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 following 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
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
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
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
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
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
(Back in 1899 workers were trained to help other workers. Education for Changing Unions is for those looking for new and better ways to educate workers and communities about unions and the principles for which they stand. It is filled with spirited new ideas, practical exercises and issues under debate. It’s written in a clear and accessible style that’s designed to stimulate working people and teachers in many settings and locations.)
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 hospital workers. 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
After eight years and at least 1,000 worker deaths—mostly Irish immigrants—the 350-mile Erie Canal opens, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop
Air France freight and other workers go on strike when the company announces plans to cut 4,000 jobs and reduce bonuses. The strike not only forced the government to change its mind about the layoffs, but also led to the ouster of the airline’s chairman.
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Manchester – This evening Senator Jeanne Shaheen campaigned with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie, and more than a hundred supporters from the labor community at an event in Hooksett, where the three discussed how Shaheen’s record standing up for New Hampshire working families contrasts with Scott Brown’s record of supporting out-of state corporate interests and companies that outsource jobs.
“When it comes to jobs and the economy, Scott Brown and I have two very different records,” said Shaheen. “I believe we need to increase the minimum wage because it’s what’s right for New Hampshire families, but Scott Brown opposes the increase. I know we need to once and for all end giveaways for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that ship jobs overseas, but time and again Scott Brown voted to protect those special breaks. And I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support New Hampshire small businesses across our state, but Scott Brown voted against them when he was representing Massachusetts. The difference is clear: I have never stopped fighting to make a difference for the families and businesses that make up the backbone of our state’s economy, and I never will.”
“Jeanne Shaheen has a long record working to create good paying jobs and has always fought to ensure hardworking people get the fair shot they deserve,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “When he was Massachusetts’ senator, Scott Brown voted against unemployment benefits. He voted to water down Wall Street reform. And he helped big corporations ship American jobs overseas. When you see his record up close like we did, you see he’s not someone who has spent his career standing up for working people. Jeanne Shaheen has.”
“Outsourcing is the type of business practice that lines the pockets of millionaires like Scott Brown but is devastating for communities here in New Hampshire,” said Mark Mackenzie, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “When jobs are shipped overseas, families suffer, unemployment increases, and communities are decimated. The fact that Scott Brown personally profited from this practice is wrong, and we need to reelect our Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, who we know will always stand up for working families here in New Hampshire.”
Jeanne Shaheen has spent her career fighting for good paying jobs here in New Hampshire. Shaheen led the fight to pass the bipartisan Small Business Jobs Act, which has helped countless New Hampshire businesses expand and create new jobs. Shaheen also cosponsored the bipartisan Travel Promotion Act, which invested in New Hampshire’s tourism industry, the second largest in the state, supporting nearly 70,000 jobs. Shaheen is currently fighting to increase the minimum wage because she believes no one in New Hampshire should have to work full time and still live in poverty.
Meanwhile, Scott Brown opposes increasing the minimum wage and voted to support tax loopholes for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that offshore American jobs. Since losing in Massachusetts, Brown has made over a quarter million dollars as a board member of a company that touts outsourcing American jobs to China and Mexico as part of its business plan. Legal documents dated just two days before Brown entered the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire bear his signature endorsing the company’s outsourcing strategy.