Today in Labor History: May 28; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: May 282015.05.25-history-rochester.gen.strike
At least 30,000 workers in Rochester, N.Y., participate in a general strike in support of municipal workers who had been fired for forming a union – 1946
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The Wages of Work
St. Peter checked out heaven’s waiting room to see if any newcomers had arrived. In fact, three people were there.
+++ Of the first person, St. Peter asked, “And how much money did you make last year?” “$100,000,” he replied. “OK,” said St. Peter. “You must be an accountant. You go over to that room for processing.”
+++ Of the next person, St. Peter asked, “How about you? How much did you earn last year?” The person replied, “$150,000.” “OK,” said St. Peter. “You must be a lawyer. You go over there and fill out the forms.”
+++ Of the last person, St. Peter asked, “And how much did you make last year?” The man replied, “$8,500.”
+++ “Oh, really?” said St. Peter. “And what instrument do you play?”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: May 27; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: May 27
The U.S. Supreme Court declares the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional, about a month before it was set to expire – 1935
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Member Tip: The Basic Labor Law Framework
Most people are surprised to learn how many laws are on the books that regulate the workplace lives of workers, both union and non-union. There are laws at the federal, state 2015.05.25-membertip-legaland local levels that apply only to you in a unionized environment: laws that govern the right to organize a union, the collective bargaining relationship between an employer and its unionized workforce, and the internal rights and responsibilities of unions and their members. Both you and employees who are not represented by a union are covered by a host of other laws. So in many instances, you as a unionized employee have the best of both worlds: statutory protections provided to all employees, plus the protections your union has been able to negotiate in your particular workplace.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: May 26

Men and women weavers in Pawtucket, R.I., stage nation’s first “co-ed” strike – 1824

Western Federation of Miners members strike for 8-hour day, Cripple Creek, Colo. – 1894

Actors’ Equity Assn. is founded by 112 actors at a meeting in New York City’s Pabst Grand Circle Hotel.  Producer George M. Cohan responds: “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union.”  Later a sign will appear in Times Square reading: “Elevator operator wanted.  George M. Cohan need not apply” – 1913
2015.05.25-history-coping(Coping with Difficult People: Bosses, supervisors, co-workers, friends, family members… difficult people can make your life hell, but you can do something about it. Based on fourteen years of research and observation, Coping with Difficult People offers proven, effective techniques guaranteed to help you right the balance in bad relationships and take charge of your life.)

IWW Marine Transport Workers strike, Philadelphia – 1920

Some 100,000 steel workers and miners in mines owned by steel companies strike in 2015.05.25-history-battle.of.overpassseven states.  The Memorial Day Massacre, in which ten strikers were killed by police at Republic Steel in Chicago, took place four days later, on May 30 – 1937

Ford Motor Co. security guards attack union organizers and supporters attempting to distribute literature outside the plant in Dearborn, Mich., in an event that was to become known as the “Battle of the Overpass.” The guards tried to destroy any photos showing the attack, but some survived—and inspired the Pulitzer committee to establish a prize for photography – 1937
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Today in Labor History: May 25; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: May 252015.05.25-history-shoemakers
Pressured by employers, striking shoemakers in Philadelphia are arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy for violating an English common law that bars schemes aimed at forcing wage increases. The strike was broken – 1805
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Cool Labor Site: Art Directors Guild
Get an inside look at showbiz as lived by union brothers and sisters. Check out the website for the Art Directors Guild, the folks who make movies look so cool. They’re also known as Local 800 of IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
May 22—Eugene V. Debs imprisoned in Woodstock, Ill., for role in Pullman strike – 18952015.05.18-history-debscross
(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. Debs was a labor activist in 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.)
2015.05.18-history-toledoMay 23—The Battle of Toledo begins today: a five-day running battle between roughly 6,000 strikers at the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard.  Two strikers died and more than 200 were injured.  The battle began in the sixth week of what ultimately became a successful two-month fight for union recognition and higher pay.  One guardsman told a Toledo Blade reporter: “Our high school graduation is … tonight and we were supposed to be getting our diplomas” – 1934
May 24—After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world” – 1883
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Labor Video: IBEW Keeps San Francisco’s Cable Cars
They are one of San Francisco’s most iconic images—the cable car. And keeping the world’s last permanently operational manually operated cable car system up and running are members of San Francisco IBEW Local 6. Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: May 21; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: May 212015.05.18-history-sbc-strikers
Nearly 100,000 unionized SBC Communications Inc. workers begin a 4-day strike to protest the local phone giant’s latest contract offer – 2004
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2015.05.18-humor-electricianLabor Humor: Dis-Organized
Non-union electrician: “I’ve worked for this company for eight years, and I’ve been doing the work of three people. I want a raise!”
+++Contractor: “I can’t give you a raise. But tell me who the other two people are. I’m firing them.”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: May 20; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: May 20
The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers’ rights to form unions – 1926
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Member Tip: Who Can File a Grievance?
Individual members of the bargaining unit—that is, you and your co-workers—can initiate 2015.05.18-membertip-grievancegrievances under the contract if you believe that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement have been violated. Unions themselves also initiate grievances. As the exclusive representative of everyone in the bargaining unit, the union has the right—and, quite often, also the legal obligation—to use the collective bargaining agreement to challenge the employer’s improper or unfair actions. The union will sometimes file grievances over employer conduct that affects everyone in the bargaining unit—for example, if a unilateral employer directive limits everyone’s ability to take leave days. The union may also file grievances on behalf of one particular group of employees, such as workers on one shift who are denied proper pay. And there is a third possibility: sometimes the union finds it necessary or politically desirable to initiate a grievance on behalf of a single individual. (This may be a useful way to provide some “protection” to that individual, or perhaps to send a message to the employer that the union stands firmly behind this one employee.)
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer