Today in Labor History: March 5; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: March 52015.03.02—history-attucks
British soldiers, quartered in the homes of colonists, took the jobs of working people when jobs were scarce. On this date, grievances of rope makers against the soldiers led to a fight. Soldiers shot down Crispus Attucks, a black colonist, then others, in what became known as the Boston Massacre. Attucks is considered the first casualty in the American Revolution – 1770
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2015.03.02—humor-questionLabor Humor: Expectations
An applicant was being interviewed for admission to a prominent business school. “Tell me,” inquired the interviewer. “Where do you expect to be ten years from now?”
+++“Well, let’s see,” replied the student. “It’s Wednesday afternoon. I guess I’d be on the golf course by now.”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: March 4; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: March 42015.03.02—history-frances.perkins
President Franklin D. Roosevelt names a woman, Frances Perkins, to be secretary of labor. Perkins became the first female cabinet member in U.S. history – 1933
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Member Tip: Employer Handbooks and Regulations
If you work for a company, especially a big one, chances are good that there’s a handbook with all sorts of rules on things like attendance, dealing with customers, and other specifics about what’s allowed and not allowed on the job.  Similarly, the typical government employer has agency regulations that control scheduling of time off, how inclement weather days are determined, and countless other topics.  These are areas that may or may not be addressed in the union contract.  Though they’re not likely to take precedence over specific terms of a contract, they may well be rules that are binding.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: March 3

Birth date in Coshocton, Ohio, of William Green, a coal miner who was to succeed Samuel Gompers as president of the American Federation of Labor, serving in the role from 1924 to 1952. He held the post until his death, to be succeeded by George Meany – 1873
The local lumber workers’ union in Humboldt County, Calif., founded the Union Labor Hospital Association to establish a hospital for union workers in the county. The hospital became an important community facility that was financed and run by the local labor movement – 1906

Congress approves the Seamen’s Act, providing the merchant marine with rights similar to those gained by factory workers. Action on the law was prompted by the sinking of the Titanic three years earlier. Among other gains: working hours were limited to 56 per week; guaranteed minimum standards of cleanliness and safety were put in place – 1915

The Davis-Bacon Act took effect today. It orders contractors on federally financed or assisted construction projects to pay wage rates equal to those prevailing in local construction trades – 1931
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Today in Labor History: March 2; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: March 2
Postal workers granted 8-hour day – 1913
(From the Folks Who Brought You The Weekend: This is a sweeping, highly readable 2015.03.02—history-weekendhistory of U.S. labor that will be welcomed by anyone interested in learning more about the struggle of American working people to better their lives through collective action. This excellent narrative surveys the historic efforts and sacrifices that working people made to win the rights we take for granted today, from minimum wage and overtime protections to health and safety guarantees to even the weekend itself.)
Click here for the full week of labor history.

2015.03.02—website-epi2Cool Labor Site: EPI’s Family Budget Calculator
EPI’s Family Budget Calculator compiles the costs of essentials such as housing, food, child care, transportation and health care in different regions of the country to provide an estimate of how much families need to get by.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
February 27—Four hundred fifty Woolworth’s workers and customers occupy store for 2015.02.23—history-woolworths.sitdowneight days in support of Waiters and Waitresses Union, Detroit – 1937
February 28—Members of the Chinese Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in San Francisco’s Chinatown begin what is to be a successful four-month strike for better wages and conditions at the National Dollar Stores factory and three retail outlets – 1938
March 1—CIO president John L. Lewis and U.S. Steel President Myron Taylor sign a landmark contract in which the bitterly anti-union company officially recognized the CIO as sole negotiator for the company’s unionized workers. Included: the adoption of overtime pay, the 40-hour work week, and a big pay hike – 1937
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2015.02.23—video-guthrieLabor Video: Woody Guthrie plays the Ballad of John Henry
Rare clip of Woody Guthrie playing the Ballad of John Henry, accompanied by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, from the movie “To Hear Your Banjo Play.” Great old footage of railroad workers—and Pete Seeger makes a cameo on banjo at the end! Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: February 26; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: February 26
Congress OKs the Contract Labor Law, designed to clamp down on “business agents” who contracted abroad for immigrant labor. One of the reasons unions supported the measure: employers were using foreign workers to fight against the growing U.S. labor movement, primarily by deploying immigrant labor to break strikes – 1885
2015.02.23— Labor Law Source Book: Texts of 20 Federal Labor Laws is a 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.)
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Labor Huomor: Wrong Jurisdiction
A penguin walks into a bar and asks for a tuna sandwich and a beer. He tells the stunned bartender that he is working at the construction site across the road. Weeks go by and the2015.02.23—humor-penguin penguin becomes a regular lunchtime fixture at the bar.
+++One day a circus comes to town. The ringmaster visits the bar and soon learns of the talking penguin. Amazed but skeptical, the ringmaster vows to recruit the penguin for a circus act.
+++Right on schedule, in walks the penguin and orders his beer and tuna sandwich. The ringmaster strolls over.
+++“Hello, there,” he says. “I run the circus down at the park and I’m looking for new talent. Can I offer you a job?”
+++“That big tent in the park?” asks the penguin.
+++“That’s the one,” replies the ringmaster.
+++“Are you crazy?” cries the penguin. “That’s a fabric tent. I do drywall!”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired! 

Today in Labor History: February 25; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: February 252015.02.23—history-wisc.protesters
A crowd estimated to be 100,000 strong rallied at the Wisconsin state Capitol in protest of what was ultimately was to become a successful push by the state’s Republican majority to cripple public employee bargaining rights – 2011
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Member Tip: Protection From Retaliation
If you think you’re being retaliated against for union activity, be aware that there 2015.02.23—membertip-retaliationsometimes is a difference between what you know actually occurred and what you can prove as a matter of law. You’d be kidding yourself if you thought that there’s never been an instance in which a worker was in fact retaliated against for having engaged in behavior that is legally protected but was unable to prove that the retaliation took place. Still, don’t let this prevent you from asserting your rights. There have been plenty more instances where the agency charged with enforcing a law moved aggressively against an employer trying to prevent an employee from asserting rights under that law. After all, if all employees are successfully intimidated into not using the provisions of the law, that agency becomes useless.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer