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Berry Craig: ‘An injury to one is the concern of all’

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Knights_of_labor_seal_standardI often think about the old Knights of Labor on Labor Day.

Okay, I’m a retired history teacher who still packs a union card.

The Knights “tried to teach the American wage-earner that he was a wage-earner first and a bricklayer, carpenter, miner, shoemaker, after; that he was a wage-earner first and a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, white, black, Democrat, Republican, after,” historian Norman Ware wrote.

The Knights stressed that whatever else divided working people, work itself was what they all had in common. Work was, by far, the most important factor in their lives. Thus, workers should unite as members of the working class, the Knights urged.

Active in the late 19th-century, the Knights were among the pioneers in our union movement. There were even Knights in western Kentucky, where I was born, reared and still live. The Fulton group published a newspaper called The Toiler.

The paper and the Knights are long gone.

But the union’s basic principle is still relevant: Working people, no matter what jobs we have, are wage earners first. “An injury to one is the concern of all,” was the Knights’ famous motto. It still rings true.

Anyway, I spent twenty-four years as a teacher. I was a newspaper reporter for almost 13 years before that.

But I was always a wage-earner and a worker first. I belong to the working class just like a factory worker, construction worker, dock worker, miner, truck driver, carpenter, painter, plumber, electrician, firefighter, garbage collector, grocery clerk, secretary and every other worker. We all belong to the working class.

History is plain about what has most benefitted the working class: unions and New Deal-style government action on our behalf. A big part of the New Deal guaranteed our right to organize unions and bargain collectively for better wages, hours, working conditions and benefits.

My maternal grandparents, Susie and Diehl Vest of Mayfield, my hometown, remembered how the union and the New Deal made their lives better.

“Bobo” belonged to the Almagamated Clothing Workers at the old Merit Clothing Co. “Grandadden” worked out of Paducah Painters Local 500, which is still around.

The Vests voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt all four times he ran. (FDR and Abraham Lincoln tie as their grandson’s favorite presidents.)

Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was one of my favorite politicians. Molly Ivins was one of my favorite newspaper columnists. Both of them also knew what helped the working class the most.

“America is a living testimonial to what free men and women, organized in free democratic trade unions, can do to make a better life,” said HHH, whom I voted for in 1968, the first year I was eligible to cast a ballot.

Said Ivins: “Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers (sadly, that percentage has shrunk as so many of our good union jobs have been shipped out of the country) are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Happy Labor Day!

Mark Connolly Takes A Bold Stand For Union Workers At WMUR

Last week we posted a story about how WMUR/ Hearst Television is refusing to negotiate with the members of IBEW local 1228 and are refusing add them to the pension system that other station workers already participate in. This contract negotiation dispute resulted in WMUR’s sponsorship of the NH Democratic Presidential debate. The NH Democratic Party reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the WMUR workers, by continuing to boycott WMUR sponsored debates.

“We told WMUR Station Management earlier this year that New Hampshire Democratic candidates would not participate in WMUR sponsored debates as long as the negotiations between the Union Production workers and Hearst were not resolved.” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We have not changed our position and the station knows it.”

This week, WMUR scheduled a Democratic Gubernatorial debate for next Tuesday night.  IBEW Local 1228 members are planning to hold an informational picket at WMUR’s Manchester studio the night of the debate.

Today, Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor, released the following statement regarding the scheduled gubernatorial debate hosted by WMUR Manchester and its parent company, Hearst Television, Inc. 

“Though I appreciate the opportunity provided by WMUR/Hearst, I strongly believe that each and every worker in the Granite State deserves a fair wage and benefits, and I stand with the dedicated workers of IBEW Local 1228.

“These workers are committed to delivering important information to the people of New Hampshire on a daily basis, and I strongly support their right to a collectively bargained contract. 

“Without an agreement in place between WMUR/Hearst and Local 1228, I will not cross the picket line to participate in next week’s debate. I encourage the other candidates to take the same stand.”

After receiving the news, Fletcher Fischer, Business Agent for the IBEW 1228 who represents the Union Production Department at WMUR who are struggling for their first contract said that they “greatly appreciated” the statement of support from Connolly.

