News

November 8, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 8

November 08
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

November 7, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 7

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.)
 

November 6, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 6

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
 

November 5, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 5

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

November 4, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 4

Populist 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

November 3, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 3

 
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 2, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 2

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

November 1, 2017

This Week in Labor History - November 1

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
(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.)

October 31, 2017

This Week in Labor History - 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

October 30, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 30

Ed Meese, attorney general in the Ronald Reagan administration, urges employers to begin spying on workers "in locker rooms, parking lots, shipping and mail room areas and even the nearby taverns" to try to catch them using drugs - 1986

October 29, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 29

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

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

October 28, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 28

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

October 27, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 27

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

October 26, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 26

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 that "so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction (last rites) to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick." - 1825

October 25, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 25

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
 

October 24, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 24

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

October 24, 2017

This Week in Labor History - 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

October 22, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 22

 


October 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 21, 2017

This Week in Labor History - 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

October 20, 2017

This Week in Labor History - 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
 
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

October 18, 2017

This Week in Labor History - 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
 
New 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

October 17, 2017

This Week in Labor History - 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

October 16, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 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

October 16, 2017

This Week in Labor History - October 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