Today in Labor History: October 23; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: October 232014.10.20—history-phillips.petroleum
Explosion and fire at Phillips Petroleum refinery in Pasadena, Texas, kills 23 and injures 314 – 1989
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Labor Humor: How to Get a Day Off
Two factory workers are talking.  The woman says, “I can make the boss give me the day off.”

The man replies, “And how would you do that?”

The woman says, “Just wait and see.”  She then hangs upside down from the ceiling.

The boss comes in and says, “What are you doing?”

The woman replies, “I’m a light bulb.”

The boss then says, “You’ve been working so much that you’ve lost your mind.  I think you need to take the day off.”

The man starts to follow her and the boss says, “Where are you going?”

The man says, “I’m going home, too.  I can’t work in the dark.”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: October 22; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: October 222013.10.21—history-pretty-boy-floyd
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
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Member Tip: Not a Spectator Sport
Unions are far more than a kind of employment insurance policy for working people.  2014.10.20—membertip-spectator.sportPlenty of union members and union officials have learned the hard way that when workers come to think of their union as a business that provides service rather than a group of people banding together to fight for common interests, the union quickly loses the clout and credibility needed to defend and advance the members’ interests.  When an employer looks and sees only a small handful of paid union staff or elected union leaders, and no one standing behind them, pretty soon the employer starts thinking that “the union” isn’t really much to contend with.  And the truth is, that’s right.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: October 21; In the News

Today in Labor History: October 212014.10.20—
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
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2014.10.20—news-ebolaIn the News: Healthcare Unions Counsel Members on Ebola
Hundreds of thousands of Registered Nurses across North America work in our hospitals and hundreds of thousands more workers provide other hospital care and support services.  Unions representing these workers are advising their members as the Ebola outbreak made its way to Texas and infected two nurses who were caring for a terminal victim of the disease.
National Nurses United:
The Service Employees International Union:
AFT Nurses and Health Professionals:

Today in Labor History: October 20; Cool Labor Site

Today 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
(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. Debs was a labor activist 2014.10.20—history-debscrossin the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the heart 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.)
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2014.10.20—website-labor.artsCool Labor Site: Labor Arts
Created in 2000, Labor Arts is a virtual museum designed to gather, identify and display examples of the cultural and artistic history of working people and to celebrate the trade union movement’s contributions to that history.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition2014.10.13—
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
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
October 19—The National Association of Letter Carriers achieves equalization of wages for all letter carriers, meaning city delivery carriers began receiving the same wages regardless of the size of the community in which they worked – 1949
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2014.10.13—video-rtwLabor Video: Right to Work—or Right to be Dissed?
A clever animated video produced by Preserve Middle Class Missouri, a group formed to fight a right-wing push to weaken unions in the state.  Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: October 16; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: October 162014.10.13—history-Marie.Antoinette.execution
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
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Labor Humor: Making an Impression
A young businessman had just started his own firm.  With help from his parents he rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques.

2014.10.13—humor-young.businessmanSitting there, he saw a man come into the outer office.  Wishing to appear busy, the businessman picked up the phone and started to pretend he had a big deal working.  He threw huge figures around and made giant commitments. Finally, he hung up and asked the visitor, “Can I help you?”

The man smiled and said, “Sure. I’ve come to  connect the phone.”
—Got a labor joke you’d like to share?  Click here to email us and if we use your joke we’ll send you a prize!

Today in Labor History: October 15; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: October 15
President Woodrow Wilson signs the Clayton Antitrust Act—often referred to as “Labor’s Magna Carta”—establishing that unions are not “conspiracies” under the law. It for the first time freed unions to strike, picket and boycott employers. In the years that followed, however, numerous state measures and negative court interpretations weakened the law – 1914
2014.10.13—history-joelguide.bookcover(Every Employee’s Guide to the Law, 3rd edition: The Clayton Antitrust Act was liberating, but on a day-to-day basis you need to know about current laws. This book goes into solid, useful detail about the federal and state laws that, together with union contracts, are designed to assure fairness and justice in the workplace.)
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Member Tip: Union Movement = Social Justice Movement2014.10.13—membertip-mlk
Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in Memphis in 1968, the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.  But how many Americans know that what brought Dr. King to Memphis was the melding of a labor union contract fight and the growing force of the civil rights movement?  There long has been recognition on the union side, as well, that our fight for improved working conditions is connected to the social justice movement in the larger society.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer