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Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016

December 05
Unionists John T. and James B. McNamara are sentenced to 15 years and life, respectively, after confessing to dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a drive to unionize the metal trades in the city.  They placed the bomb in an alley next to the building, set to detonate when they thought the building would be empty; it went off early, and an unanticipated gas explosion and fire did the real damage, killing twenty people. The newspaper was strongly conservative and anti-union – 1911

Ending a 20-year split, the two largest labor federations in the U.S. merge to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million – 1955
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcomes the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, declaring, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” – 1999

The U.S. Department of Labor reports employers slashed 533,000 jobs the month before—the most in 34 years—as the Great Recession surged. The unemployment rolls had risen for seven months before that and were to continue to soar for another 10 months before topping 10 percent and beginning to level off late the following year – 2008

December 06
African-American delegates meet in Washington, D.C., to form the Colored National Labor Union as a Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016branch of the all-White National Labor Union created three years earlier. Unlike the NLU, the CNLU welcomed members of all races. Isaac Myers was the CNLU’s founding president; Frederick Douglass became president in 1872 – 1869

The Washington Monument is completed in Washington, D.C. On the interior of the monument are 193 commemorative stones, donated by numerous governments and organizations from all over the world; one of them is from the Int’l Typographical Union, founded in 1852.  In 1986 the ITU merged into the Communications Workers of America – 1884

A total of 361 coal miners die at Monongah, W.Va., in nation’s worst mining disaster – 1907

Int’l Glove Workers Union of America merges into Amalgamated Clothing Workers – 1961

United Mine Workers begin what is to become a 110-day national coal strike – 1997
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016
December 07
Heywood Broun born in New York City. Journalist, columnist and co-founder, in 1933, of The Newspaper Guild – 1888

Steam boiler operators from 11 cities across the country meet in Chicago to form the National Union of Steam Engineers of America, the forerunner to the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers. Each of the men represented a local union of 40 members or fewer – 1896

More than 1,600 protesters staged a national hunger march on Washington, D.C., to present demands for unemployment insurance – 1931

United Hatters, Cap & Millinery Workers Int’l Union merges into Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union – 1982
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016
Delegates to the founding convention of the National Nurses United (NNU) in Phoenix, Ariz., unanimously endorse the creation of the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in U.S. history. The 150,000-member union is the product of a merger of three groups – 2009

December 08
Twenty-five unions found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; Cigarmaker’s union leader Samuel Gompers is elected president. The AFL’s founding document’s preamble reads: “A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer…” – 1886

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016(There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America: This thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement traces unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today. Illustrated with dozens of photos, posters and more.)

114-day newspaper strike begins, New York City – 1962

President Bill Clinton signs The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – 1993

Nearly 230 jailed teachers—about one-fourth of the 1,000-member Middletown Township, N.J., staff—are Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016ordered freed after they and their colleagues agree to end a 9-day strike and go into mediation with the local school board – 2001

Faced with a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, President Barack Obama outlines new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals, saying the country must continue to “spend our way out of this recession” until more Americans are back at work. Joblessness had soared 6 percent in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency – 2009

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016December 09
Ratification of a new labor agreement at Titan Tire of Natchez, Miss., ends the longest strike in the history of the U.S. tire industry, which began May 1, 1998, at the company’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant – 2001

December 10
First sit-down strike in U.S. called by IWW at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. – 1906

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016(No Contract, No Peace: A Legal Guide to Contract Campaigns, Strikes, and Lockouts is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. No Contract, No Peace! updates information contained in the first edition, entitled Strikes, Picketing and Inside Campaigns, to include reference to recent union activities and NLRB decisions that have affected the labor relations environment. Schwartz’s familiarity with labor and employment law combines with his activist spirit to provide innovative yet practical tips for mounting and maintaining meaningful campaigns designed to build union and workers’ power.)

Int’l Human Rights Day, commemorating the signing at the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part: “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” – 1948

American Federation of Teachers Local 89 in Atlanta, Georgia, disaffiliates from the national union because of an AFT directive that all its locals integrate. A year later, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to do so – 1956

Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016December 11
A small group of Black farmers organize the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union in Houston County, Texas. They had been barred from membership in the all-White Southern Farmers’ Alliance. Through intensive organizing, along with merging with another Black farmers group, the renamed Colored Alliance by 1891 claimed a membership of 1.2 million – 1886

Ten days after an Illinois State mine inspector approved coal dust removal techniques at New Orient mine in West Frankfort, the mine exploded, largely because of coal dust accumulations, killing 119 workers – 1951

The U.S. Department of Labor announces that the nation’s unemployment rate had dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest mark in 15 years – 1968
Today in labor history for the week of December 5, 2016
Forty thousand workers go on general strike in London, Ontario—a city with a population of 300,000—protesting cuts in social services – 1995

Michigan becomes the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation.  The Republican-dominated state Senate introduced two measures—one covering private workers, the other covering public workers—by surprise five days earlier and immediately voted their passage; the Republican House approved them five days later (the fastest it legally could) and the Republican governor immediately signed both bills – 2012

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016

November 28
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, born – 1828

National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, precursor to IBEW, founded – 1891

A total of 154 men die in a coal mine explosion at Marianna, Pa.  Engineer and General Superintendent A.C. Beeson tells the local newspaper he had been in the mine a few minutes before the blast and had found it to be in perfect condition – 1908Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016

Some 400 New York City photoengravers working for the city’s newspapers, supported by 20,000 other newspaper unionists, begin what is to become an 11-day strike, shutting down the papers – 1953

November 29
Clerks, teamsters and building service workers at Boston Stores in Milwaukee strike at the beginning of the Christmas rush. The strike won widespread support—at one point 10,000 pickets jammed the sidewalks around the main store—but ultimately was lost. Workers returned to the job in mid-January with a small pay raise and no union recognition – 1934

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016The SS Daniel J. Morrell, a 603-foot freighter, breaks in two during a strong storm on Lake Huron. Twenty-eight of its 29 crewmen died; survivor Dennis Hale was found the next day, near frozen and floating in a life raft with the bodies of three of his crew mates. He had survived for nearly 40 hours in frigid temperatures wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, a life jacket, and a pea coat – 1966

National Labor Relations Board rules that medical interns can unionize and negotiate wages and hours – 1999

November 30
“Fighting Mary” Eliza McDowell, also known as the “Angel of the Stockyards,” born in Chicago. As a social worker she helped organize the first women’s local of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union in 1902 – 1854

Mother Jones died at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md.; “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!” – 1930

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016(The Autobiography of Mother Jones: Mary Harris Jones—“Mother Jones”—was the most dynamic woman ever to grace the American labor movement. Employers and politicians around the turn of the century called her “the most dangerous woman in America” and rebellious working men and women loved her as they never loved anyone else.
She was an absolutely fearless and tireless advocate for working people, especially coal miners. A founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies—she feared neither soldiers’ guns nor the ruling class’s jails. Here, in her own words, is her story of organizing in steel, railroading, textiles and mining; her crusade against child labor; her fight to organize women; even her involvement in the Mexican revolution.)

More than 12,000 members of the Insurance Agents Union strike in 35 states and Washington, D.C., against the Prudential Insurance Co. – 1951
Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash. – 1999

December 01
The Ford Motor Co. introduces the continuous moving assembly line which can produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes – 1913

Kellogg cereal adopts 6-hour day – 1930

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016African-American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement’s campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South’s “Jim Crow” laws – 1955

United Garment Workers of America merge with United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union – 1994

Metal Polishers, Buffers, Platers & Allied Workers Int’l Union & United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum & Plastics Workers of America merge with Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers – 1996

December 02
A Chicago “slugger,” paid $50 by labor unions for every scab he “discouraged,” described his job in an interview: “Oh, there ain’t nothing to it. I gets my fifty, then I goes out and finds the guy they wanna have slugged, then I gives it to ‘im” – 1911

The U.S. Senate votes 65-22 to condemn Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”  McCarthy was a rabid anti-Communist who falsely accused thousands of Americans, mostly people who supported labor, civil rights and other progressive causes, of being traitors – 1954

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016(A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present: McCarthy’s attack on progressive citizens is just one of many eye-openers revealed in Zinn’s book. If your last serious read of American history was in high school—or even in a standard college course—you’ll want to read this amazing account of America as seen through the eyes of its working people, women and minorities.)

Court documents filed in Boston say Walmart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime – 2009

December 03
Textile strikers win 10-hour day, Fall River, Mass. – 1866

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance setting an 8-hour workday for all city employees – 1867

IWW union Brotherhood of Timber Workers organized – 1910

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016Canada’s Quebec Bridge, spanning the St. Lawrence River, opens to traffic on this day after the deaths of 89 construction workers in the course of the job.  A flawed design was blamed for a 1907 collapse that killed 75; another 13 died in 1916 when a hoisting device failed as the central span was being lifted – 1919

General strike begins in Oakland, Calif., started by female department store clerks – 1946

The express passenger train “20th Century Limited” ends more than 60 years of service when it takes its last run from New York City to Chicago – 1967

Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016Some 5,000 union construction workers in Oahu, Hawaii, march to City Hall in protest of a proposed construction moratorium by the city council – 1976

At least four thousand people die, and as many as 20,000, in one of the largest industrial disasters on record.  It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant.  The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues – 1984

Arrests began today in Middleton, N.J., of teachers striking in violation of a no-strike law. Ultimately 228 educators were jailed for up to seven days before they were released following the Middleton Township Education Association’s agreement to take the dispute to mediation – 2001

December 04
President Roosevelt announces the end of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), concluding the Today in labor history for the week of November 28, 2016four-year run of one of the American government’s most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains – 1943

UAW President Walter Reuther elected president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations – 1952

Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers’ grape boycott – 1970

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

UNIONS MATTER: The Real Purpose Behind The Charter School Movement & The Ethical Opposition

img_4941-copyBy Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips for Unions Matter

As charter schools expand and seek to gain more ground, so has the opposition to that movement been increasing throughout the country. From California to Massachusetts, there is intense questioning both of the educational effectiveness of these schools and how they are using public funds. For example, as reported in The Washington Post on October 15th, the NAACP “ratified a resolution calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charters.” Summarizing what is behind the NAACP’s move, the article states:

“Opponents say that too many charter schools promote racial segregation, are poorly run and siphon public funds from traditional public schools, which educate the neediest students.”

And on election day, the people of Massachusetts—the state in which public education in America began— overwhelmingly voted NO on a ballot initiative to increase the number of charter schools in their state.

The Boston Globe writes:

“The vote is a major victory for teachers unions and civil rights organizations, which argued that charters are diverting too much money and attention from traditional public schools that serve the overwhelming majority of students.”

And they quoted Barbara Madeloni, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association who stated:

“It’s really clear from the results of this election that people are interested in public education and value [it]….There should be no conversation about expanding charters,” she added, until the Legislature moves to “fully fund our public schools.”

As proud UFT members and New York City public school teachers who use the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method in our classrooms, we are sure that: 1) EVERY child has a right to the best education possible; and 2) Education should never be for the profit of any individual or corporation. Eli Siegel, the great philosopher and founder of Aesthetic Realism, presented the most important question concerning economics: “What does a person deserve by being a person?” This question has everything to do with the right of children to be educated.

