• July 22, 2017
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    The Week in Labor History

    July 17
    Two ammunition ships explode at Port Chicago, Calif., killing 322, including 202 African-Americans assigned by the Navy to handle explosives. It was the worst home-front disaster of World War II. The resulting refusal of 258 African-Americans to return to the dangerous work underpinned the trial and conviction of 50 of the men in what is called the Port Chicago Mutiny - 1944

    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
    Women'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
    (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.)
     
    Two 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
     
    Radio station WCFL, owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor, takes to the airwaves with two hours of music. The first and only labor-owned radio station in the country, WCFL was sold in 1979 - 1926
     
    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
    (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
    Anarchist 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

    - compiled/edited by David Prosten at Union Communication Services

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