecibo, Puerto Rico. She organized tobacco and other agricultural workers in Puerto Rico and later in New York and Florida. In 1916 she led a successful sugar cane strike of more than 40,000 workers on the island. She demanded that her union endorse voting rights for women. In 1919, three years before her death, she was arrested for wearing pants in public, the first woman in Puerto Rico to do so. The charges were dropped – 1879

The Gateway Arch, a 630-foot high parabola of stainless steel marking the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the waterfront of St. Louis, Mo., is completed after two and one-half years. Although it was predicted 13 lives would be lost in construction, not a single Ironworker died – 1965

October 29
Japanese immigrant and labor advocate Katsu Goto is strangled to death, his body then strung from an electric pole, on the Big Island of Hawaii by thugs hired by plantation owners. They were outraged over Goto’s work on behalf of agricultural workers and because he opened a general store that competed with the owners’ own company store – 1889

Wall Street crashes—”Black Tuesday”—throwing the world’s economy into a years-long crisis including an unemployment rate in the U.S. that by 1933 hit nearly 25 percent – 1929

October 302014.10.27history-meese.is.a.pig
Ed Meese, attorney general in the Ronald Reagan administration, urges employers to begin spying on workers “in locker rooms, parking lots, shipping and mail room areas and even the nearby taverns” to try to catch them using drugs – 1986

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

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

2014.10.27history-mt.rushmoreAfter 14 years of labor by 400 stone masons, the Mt. Rushmore sculpture is completed in Keystone, S.D. – 1941

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

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

November 01
In the nation’s first general strike for a 10-hour day, 300 armed Irish longshoremen marched through the streets of Philadelphia calling on other workers to join them. Some 20,000 did, from clerks to bricklayers to city employees and other occupations. The city announced a 10-hour workday within the week; private employers followed suit three weeks later – 18352014.10.27history-lexicon.bookcover
(The Lexicon of Labor: Perhaps you’re not quite sure what a “general strike” is. Here, you’ll find readable, informative descriptions of more than 500 key terms, places, people and events in American labor history, from explaining who the Wobblies and Knights of Labor were to reporting on the 1997 Teamster strike at UPS. It includes dozens of new terms and developments and introduces a new generation to the labor lexicon.)

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

2014.10.27history-malbone-tunnelMalbone tunnel disaster in New York City; inexperienced scab motorman crashes five-car train during strike, 97 killed, 255 injured – 1918

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to be observed on the third Monday of January – 19832014.10.27history-mlk.dignity.bookcover
(All Labor Has Dignity: People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform.)

Carmen Fasanella retired after 68 years and 243 days of taxicab service in Princeton, N.J., earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He started driving at age 17 and, reportedly, Source Link

October 26, 1905

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Over 2 million workers are on strike throughout the Russian Empire. Following the government’s massacre of more than 1,000 workers gathered at the Tsar’s palace in January, a huge wave of strikes erupted, coordinated by workers’ councils. By late December, the military put down what became known as the Russian Revolution of 1905, crushing the strikes and imprisoning the leaders of the workers’ councils.

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October 25, 2011

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Car wash workers at Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica, California, become the first to unionize in an industry where workers are often exposed to a variety of toxic chemicals without adequate protections, work for extended periods in the sun without rest or shade, and are paid a daily rate that is far less than the minimum wage. The contract provided a wage increase, health and safety protections, grievance and arbitration procedures, and prohibited the employer from firing workers without just cause.

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October 24, 1892

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Members of three unions – the Teamsters, the Scalesmen, and the Packers – go on strike in New Orleans for a 10-hour work day, overtime pay, and a union shop. A general strike involving 46 other unions and 25,000 workers quickly followed and the city came to a halt. After a number of failed attempts to divide and crush the strike, employers agreed to binding arbitration, and the workers won the 10-hour day and overtime pay, but not the union shop.

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October 23, 1989

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85,000 pounds of highly flammable gas released through an open valve ignites, resulting in a series of explosions and fire at the Phillips 66 plastics plant in Pasadena, Texas. Twenty-three workers were killed and 314 injured. OSHA’s investigation faulted the company for a host of health and safety violations and issued 566 willful and 9 serious violations with a combined total proposed penalty of over $5.5 million dollars.

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AFL-CIO Worker’s Voice PAC To Air Ads In Seven Key States

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With high stakes elections coming down to the wire across the country, the labor movement is going up on radio and TV in support of working family candidates.  The ads will build on the effective grassroots campaign that labor has been running for several months including door knocking, worksite leaflets and phone banking.

Workers’ Voice has just launched full 60 second radio ads designed to educate working families about the stakes on November 4th and promote the candidates who will work for their economic interests:

  • Senator Mark Begich (Alaska)
  • Senator Mark Udall (Colorado)
  • Congressman Bruce Braley (running for Senate in Iowa)
  • Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (running for Senate in Kentucky)
  • Congressman Mike Michaud (running for Governor in Maine)
  • Mary Burke (running for Governor in Wisconsin)

Each ad will run through Election Day in multiple markets across each state.

In addition, a 30 second television ad in Michigan launches today and will air through Election Day.

Each of these ads focus on economic issues and aim to clarify for voters which candidate will fight for a secure and growing middle class.

The Iowa radio ad is an example: By including Senate candidate Jodi Ernst’s own words in support of Social Security privatization, the ad steps above the din on an issue (retirement security) of deep-seated concern to working people in Iowa.

To listen to any of the radio ads, click below:

Alaska US Senate, Radio

Colorado US Senate, Radio

Iowa, US Senate Radio

Kentucky US Senate, Radio

Maine Governor Radio

Wisconsin Governor, Radio

And the Michigan Governor TV ad can be found here

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