Now, more than ever, we feel it is vital for Americans to know what Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, explains with enormous clarity and passion about the purpose of charter schools. In an issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, titled “For Education to Succeed,” she writes:

“The push for charter schools is an attempt to make public education exist to supply profit to various individuals. An August 21st New York Times article described charter schools as “financed by taxpayers but privately run” – which means run for the profit of those “private” persons. The charter school movement is a fraud, and depends on the collusion of politicians who withhold needed funds from public schools so as to make those public schools as miserable and unattractive as possible. Charter schools turn teachers, as well as children, into fodder for someone’s private profit—because the vast majority of charter schools do not have unions and therefore do not have the justice to working people that unions make possible. The campaign for charter schools is one of the cleverest and cruelest instances of propaganda in US history. Part of the propaganda is the creation of “success rates” by simply expelling students who don’t succeed.”

And Ms. Reiss continues:

“The fundamental ugliness is having schools be based, not on that beautiful thing, the need and right of a child to learn, but on whether those children can put money in the pockets of some wealthy individuals.”

Also in this same issue you can read a tremendously important paper by New York City high school social studies teacher Christopher Balchin, who tells of the success of the Aesthetic Realism teaching method. We’re grateful to have seen in our own classrooms—from elementary school to middle school, from New York’s Lower East Side to Harlem and beyond—that this teaching method can meet the hopes of students and educators everywhere.

Our children represent our nation’s future. In answer to Eli Siegel’s kind urgent question, “What does a person deserve by being a person?,” they deserve the best public education possible. As parents and educators, we see it as our responsibility to protect and preserve this fundamental right!

Barbara McClung is a science teacher in a NYC elementary school and was a Chapter leader for seven years.

Lauren Phillips is a New York City middle school Humanities teacher.

Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016

November 07 Some 1,300 building trades workers in eastern Massachusetts participated in a general strike on all military work in the area to protest the use of open-shop (a worksite in which union membership is not required as a condition of employment) builders. The strike held on for a week in the face of threats from the U.S. War Department - 1917 (In this expanded edition of Strike! you can read about labor-management conflicts that have occurred over the past 140 years. Here you’ll learn much about workers’ struggle to win a degree of justice, from the workers’ point of view. Brecher also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s.) President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike - 1959 Lemuel Ricketts Boulware dies in Delray Beach, Fla., at age 95. As a GE vice president in the 1950s he created the policy known as Boulwarism, in which management decides what is "fair" and refuses to budge on anything during contract negotiations. IUE President Paul Jennings described the policy as "telling the workers what they are entitled to and then trying to shove it down their throats." - 1990 November 08Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016 20,000 workers, Black and White, stage general strike in New Orleans, demanding union recognition and hour and wage gains - 1892 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create four million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America) - 1933 In one of the U.S. auto industry’s more embarrassing missteps over the last half-century, the Ford Motor Co. decides to name its new model the Edsel, after Henry Ford’s only son. Ford executives rejected 18,000 other potential names - 1956 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016November 09 Twenty people, including at least nine firefighters, are killed in Boston’s worst fire. It consumed 65 downtown acres and 776 buildings over 12 hours – 1872 Creation of Committee for Industrial Organization announced by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (in 1938 they formally break with the AFL and become the Congress of Industrial Organizations). The eight want more focus on organizing mass production industry workers - 1935 Philip Murray, first president of the United Steelworkers Organizing Committee, first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations for 12 years following the retirement of John L. Lewis, dies at age 66 - 1952 November 10Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016 Sit-down strike begins at Austin, Minn., Hormel plant with the help of a Wobbly organizer, leading to the creation of the Independent Union of All Workers. Labor historians believe this may have been the first sit-down strike of the 1930s. Workers held the plant for three days, demanding a wage increase. Some 400 men crashed through the plant entrance and chased out nonunion workers. One group rushed through the doors of a conference room where Jay Hormel and five company executives were meeting and declared: “We’re taking possession. So move out.” Within four days the company agreed to binding arbitration - 1933 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016The ship Edmund Fitzgerald—the biggest carrier on the Great Lakes—and crew of 29 are lost in a storm on Lake Superior while carrying ore from Superior, Wisc., to Detroit. The cause of the sinking was never established - 1975 Tile, Marble, Terrazzo Finishers, Shop Workers & Granite Cutters Int’l Union merges into United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners - 1988 November 11Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016 Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally - 1887 A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged: local officials listed his death as a suicide - 1919 A total of 57 crewmen on three freighters die over a 3-day period when their ships sink during a huge storm over Lake Michigan - 1940 November 12 Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants - 1954 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016(Mobilizing Against Inequality: 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.) “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers—half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars - 1996 November 13 A total of 259 miners died in the underground Cherry Mine fire. As a result of the disaster, Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016Illinois established stricter safety regulations and in 1911, the basis for the state’s Workers Compensation Act was passed - 1909 A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia in Butte, Mont. - 1914 The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, N.J. Thirteen workers died over its 7-year-long construction - 1927 GM workers’ post-war strike for higher wages closes 96 plants - 1945 Today in labor history for the week of November 7, 2016Striking typesetters at the Green Bay, Wisc., Press Gazette start a competing newspaper, The Green Bay Daily News. With financial support from a local businessman who hated the Press Gazette, the union ran the paper for four years before their angel died and it was sold to another publisher. The Gannett chain ultimately bought the paper, only to fold it in 2005 - 1972 Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union activist Karen Silkwood is killed in a suspicious car crash on her way to deliver documents to a newspaper reporter during a safety investigation of her Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma - 1974

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016

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

After 14 years of labor by 400 stone masons, the Mt. Rushmore sculpture is completed in Keystone, S.D.Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016– 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 – 1835

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016(Strikes Around the World: Are strikes going out of fashion or are they an inevitable feature of working life? This is a longstanding debate. The much-proclaimed ‘withering away of the strike’ in the 1950s was quickly overturned by the ‘resurgence of class conflict’ in the late 1960s and 1970s. The period since then has been characterized as one of ‘labor quiescence’. Commentators again predict the strike’s demise, at least in the former heartlands of capitalism.)

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

Malbone tunnel disaster in New York City; inexperienced scab motorman crashes five-car train during Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016strike, 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 for opposing World War I – 1920

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016President 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 – 1983
(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, chauffeured Princeton Professor Albert Einstein around town – 1989
Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016
November 03
Striking milk drivers dump thousands of gallons of milk on New York City streets – 1921

Some 5,000 Philadelphia-area public transit workers begin what was to be a 6-day strike centered on wages and pension benefits – 2009

November 04
Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016Populist humorist Will Rogers was born on this day near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” – 1879

Some 3,000 dairy farmers demonstrate in Neillsville, Wisc., ultimately leading to the freeing of jailed leaders of a milk strike over low prices set by large dairy plants. Tons of fresh milk were dumped on public roads, trains carrying milk were stopped, some cheese plants were bombed during the fight – 1933

After a struggle lasting more than two years, 6,000 Steelworkers members at Bridgestone/Firestone win a settlement in which strikers displaced by scabs got their original jobs back. The fight started when management demanded that the workers accept 12-hour shifts – 1996

November 05Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born – 1855

Everett, Wash., massacre, at least seven Wobblies killed, 50 wounded and an indeterminate number missing – 1916

Some 12,000 television and movie writers begin what was to become a 3-month strike against producers over demands for an increase in pay for movies and television shows released on DVD and for a bigger share of the revenue from work delivered over the Internet – 2007

Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016(How familiar do these phrases ring? Unions are responsible for 
budget deficits; they’ve outlived their usefulness; their members are overpaid and enjoy cushy benefits. The only way to save the American economy, many say, is to weaken the labor movement, strip workers of collective bargaining rights, and champion private industry. In They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions, longtime labor activist and educator Bill Fletcher Jr. makes sense of this debate as he unpacks the 21 myths most often cited by anti-union propagandists.)

