3/06/2018 History

Today in Labor History – March 6th , 1886 – The Knights of Labor picket to protest the practices of the Southwestern Railroad system, and the company’s chief, high-flying Wall Street financier Jay Gould. Some 9,000 workers walked off the job, halting service on 5,000 miles of track. The workers held out for two months, many suffering from hunger, before they finally returned to work.

1913 – Joe Hill’s song “There Is Power In A Union” appears in “Little Red Song Book”.

1930 – 100,000 people demonstrated for jobs in New York City. Demonstrations by unemployed workers demanding unemployment insurance were occurring in virtually every major U.S. city. In New York, police attacked a crowd of 35,000. In Cleveland, 10,000 people battled police. In Detroit, a Communist Party organized unemployment demonstration brought out more than 50,000. Thousands took to the streets in Toledo, Flint and Pontiac. These demonstrations led to the creation of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), sponsored by Republican congressman Hamilton Fish, with the support of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), to investigate and quash radical activities. A National Trade-Union Unity League council in Madison, Wisconsin, marching around Capitol Square, was attacked by UW students. Council leader Lottie Blumenthal was thrown to the ground, while students attacked other marchers and destroyed their banners and pamphlets. One of the athletes who was arrested said: “We are getting so damned many radical Jews here that something must be done. Police killed four workers in Detroit who were demanding jobs.

1942 – Tom Mooney died on this date. Mooney was an Irish-American IWW organizer and 22-year political prisoner, locked up on trumped up charges for the San Francisco Preparedness Day bombing in 1916.

1957 – International Brotherhood of Paper Makers merges with United Paperworkers of America to become United Papermakers & Paperworkers.

1970 – The federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act is enacted.

1972 – Predominantly young workers at a Lordstown, Ohio GM assembly plant stage a wildcat strike, largely in objection to the grueling workpace: at 101.6 cars per hour, their assembly line was believed to be the fastest in the world.

1978 – President Jimmy Carter invoked the Taft-Hartley law to quash the 1977-78 national contract strike by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The UMWA had been striking since December 1977, but rejected a tentative contract agreement in early March 1978. Carter invoked the national emergency provision of Taft-Hartley and strikers were ordered back to work, but they ignored the order and the government did little to enforce it. Eventually a settlement was reached and ratified in late March.

2009 – The U.S. Dept. Of Labor reports that the nation’s unemployment rate soared to 8.1 percent in February, the highest since late 1983, as cost-cutting employers slashed 651,000 jobs amid a deepening recession.

2/27/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 27, 1902 – Birth of John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif. Steinbeck is best known for writing “The Grapes of Wrath,” which exposed the mistreatment of migrant farm workers during the Depression and led to some reforms.

1937 – 450 Woolworth’s workers and customers occupy store for eight days in support of Waiters and Waitresses Union, Detroit.

1939 – The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal.

1943 – Disaster kills 75 at Smith Mine in Red Lodge, Montana.

2/26/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 26th, 1972 – A Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam collapses in Logan County, West Virginia, and 138 million gallons of black waste water and sludge pours into the Buffalo Creek valley below, killing 125 and injuring over 1,100 people. In its legal filings, the company referred to the accident as “an Act of God.”

2/21/2018 History

  Today in Labor History – February 21st , 1887 – Oregon passes the first legislation  in the country to officially recognize the “workingman’s holiday” – Labor Day. By 1894, 30 other states had adopted the holiday and on June of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September each year a federal holiday.

2/20/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 20, 1834 – Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Mass., organize a “turn-out”—a strike—in protest. The action failed. Two years later they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson.

1908 – Rally for unemployed becomes major confrontation in Philadelphia, 18 arrested for demanding jobs.

1917 – Thousands of women march to New York’s City Hall demanding relief from exorbitant wartime food prices. Inflation had wiped out any wage gains made by workers, leading to a high level of working class protest during World War I.

1990 – United Mine Workers settle 10-month Pittston strike in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.


02/19/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 19th,1910 – The Philadelphia Rapid Transit trolley company fires 173 workers – all members of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America – and replaces them with non-union workers from New York City. Street battles, demonstrations, and a general strike ensued in the city that lasted for 57 days.

02/16/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 16, 1870 – Leonora O’Reilly was born in New York. The daughter of Irish immigrants, she began working in a factory at 11, joined the Knights of Labor at 16, and was a volunteer investigator of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. She was a founding member of the Women’s Trade Union League.

1883 – Diamond Mine disaster in Braidwood, Ill. The coal mine was on a marshy tract of land with no natural drainage. Snow melted and forced a collapse on the east side of the mine, killing 74.

1926 – Beginning of a 17-week general strike of 12,000 New York furriers, in which Jewish workers formed a coalition with Greek and African American workers and became the first union to win a 5-day, 40-hour week.

1936 – Rubber Workers begin sit-down strike at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

1959 – American Wire Weavers Protective Association merges with United Papermakers & Paperworkers.

2011 – All public schools in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc., are closed as teachers call in sick to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights.

02/15/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 15, 1820 – Susan B. Anthony, suffragist, abolitionist, labor activist, born in Adams, Mass. “Join the union, girls, and together say: Equal Pay for Equal Work!”.

1934 – U.S. legislators pass the Civil Works Emergency Relief Act, providing funds for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which funneled money to states plagued by Depression-era poverty and unemployment, and oversaw the subsequent distribution and relief efforts.

1950 – The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) expels the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers; the Food, Tobacco & Agricultural Workers; and the United Office & Professional Workers for “Communist tendencies.” Other unions expelled for the same reason (dates uncertain): Fur and Leather Workers, the Farm Equipment Union, the Int’l Longshoremen’s Union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.

02/09/2018 History

Today in Labor History – February 09, 1917 – Wobbly activist Tom Mooney convicted in bombing frame-up orchestrated by Pinkerton Detective Agency. He was pardoned and released 22 years later.

1937 – Congress approves legislation allowing for a total of $940 million to be used for Depression-era relief projects. $790 million of this money was intended to be used to fund work relief and flood recovery programs.

1950 – U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy falsely charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. It seems that just about everyone else the Wisconsin senator didn’t like was a Communist as well, including scores of unionists. This was the beginning of “McCarthyism.” He ultimately was officially condemned by the Senate and died of alcoholism.

1961 – President Kennedy asks Congress to approve creation of the Medicare program, financed by an increase in Social Security taxes, to aid 14.2 million Americans aged 65 or older.

2000 – Some 19,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers in Washington state and Oregon begin what is to become a 40-day strike over economic issues.