“We are hopeful that all New Hampshire candidates running for Governor and any other office feel the same and show support to the working men and women who don’t deserve this type of Corporate attack. All they did was exercise their American right to form a Union and did not expect this type of retribution from the Company they have served so loyally for years,” Fischer added.

Pat Devney, campaign manager for Colin Van Ostern also released a statement in support of the IBEW workers but did not state whether Van Ostern would also skip the debate.

“With a full seven days between now and the debate, we encourage WMUR/Hearst management to sit down with employees and make meaningful and long-overdue progress toward a fair employment agreement.”

“We will continue to monitor negotiations and sincerely hope that progress can be made toward an agreement so that voters will have the opportunity to hear from all candidates about how we can keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

At the time of publication Steve Marchand had not responded to my request for a statement.

Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO Praises Amtrak’s Purchase Of New High Speed Trains

Transportation Trade Department LogoVice President Biden’s Announcement on Amtrak Procurement
Boosts U.S. Transportation Manufacturing Job Creation

Washington, D.C. — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement following the announcement in Wilmington, DE by Vice President Joe Biden on the winning bidder in Amtrak’s high speed train purchase:

“The U.S. economy and working people scored a victory today following the announcement by Vice President Joe Biden that Amtrak will be purchasing a new high speed train fleet from Alstom, which will manufacture the trains at its Hornell, New York facility employing members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

“For many years we have advocated for rail and transit procurement policies that reward high-road employers whose manufacturing business models support middle class job creation here at home. For too long federal, state and local policies squandered billions of dollars in rail and transit fleet purchases by only requiring the bare minimum when it came to domestic content and expanding U.S. transportation manufacturing.

“Fortunately, Amtrak has taken an important step in embracing a new vision for how public dollars are spent when rail and transit systems upgrade their fleets. In its request for proposal (RFP) in July of 2014, Amtrak included a groundbreaking requirement that bidders submit a U.S. Employment Plan detailing their plans to create U.S. jobs and opportunities for disadvantaged American workers including veterans.

“Amtrak’s commitment to investing in American manufacturing and good-paying jobs marks a welcome change of direction by recognizing the advantages of best value contracts. This decision also reflects years of persistence by the Obama Administration to prioritize domestic manufacturing in the transportation sector. The President, Vice President and Transportation Secretary Foxx have consistently worked to promote stronger Buy America standards and tighten lax federal waiver rules that for decades mainstreamed excessive foreign outsourcing. 

“I want to congratulate the Jobs to Move American Coalition (JMA), which developed the U.S. Employment Plan and has been a leader in implementing smarter rail and transit procurement policies throughout the country. TTD is proud to be a member of JMA, and I believe that today’s announcement helps prove what we know to be true: public investments in rail and transit can and should be a major economic driver that create good jobs and launch a renaissance in transportation manufacturing.”

Local Massachusetts Union Shirt Manufacturer Featured In New Clinton Campaign Ad

New England Shirt Company ShirtIn New Ad, U.S. Shirtmaker Criticizes
Trump for Outsourcing Jobs, Making Products Overseas

Small Business Owner: ‘Trump Says He’ll Make America Great Again
While He’s Taking the Shirts Right Off Our Backs’

new Hillary for America television ad set to air this week features a Massachusetts shirt manufacturer who employs more than 60 people criticizing Donald Trump for outsourcing jobs to make his products, including shirts, abroad. In the ad, Robert Kidder, the owner of New England Shirt Company in Fall River, says, “This factory has been here since 1883. We have over 60 people here making shirts labeled ‘Made in America,’ but Donald Trump’s brand of shirts come from China, his suits from Mexico, his coats from India.”

Going back to the colonial era, Fall River, Mass., has been central to America’s textile industry, and the New England Shirt Company remains the oldest operating ready-to-wear shirt manufacturer in America. Not only has New England Shirt Company been making shirts in Fall River for over 130 years, but they are also proudly union. Workers are represented by The New England Joint Board, a region group of UNITE HERE locals and “is one of the largest unions in the region representing manufacturing workers.”

Textile manufacturing unions in New England were some of the first and strongest unions in the country in the late 1800 and early 1900s.  Women and children slaved in the mills from Manchester, New Hampshire, through Lawrence, Massachusetts, through Lowell, Massachusetts, and all the way down to New York City.

Unions like the The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) fought for workplace safety, shorter workdays, and for two full days of rest a week.  Workers banded together and pushed the Massachusetts legislature to pass strong labor like and to be the first to pass child labor laws that prevented children from working in the mills.  Laws that were later passed nationally as part of the National Labor Relations Act.

In 1976,  The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America merged to form UNITE who in 1996 merged with HERE, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, becoming UNITE HERE.

The ad, ‘Shirts,’ joins a previously released ad, “Some Place,” in spotlighting Trump’s long history of making Trump-branded products outside of America as part of a concerted effort over the past month to contrast Trump’s hypocritical business record with Hillary Clinton’s agenda to make the economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. The new ad follows Clinton’s announcement Tuesday of new plans to jumpstart small business startups and strengthen small business growthKidder, the small business owner, closes the new ad, “Donald Trump says he’ll ‘make America great again’ while he’s taking the shirts right off our backs.”

Watch ‘Shirts’

The 30-second ad is a part of and ad buy in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Clinton has pledged make the largest investment in job creation since World War II in her first 100 days in office and has proposed a comprehensive “Make It In America” strategy to boost U.S. manufacturing and crack down on corporations that ship jobs overseas.

Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015

 
August 22 Five flight attendants form the Air Line Stewardesses Association, the first labor union representing flight attendants. They were reacting to an industry in which women were forced to retire at the age of 32, remain single, and adhere to strict weight, height and appearance requirements. The association later became the Association of Flight Attendants, now a division of the Communications Workers of America - 1945 Int’l Broom & Whisk Makers Union disbands - 1963 Joyce Miller, a vice president of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers, becomes first female member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council - 1980 The Kerr-McGee Corp. agrees to pay the estate of the late Karen Silkwood $1.38 million, settling a 10-year-old nuclear contamination lawsuit.  She was a union activist who died in 1974 under suspicious circumstances on her way to talk to a reporter about safety concerns at her plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma - 1986 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015(The Killing of Karen Silkwood: This is an updated edition of the groundbreaking book about the death of union activist Karen Silkwood, an employee of a plutonium processing plant, who was killed in a mysterious car crash on her way to deliver important documents to a newspaper reporter in 1974. Silkwood’s death at age 28 was highly suspicious: she had been working on health and safety issues at the plant, and a lot of people stood to benefit by her death.) Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1988 August 23 The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies to capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism. The New York Herald characterized the Commission's president, Frank P. Walsh, as "a Mother Jones in trousers" - 1912 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world - 1927 Seven merchant seamen crewing the SS Baton Rouge Victory lost their lives when the ship was sunk by Viet Cong action en route to Saigon - 1966 Farm Workers Organizing Committee (to later become United Farm Workers of America) granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1966 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015(Farmworker’s Friend: The story of Cesar Chavez is a thoughtful and moving book about the inspiring life of American hero Cesar Chavez, founder and long-time leader of the United Farm Workers of America. This sympathetic portrayal of Chavez and his life’s work begins with his childhood, starting from the time his family’s store in Arizona failed during the Great Depression and his entire family was forced into the fields to harvest vegetables for a few cents an hour. It traces his growth as a man and as a leader, talking of his pacifism, his courage in the face of great threats and greater odds, his leadership and his view that the union was more than just a union, it was a community—una causa.)
Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015August 24 The Gatling Gun Co.—manufacturers of an early machine gun—writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the "recent riotous disturbances around the country." Says the company: "Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling ... can clear a street or block and keep it clear" - 1877 United Farm Workers Union begins lettuce strike - 1970 August 25Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015 Birth of Allan Pinkerton, whose strike-breaking detectives ("Pinks") gave us the word "fink" - 1819 Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded at a meeting in New York City.  A. Philip Randolph became the union's first organizer - 1925 August 26 Fannie Sellins and Joseph Starzeleski are murdered by coal company guards on a picket line in Brackenridge, Pa. Sellins was a United Mine Workers of America organizer and Starzeleski was a miner - 1919 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015(Sixteen Tons carries the reader down into the dark and dangerous coal mines of the early 1900s, as Italian immigrant Antonio Vacca and his sons encounter cave-ins and fires deep below the earth’s surface.) After three-quarters of the states had ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, women win their long struggle for the vote - 1920 With America in the depths of the Great Depression, the Comptroller of the Currency announces a temporary halt on foreclosures of first mortgages - 1932 In what some may consider one of the many management decisions that was to help cripple the American auto industry over the following decades, Ford Motor Co. produces its first Edsel. Ford dropped the project two years later after losing approximately $350 million - 1957 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015 The Women’s Strike for Equality is staged in cities across the U.S., marking the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, under which women won the right to vote.  A key focus of the strike—in fact, more accurately a series of marches and demonstrations—was equality in the workplace.  An estimated 20,000 women participated, some carrying signs with the iconic slogan, “Don’t Iron While the Strike is Hot.”  Another sign: “Hardhats for Soft Broads” - 1970 More than 1,300 bus drivers on Oahu, Hawaii, begin what is to become a 5-week strike - 2003 Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015August 27 Some 14,000 Chicago teachers who have gone without pay for several months finally collect about $1,400 each - 1934 President Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize all the nation's railroads to prevent a general strike.  The railroads were not returned to their owners until two years later - 1950 August 28 The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—the Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have A Dream" speech march—is held in Washington, D.C., with 250,000 participating.  The AFL-CIO did not endorse the march, but several affiliated unions did – 1963Today in labor history for the week of August 22, 2015 (Martin Luther King, Jr., and the March on Washington: Written for 5 to 8 year-olds, this is a very nice introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, that watershed event in the fight for civil rights. It uses the March as a point of reference as it talks about segregation in America and the battle for equal rights.)   —Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016

