Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
August 1After organizing a strike of metal miners against the Anaconda Company, Wobbly organizer Frank Little is dragged by six masked men from his 2014.07.28—humor-little-bodyButte, Mont., hotel room and hung from the Milwaukee Railroad trestle. Years later writer Dashiell Hammett would recall his early days as a Pinkerton detective agency operative and recount how a mine company representative offered him $5,000 to kill Little. Hammett says he quit the business that night – 1917
August 2The first General Strike in Canadian history is held in Vancouver, organized as a 1-day political protest against the killing of draft evader and labor activist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, who had called for a general strike in the event that any worker was drafted against his will – 1918
August 3Florence Reece dies in Knoxville, Tenn., at 86. She was a Mine Workers union activist and 2014.07.28—history-reeceauthor of Which Side Are You On?, written after her home was ransacked by Harlan County sheriff J.H. Blair and his thugs during a 1931 strike – 1986
(Which Side are You On? The Story of a Song: This wonderful childrens’ book tells the story of a song written in 1931 that has become an anthem for people fighting for their rights all over the world.  Florence Reece’s husband Sam, a coal miner in Kentucky, was helping organize a union when all hell broke loose.  The company and its hired thugs started attacking miners and their homes, including Reece’s.  While bullets flew around her and the couple’s seven children and they took cover under their bed, Florence took out her pencil and started writing—and the song was born.)
—Click here for the complete posting.

2014.07.28—video-bad-day2The Worst Day Ever at Work
There are bad days at work, then there are really bad days at work.  Here are some really, REALLY bad days at work.  Try not to wince.  Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: July 31; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: July 31
The Great Shipyard Strike of 1999 ends after Steelworkers at Newport News Shipbuilding ratify a breakthrough agreement which nearly doubles pensions, increases security, ends inequality, and provides the highest wage increases in company and industry history to nearly 10,000 workers at the yard. The strike lasted 15 weeks – 19992014.07.28—history-contcost
(Contract Costing for Union Negotiators: This incredibly helpful manual for union negotiators explains both the fundamentals and the details of costing a collective agreement to prepare for and conduct your contract negotiations.  It describes the principal ways that contract costs are calculated and expressed by negotiators, and guides you through the process of accurately calculating average wages for your bargaining unit—for contracts with step progression and those without.)
—Click here for the complete posting.

Labor Humor: Equal Opportunity
A business looking for office help put a sign in the window saying, “Help Wanted: Must be able to type, have computer skills, and be bilingual. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

2014.07.28—humor-smart-dogPretty soon, a dog trotted in, looked at the receptionist and wagged his tail, then walked over to the sign, looked at it and whined. The receptionist got the office manager, who tried to shoo the dog away. When the dog just sat there, wagging his tail hopefully, the exasperated manager decided to play along and said, “I can’t hire you. The sign says you have to be able to type.”

The dog trotted over to the computer and typed out a perfect letter. The stunned manager told the dog, “You also have to have computer skills.”

The dog wagged his tail again, padded over to the computer and keyed in a flawless spreadsheet. The manager, dumb-founded, said, “Look, I see that you’re obviously an intelligent dog with some interesting abilities, but I still can’t hire you.”

The dog cocked his head, then ran over to the sign in the window and put his paw on the sentence about being an Equal Opportunity Employer. “Yes,” the manager admitted. “But it also says that you have to be bilingual.”

The dog looked at the manager calmly and said, “Meow.”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: July 30; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: July 302014.07.28—history-hoffa-machus
Former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappears. Declared legally dead in 1982, his body has never been found – 1975
—Click here for the complete posting.

Member Tip: The Nuts and Bolts of Dues
There is tremendous variation from one union to another as to how dues amounts are set.  And it is quite possible that the different components of your union dues (local, district or other intermediate body, and national/international) are calculated using different formulas and changed in different ways.  The formula used for determining what your union dues are, and the mechanisms that are in place for making any changes, usually are found in the constitution and bylaws of the union at the various levels.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: July 29

Today in Labor History: July 29
The Coast Seamen’s Union merges with the Steamship Sailors’ Union to form the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific – 1891

2014.07.28—history-jones-marchA preliminary delegation from Mother Jones’ March of the Mill Children from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, publicizing the harsh conditions of child labor, arrives today. They are not allowed through the gates – 1903
(The Autobiography of Mother Jones: Mary Harris Jones—“Mother Jones”—was the most dynamic woman ever to grace the American labor movement.  Employers and politicians around the turn of the century called her “the most dangerous woman in America” and rebellious working men and women loved her as they never loved anyone else.  She was an absolutely fearless and tireless advocate for working people, especially coal miners.  A founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies—she feared neither soldiers’ guns nor the ruling class’s jails.  Here, in her own words, is her story of organizing in steel, railroading, textiles and mining; her crusade against child labor; her fight to organize women; even her involvement in the Mexican revolution.)

