• June 28, 2017
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    The Week in Labor History

    June 26
    Members of the American Railway Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, refuse to handle Pullman cars, in solidarity with Pullman strikers. Two dozen strikers were killed over the course of the strike - 1894
     
    The 189-mile-long St. Lawrence Seaway opens, making the Great Lakes accessible to Atlantic shipping.  Thousands of laborers toiled for decades to make it happen; indirectly and directly, the Seaway today supports 75,000 jobs in Canada and 150,000 in the U.S. - 1959


    June 27
    Emma Goldman, women's rights activist and radical, born in Lithuania. She came to the U.S. at age 17 - 1869
     
    The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the "Wobblies," is founded at a 12-day-long convention in Chicago. The Wobbly motto: "An injury to one is an injury to all." - 1905
     
    Congress passes the National Labor Relations Act, creating the structure for collective bargaining in the United States - 1935
    (The Labor Law Source Book: Texts of 20 Federal Labor Laws: A very handy collection that puts the full texts of all the major U.S. labor laws into one book. Includes the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and 15 more. The full, actual language of each law is presented—without elaboration by the editor—and a helpful topic finder at the back of the book tells you which laws apply to basic concerns and classes of workers.)
     
    A 26-day strike of New York City hotels by 26,000 workers—the first such walkout in 50 years—ends with a 5-year contract calling for big wage and benefit gains - 1985
     
    A.E. Staley locks out 763 workers in Decatur, Ill. The lockout was to last two and one-half years - 1993
     
    June 28
    Birthday of machinist Matthew Maguire, who many believe first suggested Labor Day. Others believe it was Peter McGuire, a carpenter - 1850
     
    President Grover Cleveland signs legislation declaring Labor Day an official U.S. holiday - 1894
     
    The federal government sues the Teamsters to force reforms on the union, the nation's largest. The following March, the government and the union sign a consent decree requiring direct election of the union's president and creation of an Independent Review Board - 1988
     
    June 29
    What is to be a 7-day streetcar strike begins in Chicago after several workers are unfairly fired. Wrote the police chief at the time, describing the strikers’ response to scabs: "One of my men said he was at the corner of Halsted and Madison Streets, and although he could see fifty stones in the air, he couldn't tell where they were coming from." The strike was settled to the workers’ satisfaction - 1885
     
    An executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the National Labor Relations Board.  A predecessor organization, the National Labor Board, established by the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933, had been struck down by the Supreme Court - 1934
     
    IWW strikes Weyerhauser and other Idaho lumber camps - 1936
     
    Jesus Pallares, founder of the 8,000-member coal miners union, Liga Obrera de Habla Espanola, is deported as an "undesirable alien." The union operated in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado - 1936
     
    The Boilermaker and Blacksmith unions merge to become Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers - 1954
     
    The newly-formed Jobs With Justice stages its first big support action, backing 3,000 picketing Eastern Airlines mechanics at Miami Airport - 1987
     
    The U.S. Supreme Court rules in CWA v. Beck that, in a union security agreement, a union can collect as dues from non-members only that money necessary to perform its duties as a collective bargaining representative - 1988
     
    June 30
    Alabama outlaws the leasing of convicts to mine coal, a practice that had been in place since 1848. In 1898, 73 percent of the state's total revenue came from this source. 25 percent of all Black leased convicts died - 1928
     
    The Walsh-Healey Act took effect today. It requires companies that supply goods to the government to pay wages according to a schedule set by the Secretary of Labor - 1936
     
    The storied Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, a union whose roots traced back to the militant Western Federation of Miners, and which helped found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), merges into the United Steelworkers of America - 1967
     
    Up to 40,000 New York construction workers demonstrated in midtown Manhattan, protesting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s awarding of a $33 million contract to a nonunion company. Eighteen police and three demonstrators were injured. "There were some scattered incidents and some minor violence," Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the New York Post. "Generally, it was a pretty well-behaved crowd." – 1998

    Nineteen firefighters die when they are overtaken by a wildfire they are battling in a forest northwest of Phoenix, Ariz.  It was the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. in at least 30 years - 2013
     
    July 01
    The American Flint Glass workers union is formed, headquartered in Pittsburgh.  It was to merge into the Steelworkers 140 years later, in 2003 - 1873

    Steel workers in Cleveland begin what was to be an 88-week strike against wage cuts - 1885
     
    Homestead, Pa., steel strike. Seven strikers and three Pinkertons killed as Andrew Carnegie hires armed thugs to protect strikebreakers - 1892
     
    The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers stages what is to become an unsuccessful 3-month strike against U.S. Steel Corp. Subsidiaries - 1901
     
    One million railway shopmen strike - 1922
     
    Some 1,100 streetcar workers strike in New Orleans, spurring the creation of the po’ boy sandwich by a local sandwich shop owner and one-time streetcar man. "Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming," Bennie Martin later recalled, "one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’" Martin and his wife fed any striker who showed up – 1929

    In what was to be a month-long strike, 650,000 steelworkers shut down the industry while demanding a number of wage and working condition improvements.  They won all their demands, including a union shop - 1956
     
    National Association of Post Office & General Service Maintenance Employees, United Federation of Postal Clerks, National Federation of Post Office Motor Vehicle Employees & National Association of Special Delivery Messengers merge to become American Postal Workers Union - 1971
     
    Int’l Jewelry Workers Union merges with Service Employees Int’l Union - 1980
     
    Graphic Arts Int’l Union merges with Int’l Printing & Graphic Communications Union to become Graphic Communications Int’l Union, now a conference of the Teamsters - 1983
     
    Copper miners begin a years-long, bitter strike against Phelps-Dodge in Clifton, Ariz. Democratic Gov. Bruce Babbitt repeatedly deployed state police and National Guardsmen to assist the company over the course of the strike, which broke the union - 1983
    (Strikes Around the World draws on the experience of fifteen countries around the world – The United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Covering the high and low points of strike activity over the period 1968–2005, the study shows continuing evidence of the durability, adaptability and necessity of the strike.)
     
    Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union merges with Int’l Ladies' Garment Workers Union to form Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees - 1995
     
    Int’l Chemical Workers Union merges with United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l Union - 1996
     
    The Newspaper Guild merges with Communications Workers of America - 1997
     
    United American Nurses affiliate with the AFL-CIO - 2001
     
    July 02
    The first Walmart store opens in Rogers, Ark.  By 2014 the company had 10,000 stores in 27 countries, under 71 different names, employing more than 2 million people.  It is known in the U.S. and most of the other countries in which it operates for low wages and extreme anti-unionism - 1962
    (Why Unions Matter: In Why Unions Matter, the author explains why unions still matter in language you can use if you happen to talk with someone who shops or works at Walmart. Unions mean better pay, benefits, and working conditions for their members; they force employers to treat employees with dignity and respect; and at their best, they provide a way for workers to make society both more democratic and more egalitarian. Yates uses simple language, clear data, and engaging examples to show why workers need unions, how unions are formed, how they operate, how collective bargaining works, the role of unions in politics, and what unions have done to bring workers together across the divides of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.)
     
    President Johnson signs Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbidding employers and unions from discriminating on the basis of race, color, gender, nationality, or religion - 1964
     
    The Labor Dept. reports that U.S. employers cut 467,000 jobs over the prior month, driving the nation’s unemployment rate up to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent - 2009

     

    - compiled/edited by David Prosten at Union Communication Services

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