August 15
To begin what proved to become one of the world’s longest construction projects, workers lay the foundation stone of Germany’s Cologne Cathedral, built to house the relics of the Three Wise Men.  The job was declared completed in 1880—632 years later – 1248

The Panama Canal opens after 33 years of construction and an estimated 22,000 worker deaths, mostly caused by malaria and yellow fever.  The 51-mile canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – 1914

Populist social commentator Will Rogers killed in a plane crash, Point Barrow, Alaska. One of his many classic lines: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts” – 1935

Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016
(Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!: Did you hear the one about the supervisor and the new employee who bump into each other in a bar?  Maybe, but maybe not.  In either case, you can find it and a couple hundred other great workplace jokes in this new collection, the only one of its kind.  You won’t find working people as the butt of jokes here… it’s more likely to be the boss, the banker, the yes man and the union-busting lawyer.)

President Richard M. Nixon announces a 90-day freeze on wages, prices and rents in an attempt to combat inflation – 1971

Gerry Horgan, chief steward of CWA Local 1103 and NYNEX striker in Valhalla, N.Y., is struck on the picket line by a car driven by the daughter of a plant manager and dies the following day. What was to become a 4-month strike over healthcare benefits was in its second week – 1989

Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016Eight automotive department employees at a Walmart near Ottawa won an arbitrator-imposed contract after voting for UFCW representation, becoming the giant retailer’s only location in North America with a collective bargaining agreement. Two months later the company closed the department. Three years earlier Walmart had closed an entire store on the same day the government announced an arbitrator would impose a contract agreement there – 2008

August 16
George Meany, plumber, founding AFL-CIO president, born in City Island, Bronx. In his official biography, George Meany and His Times, he said he had “never walked a picket line in his life.” He also said he took part in only one strike (against the United States Government to get higher pay for plumbers on welfare jobs). Yet he also firmly said that “You only make progress by fighting for progress.” Meany served as secretary-treasurer of the AFL from 1940 to 1952, succeeded as president of the AFL, and then continued as president of the AFL-CIO following the historic merger in 1955 until retiring in 1979 – 1894
Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016
Homer Martin, early United Auto Workers leader, born in Marion, Ill. – 1902

Congress passes the National Apprenticeship Act, establishing a national advisory committee to research and draft regulations establishing minimum standards for apprenticeship programs. It was later amended to permit the Labor Department to issue regulations protecting the health, safety and general welfare of apprentices, and to encourage the use of contracts in their hiring and employment – 1937

National Agricultural Workers Union merges into Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen – 1960

Int’l Union of Wood, Wire & Metal Lathers merges with United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners – 1979

Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016August 17
IWW War Trials in Chicago, 95 go to prison for up to 20 years – 1918

Bakery & Confectionery Workers Int’l Union of America merges with Tobacco Workers Int’l Union to become Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers – 1978

Year-long Hormel meatpackers’ strike begins in Austin, Minn. – 1985

August 18
Radio station WEVD, named for Eugene V. Debs, goes on the air in New York City, operated by The Forward Association as a memorial to the labor and socialist leader – 1927
(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 Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016heart 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.  Many union activists and labor scholars see Debs as the definitive labor leader.)

Founding of the American Federation of Government Employees, following a decision by the National Federation of Federal Employees (later to become part of the Int’l Association of Machinists) to leave the AFL – 1932

Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016August 19
First edition of IWW Little Red Song Book published – 1909

Some 2,000 United Railroads streetcar service workers and supporters parade down San Francisco’s Market Street in support of pay demands and against the company’s anti-union policies. The strike failed in late November in the face of more than 1,000 strikebreakers, some of them imported from Chicago – 1917

Founding of the Maritime Trades Dept., AFL, to give “workers employed in the maritime industry and its allied trades a voice in shaping national policy” – 1946

Phelps-Dodge copper miners in Morenci and Clifton, Ariz., are confronted by tanks, helicopters, 426 state troopers and 325 National Guardsmen brought in to walk strikebreakers through picket lines in what was to become a failed 3-year fight by the Steelworkers and other unions – 1983
Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016
Some 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians, members of AMFA at Northwest Airlines, strike the carrier over job security, pay cuts and work rule changes. The 14-month strike was to fail, with most union jobs lost to replacements and outside contractors – 2005

August 20
The Great Fire of 1910, a wildfire that consumed about 3 million acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana—an area about the size of Connecticut—claimed the lives of 78 firefighters over two days.  It is believed to be the largest, although not deadliest, fire in U.S. history – 1910

Today in labor history for the week of August 15, 2016Deranged relief postal service carrier Patrick “Crazy Pat” Henry Sherrill shoots and kills 14 coworkers, and wounds another six, before killing himself at an Edmond, Okla., postal facility.  Supervisors had ignored warning signs of Sherrill’s instability, investigators later found; the shootings came a day after he had been reprimanded for poor work.  The incident inspired the objectionable term “going postal” – 1986

August 21
Slave revolt led by Nat Turner begins in Southampton County, Va. – 1831

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Details For This Year’s Bread and Roses Heritage Festival On Labor Day

Bread and Roses StrikersJoin The Fun At The Annual Bread And Roses Labor Day Festival

The 32nd Bread and Roses Heritage Festival takes place on Labor Day, September 5, 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., on the Common in Lawrence, MA, a free, one-day ‘open air’ celebration for the whole family. It is the only Labor Day festival on the East Coast and commemorates the important contributions the Lawrence strikers of 1912 made to the history of the labor movement.

This year, we have again great participation by Labor:

  • Opening the Festival, at 11:30 a.m.: Ceremony at the Strikers’ Monument across from City Hall, sponsored by the Strikers’ Monument Committee
  • Labor representatives at Lawrence History Live, our popular speakers’ tent, presenting on current issues and job actions (SEIU, UNITE HERE, Lawrence Teachers union/MVCLC, National Association of Letter Carriers, Jobs with Justice, MassCosh, etc.)
  • Dexter Arnold and Jim Beauchesne speaking on workers’ access to public spaces and the backlash to the 1912 Strike
  • A Community Corner with Soap Box, in the tradition of the free speech activism of the Wobblies and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.Everyone is invited to address Festival visitors.

BRead and RosesHeadline Performers

Also performing:

Take a Trolley Tours of historic Lawrence.  Be sure to bring the kids we have lots of children’s activities!

Join us!

             www.breadandrosesheritage.org

     Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/BRHFestival and Twitter: @1912BreadRoses

                         Bread and Rose Heritage Committee, P.O. Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842

Tel. 978-309-9740

Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016

August 01
After organizing a strike of metal miners against the Anaconda Company, Wobbly organizer Frank Little is dragged by six masked men from his Butte, Mont., hotel room and hung from the Milwaukee Railroad trestle. Years later writer Dashiell Hammett would recall his early days as a Pinkerton detective agency operative and recount how a mine company representative offered him $5,000 to kill Little. Hammett says he quit the business that night – 1917

Sid Hatfield, police chief of Matewan, W. Va., a longtime supporter of the United Mine Workers union, is murdered by company goons. This soon led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, a labor uprising also referred to as the Red Neck War – 1921

Police in Hilo, Hawaii, open fire on 200 demonstrators supporting striking waterfront workers. The attack Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016became known as “the Hilo Massacre” – 1938

A 17-day, company-instigated wildcat strike in Philadelphia tries to bar eight African-American trolley operators from working. Transport Workers Union members stay on the job in support of the men – 1944

Government & Civic Employees Organizing Committee merges into State, County & Municipal Employees – 1956

Window Glass Cutters League of America merges with Glass Bottle Blowers – 1975

Ten-month strike against Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel wins agreement guaranteeing defined-benefit pensions for 4,500 Steelworkers – 1997
Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016(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. The author 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. A new chapter, “Beyond One-Sided Class War,” looks at how modern protest movements, such as the Battle of Seattle and Occupy Wall Street, were ignited and considers the similarities between these challenges to authority and those of labor’s past.)

California School Employees Association affiliates with AFL-CIO – 2001

August 02Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016
The first General Strike in Canadian history is held in Vancouver, organized as a 1-day political protest against the killing of draft evader and labor activist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, who had called for a general strike in the event that any worker was drafted against his will – 1918

Hatch Act is passed, limiting political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government – 1939

Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016August 03
Uriah Smith Stephens born in Cape May, N.J.  A tailor by trade, in 1869 he led nine Philadelphia garment workers to found the Knights of Labor – 1821

Fighting breaks out when sheriff’s deputies attempt to arrest Wobbly leader Richie “Blackie” Ford as he addressed striking field workers at the Durst Ranch in Wheatland, Calif.  Four persons died, including the local district attorney, a deputy and two workers.  Despite the lack of evidence against them, Ford and another strike leader were found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury that included eight farmers – 1913

Florence Reece dies in Knoxville, Tenn., at 86. She was a Mine Workers union activist and author of Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016Which Side Are You On?, written after her home was ransacked by Harlan County sheriff J.H. Blair and his thugs during a 1931 strike – 1986

Some 15,000 air traffic controllers strike. President Reagan threatens to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they “have forfeited their jobs” if they do not. Most stay out, and are fired August 5 – 1981

Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016August 04
The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers is formed. It partnered with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, CIO in 1935; both organizations disbanded in 1942 to form the new United Steelworkers – 1876

An estimated 15,000 silk workers strike in Paterson, N.J., for 44-hour week – 1919

Nearly 185,000 Teamsters begin what is to become a successful 15-day strike at United Parcel Service over excessive use of part-timers – 1997

August 05Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016
Using clubs, police rout 1,500 jobless men who had stormed the plant of the Fruit Growers Express Co. in Indiana Harbor, Ind., demanding jobs – 1931

Thirteen firefighters, including 12 smokejumpers who parachuted in to help their coworkers, die while battling a forest fire at Gates of the Mountain, Montana – 1949

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect today. The first law signed by President Clinton, it allows many workers time off each year due to serious health conditions or to care for a family member – 1993
Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016(The FMLA Handbook, 4th edition, is a thorough, highly readable handbook that will help every worker get the most out of the surprisingly comprehensive 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. It explains how unions can protect workers who are absent from work for justifiable medical or family-care reasons; block compulsory “light-duty” work programs; force employers to allow part-time schedules; obtain attendance bonuses for workers absent for medical reasons; and much more. An important tool for every union rep.)

August 06
Cigarmakers’ Int’l Union of America merges with Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union – 1974

American Railway Supervisors Association merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1980
Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016
Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of the U.S. & Canada merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1986

Some 45,000 CWA and IBEW-represented workers at Verizon begin what is to be a two-week strike, refusing to accept more than 100 concession demands by the telecommunications giant – 2011

Today in labor history for the week of August 1, 2016August 07
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Wobbly organizer, born – 1890

Eugene Debs and three other trade unionists arrested after Pullman Strike – 1894

Actors Equity is recognized by producers after stagehands honor their picket lines, shutting down almost every professional stage production in the country. Before unionizing, it was common practice for actors to pay for their own costumes, rehearse long hours without pay, and be fired without notice – 1919

United Slate, Tile & Composition Roofers, Damp & Waterproof Workers Association change name to Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers – 1978

Some 675,000 employees struck ATT Corp. over wages, job security, pension plan changes and better health insurance. It was the last time CWA negotiated at one table for all its Bell System members: divestiture came a few months later. The strike was won after 22 days – 1983

Television writers, members of The Writers Guild of America, end a 22-week strike with a compromise settlement – 1988
—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016

July 18

The Brotherhood of Telegraphers begins an unsuccessful 3-week strike against the Western Union Telegraph Co. – 1883

Some 35,000 Chicago stockyard workers strike – 1919

Hospital workers win 113-day union recognition strike in Charleston, S.C. – 1969

July 19

Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016Women’s Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, N.Y.  Delegates adopt a Declaration of Women’s Rights and call for women’s suffrage – 1848

An amendment to the 1939 Hatch Act, a federal law whose main provision prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, is amended to also cover state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds – 1940

July 20

New York City newsboys, many so poor that they were sleeping in the streets, begin a 2-week strike. Several rallies drew more than 5,000 newsboys, complete with charismatic speeches by strike leader Kid Blink, who was blind in one eye. The boys had to pay publishers up front for the newspapers; they were successful in forcing the publishers to buy back unsold papers – 1899
Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016(Kids at Work: Your heart will be broken by this exceptional book’s photographs of children at backbreaking, often life-threatening work, and the accompanying commentary by author Russell Freedman. Photographer Lewis Hine—who himself died in poverty in 1940—did as much, and perhaps more, than any social critic in the early part of the 20th century to expose the abuse of children, as young as three and four, by American capitalism.)

Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016Two killed, 67 wounded in Minneapolis truckers’ strike—”Bloody Friday” – 1934

Postal unions, Postal Service sign first labor contract in the history of the federal government—the year following an unauthorized strike by 200,000 postal workers – 1971

July 21

Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.” – 1877

Compressed air explosion kills 20 workers constructing railroad tunnel under the Hudson River – 1880 IWW leads a strike at Hodgeman’s Blueberry Farm in Grand Junction, Mich. – 1964

Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016Radio station WCFL, owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor, takes to the airwaves with two hours of music. – 1926
(The first and only labor-owned radio station in the country, WCFL was sold in 1979.)

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich., is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human – 1984

July 22

Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, 6-day week, and a board of arbitration – 1886
Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016(From First Contact to First Contract: A Union Organizer’s Handbook is a no-nonsense tool from veteran labor organizer and educator Bill Barry. He looks to his own vast experience to document and help organizers through all the stages of a unionization campaign, from how to get it off the ground to how to bring it home with a signed contract and a strong bargaining unit.)