Nineteen firefighters die while responding to a blaze at the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corp. refinery in Sun Ray, Texas – 1956

Following a 5-year table grape boycott, Delano-area growers file into the United Farm Workers union hall in Delano, Calif., to sign their first union contracts – 1970
—Click here for the complete posting.

Today in Labor History: July 28; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: July 282014.07.28—history-paterson-silk-strike
A strike by Paterson, N.J., silk workers for an 8-hour day, improved working conditions ends after six months, with the workers’ demands unmet. During the course of the strike, approximately 1,800 strikers were arrested, including Wobbly leaders Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn – 1913
—Click here for the complete posting.

2014.07.28—website-epi-budget-calculatorCool Labor Site: EPI’s Family Budget Calculator
Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition2014.07.21—history-radium
July 25—Fifteen “living dead women” testify before the Illinois Industrial Commission.  They were “Radium Girls,” women who died prematurely after working at clock and watch factories, where they were told to wet small paintbrushes in their mouths so they could dip them in radium to paint dials.  A Geiger counter passed over graves in a cemetery near Ottawa, Illinois still registers the presence of radium – 1937
July 26—In Chicago, 30 workers are killed by federal troops, more than 100 wounded at the “Battle of the Viaduct” during the Great Railroad Strike – 1877
July 27—William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died – 1869
—Click here for the complete posting.

2014.07.21—video-hvn-will-protectLabor Video: Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl
An unexpected friendship between two Italian and Jewish immigrant girls provides the backdrop for this story of labor organizing and women’s growing activism.  While working in harsh sweatshops and factories, the young women also experienced the thrills of movies, amusement parks and dance halls.  As their numbers in the workforce grew and working conditions declined they took matters into their own hands.  In 1909, garment workers staged the “Uprising of the 20,000,” a massive strike that won union recognition and transformed the role of women in the union movement.  Click here to watch the trailer.

Today in Labor History: July 24; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: July 242014.07.21—history-dignity
The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), later to be joined by several smaller unions. The ALA’s agenda included support of the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam. It disbanded after four years following the death of UAW President Walter Reuther – 1968
(All Labor Has Dignity: People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform.)
—Click here for the complete posting.

Labor Humor: A Day at the Races
While placing a bet at the track, a company CEO  sees a union steward from his factory is at the next window.  The CEO hasn’t won a race yet, so out of curiosity he starts to watch what the steward does.
He soon notices that the steward bets heavily on horses that have been visited by a roving priest, who appears to be blessing the ponies.  The steward wins every time!  The CEO begins to bet on those horses too and, no matter what the odds, those horses win their races—he’s raking in the bucks!  He goes to a nearby ATM,  withdraws his savings, and then watches to see which horse the priest visits next.  He’s surprised when it’s the longest shot of the day—an older, tired-looking nag.  But still, the priest touches the nag’s forehead so the CEO puts his life’s savings on the horse.

The nag finishes last.  The crazed CEO confronts the steward and demands to know whether he, too, had lost his shirt on the race.  The steward says “Of course not!  I didn’t bet on that horse.”  “Why not?” demands the CEO.  “The priest blessed him, as he did all the others!”

“You should go to church once in a while,” replied the steward.  “Then you’d know the difference between a blessing and last rites.”
—Got a labor joke you’d like to share?  Email Linda Donahue, and if we use your joke we’ll send you a prize!

Today in Labor History: July 23; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: July 232014.07.21—history-berkman
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
—Click here for the complete posting.

Member Tip: Union Steward Availability
There is no set rule for how many stewards you’ll find in a particular workplace, or how many will have responsibility for particular work areas.  Sometimes there is a natural organization of the workplace—such as a well-defined work unit, or a particular work shift or one building separated from the rest of a larger facility—so that it makes sense for stewards to be assigned on that basis.  So it may be that stewards where you work function according to workplace geography—a steward may be responsible for all union members on a particular floor of a building, for example.  Maybe your steward is one who handles matters that directly affect everyone who does your type of job—such as all accountants in a particular government agency, or all nurses aides on a particular wing of a nursing home—or maybe your steward deals with everyone who works on your shift.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: July 22

Today in Labor History: 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 – 18862014.07.21—history-first-contact
(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 is 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
—Click here for the complete posting.

Today in Labor History: July 21; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: July 212014.07.21—history-wcfl
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
—Click here for the complete posting.

2014.07.21—website-labor-history-linksCool Labor Site: Labor History Links
This site is the most comprehensive bibliography of information, documents and links of U.S. labor history websites on the internet.  It was developed by labor historian Rosemary Feurer for the Labor and Working Class History Association.


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