November 06Today in labor history for the week of October 31, 2016
French transport worker and socialist Eugene Pottier dies in Paris at age 71. In 1871 he authored “L’Internationale,” the anthem to international labor solidarity, the first verse of which begins: “Stand up, damned of the Earth; Stand up, prisoners of starvation” – 1887

A coal mine explosion in Spangler, Pa., kills 79. The mine had been rated gaseous in 1918, but at the insistence of new operators it was rated as non-gaseous even though miners had been burned by gas on at least four occasions – 1922

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

NH Building Trades Announces Endorsement of Colin Van Ostern for Governor

Colin Van Ostern for Governor campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.  Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

Colin Van Ostern for Governor campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.
Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

Manchester – The New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council announced their endorsement of Colin Van Ostern for Governor today.                                                

“Colin is the leader working men and women need in the Governor’s office,” said Building Trades President Steve Burk. “We know Colin will fight to raise wages for working families and make sure our growing economy benefits all Granite State workers. Colin understands that union apprenticeship training programs are helping strengthen our workforce, and that union health insurance and pensions plans are helping give our citizens a stable foundation for success. The bottom line is, New Hampshire construction workers – both union and non-union – will do well with Colin as our Governor because Colin will make sure we rebuild our roads and bridges, bring passenger rail to New Hampshire, and finally pass a prevailing wage law to make sure our taxpayer dollars stay in the local economy and in the pockets of local workers. That’s why the New Hampshire Building Trades are all-in for Colin.”

“I’m honored to earn the support of the hardworking men and women of the New Hampshire Building Trades,” said Colin Van Ostern, Democratic nominee for Governor. “We need to do more to build an economy where anyone who works hard can get a good paying job and we’ll do that by investing in job and skills training, raising New Hampshire’s lowest in the nation minimum wage, and fighting back against attempts to make New Hampshire a so-called ‘right to work’ state, stripping hardworking people of the right to collectively bargain. New Hampshire needs a Governor who will stand up for people, not for partisan special interests.”

The New Hampshire Building Trades is an organization of 16 New Hampshire labor unions, representing more than 2,000 New Hampshire workers in the construction industry.

 

Today in labor history for the week of October 17, 2016


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

Today in labor history for the week of October 17, 2016
(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 17, 2016New 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 17, 2016
(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 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 17, 2016city 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

Today in labor history for the week of October 17, 2016
(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

Today in labor history for the week of October 17, 2016Presidential 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 17, 2016
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 17, 2016October 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
Today in labor history for the week of October 17, 2016
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

Today in labor history for the week of October 10, 2016

This Week in Labor History 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 Today in labor history for the week of October 10, 2016also 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 10, 2016antagonism 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 10, 2016The 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 10, 2016 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 Today in labor history for the week of October 10, 2016October 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
—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Kentucky Vet And UAW Member: Trump ‘Does Not Have A Clue’

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

todd-dunnGOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump evidently thinks he’s sewn up the vote of guys like Todd Dunn.

Dunn is a white, blue-collar veteran who earned multiple medals while serving in the First Gulf War.

He’s for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent.

“In the military, we said you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” remembered Dunn, 46, from Louisville. “I would not want people like him around me for the simple fact that he is not credible.”

Dunn has been president of United Auto Workers Local 862 for almost six years. He was a 19-year-old Army military police specialist in Kuwait in 1991.

Dunn said Clinton, a former secretary of state and senator, has the temperament and experience to be president. Trump doesn’t, he added.

Trump, a wealthy business owner, has never held public office.

“Trump puts women down; he puts minorities down– he really doesn’t respect people,” said Dunn, who is also president of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council.

Trump claims he values veterans most of all. Dunn doesn’t buy it. “Here is a man who says not paying taxes is smart. Taxes support our country.”

Dunn says the fact that taxes fund the U.S. military and federal programs that aid veterans is evidently lost on Trump.

“I paid my fair share of taxes before I joined the United States Army, went to Desert Storm and nearly died in Desert Storm,” said Dunn. “I came home and continued to pay my fair share of taxes.