A bomb was set off during a “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Tom Mooney, a labor organizer, and Warren Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted of the crime, but both were pardoned 23 years later – 1916

July 23 

Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016Anarchist Alexander Berkman shoots and stabs but fails to kill steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in an effort to avenge the Homestead massacre 18 days earlier, in which nine strikers were killed. Berkman also tried to use what was, in effect, a suicide bomb, but it didn’t detonate – 1892

Northern Michigan copper miners strike for union recognition, higher wages and 8-hour day. By the time they threw in the towel the following April, 1,100 had been arrested on various charges and Western Federation of Miners President Charles Moyer had been shot, beaten and forced out of town – 1913

Aluminum Workers Int’l Union merges with The United Brick & Clay Workers of America to form Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers – 1981

July 24

The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), later to be joined by several smaller unions. The ALA’s agenda included support of the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam. It disbanded after four years following the death of UAW President Walter Reuther – 1968
Today in labor history for the week of July 18, 2016((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.)

The U.S. minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour today. The original minimum, set in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, was 25¢ per hour – 2008 U.S. minimum wage rose to $7.25 per hour, up from $6.55 – 2009

Rep. Peter DeFazio Introduces Legislation to Curb Speculative Wall Street Trading and Bolster Main Street

Rep. Peter DeFazio

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today introduced legislation that would levy a 0.03 percent tax on transactions of stocks, bonds and derivatives to discourage the same speculative financial trading that led to the 2008 Wall Street collapse and 2010 ‘Flash Crash’.  Revenue could be directed to programs that strengthen Main Street American families. 

The Putting Main Street FIRST Act: Finishing Irresponsible Reckless Speculative Trading would provide billions of dollars in revenue each year by taxing three basis points, or three pennies for every hundred dollars, on most financial trading including stocks, bonds, and other transactions.  According to the Joint Committee for Taxation, the tax would raise $417 billion over ten years, which could be used to fund national priorities such as free higher education or job-creating infrastructure repair.

The legislation is supported by the AFL-CIO, Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Communications Workers of America, and Public Citizen. 

“Thanks to the reckless greed of Wall Street over the past few decades, the American economy is a grossly unbalanced playing field,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “The only way we can level it is if we rein in reckless speculative financial trading and curb near-instantaneous high-volume trades that create instability in the stock market and our national economy. These financial practices have no intrinsic value, and exist to make a quick buck for already-wealthy speculators. If we want to give middle-class families a fair shot at a strong economy that works for all Americans, we need to put Main Street FIRST.”

“The ‘Putting Main Street First Act’ will help encourage long-term investing, fund badly needed public investment and make our tax code fairer for working people,” said AFL-CIO Director of Policy Damon Silvers.

“Given the massive costs of the financial crisis and its devastating impact on families across the country — and on the wealth of minority communities in particular — it is long past time for Wall Street to pay its fair share in taxes, said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform. “We applaud Representative DeFazio’s financial transaction tax proposal; a Wall Street speculation tax would not only help move our financial markets away from dangerous high-frequency trading, but also raise significant revenue to address unmet needs.”

“This tax is a great way to raise money for the federal government by making the financial sector more efficient,” said Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “The cost of the tax will be fully covered by the savings from reduced trading. This means that the ordinary investor will be left unharmed by this tax. The only people who feel the impact will be the short-term traders and the financial intermediaries.”

“Our Take on Wall Street coalition is determined to end to the finance industry’s practice not paying its fair share of taxes and sticking working families with the bill. We’re proud to join with Congressman DeFazio in putting working families and Main Street first, by setting a small fee on the billions of dollars of Wall Street trade that happen every day. Not only would this raise more than $400 billion to help families and communities, it would put the brakes on risky Wall Street behavior that threatens our economy,” said CWA President Chris Shelton.

“This bill is good policy and good precedent,” said Lisa Gilbert, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division. “Not only would taxing Wall Street trades grow revenue, it would stop the sorts of high-speed trading that adds volatility to our markets and increases costs for everyday investors and the public. Reining in Wall Street by stopping dangerous speculation is the right thing to do, and Public Citizen applauds Representative DeFazio and other champions for their support of this critical reform.”

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