“Not paying his taxes might make him smart, but it doesn’t make him a man who stands by our veterans. He may be a patriot in his own mind, but he doesn’t show it in his actions.”

Dunn’s missions in the First Gulf War included guarding a vital supply road and protecting Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, commander of coalition forces that drove dictator Saddam Hussein’s invading Iraqi army out of Kuwait.

Dunn worries about Trump’s penchant for provocative, “off-the-cuff” and “knee-jerk” comments.

Trump, for example, threatened to shoot “out of the water” Iranian sailors if they made rude gestures toward U.S. Navy warships.

Trump, 70, is not a veteran. He used deferments, legally, to avoid the draft and possible combat in Vietnam.

“He doesn’t have a clue, which is obvious,” Dunn said. He doesn’t know the feeling of wondering if this is the last time he will see his family.”

Dunn came home to his loved ones, got married and got a job at Ford in the Falls City. He has two sons, one of whom also works for Ford. (Members of Local 862 work at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant.) 

“Trump,” he said, “sits in an office in his tall, shiny building, knowing he has taken advantage of his country and the people who work for him. Does he have any remorse?”

Dunn’s service in Kuwait is featured in We Don’t Quit!: Stories of UAW Global Solidarity, a 2015 book by Don Stillman. The book tells how the UAW and its members are part of the worldwide struggle for workers’ rights.

Dunn said he had had never witnessed death before he arrived in Kuwait.

“First and foremost, American soldiers like me were there to liberate Kuwait,” he told Stillman.

“We were dealing with atrocities and torture by Saddam’s guys of the Kuwaiti people. I’ll never forget the small children that would climb on our vehicles—they were hungry, and there we were.

“We gave the kids food and liberty. There was a lot of American sacrifice. We lost American soldiers on foreign soil fighting for democracy.”

 

Western Kentucky Steelworker says Trump’s steel deal is more proof that ‘he’s just selling snake oil’

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump (Jamelle Bouie FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Jamelle Bouie FLIKR)

Steelworker Jeff Wiggins of Reidland, Ky., isn’t surprised at the Newsweek story that says Donald Trump used Chinese steel and aluminum instead of American-made metal in at least two of his last three building projects.

“Not at all,” said Wiggins, 55, president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City, Ky. “Trump is a two-faced, lying snake in the grass. How’s he going to make America great again when he’s using Chinese steel and Chinese aluminum to build his buildings?”

Wiggins’ disdain for Trump is also personal. The Gerdau Ameristeel plant where he’s worked for 33 years is slated to close next month, leaving more than 100 union members jobless.

The company is idling the mill because “the Chinese are flooding the market with cheap steel, and people like Donald Trump are buying it,” Wiggins said.

According to Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.”   

Before Eichenwald’s article was published, Trump, at a Pennsylvania rally, promised, “We are going to protect our steel workers. We can’t let China take advantage of us any more.”

Trump predicted, “Pennsylvania steel will build this country like it built the Empire State Building many years ago. And Pennsylvania steel and the incredible steel workers will send new skyscrapers into the clouds.”

Eichenwald also wrote that “Plenty of blue-collar workers believe that, as president, Donald Trump would be ready to fight off U.S. trade adversaries and reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing industries through his commitment to the Rust Belt. What they likely don’t know is that Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive untold millions of dollars from four key electoral swing states and instead directing it to China—the country whose trade practices have helped decimate the once-powerful industrial center of the United States.”

Wiggins says he knows Trump has been shafting American workers for years. Also president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, he points out that clothing and many other products that Trump sells stateside are made in China and other low-wage countries.

“Why doesn’t he bring those jobs back? He’s just selling snake oil, and people are buying it.

 “He’s a guy who makes money off other people–tells them lies. How’s he going to bring manufacturing back when he’s buying stuff from over there? He’s going to do whatever is cheapest for him where he can make the most money. He doesn’t care about American jobs.”    

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