Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition2014.08.18—
August 22—The Kerr-McGee Corp. agrees to pay the estate of the late Karen Silkwood $1.38 million, settling a 10-year-old nuclear contamination lawsuit.  She was a union activist who died in 1974 under suspicious circumstances on her way to talk to a reporter about safety concerns at her plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma – 1986
August 23—Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world – 1927
2014.08.18—history-gatling.gunAugust 24—The Gatling Gun Co.—manufacturers of an early machine gun—writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the “recent riotous disturbances around the country.” Says the company: “Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling… can clear a street or block and keep it clear” – 1877
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Labor Video: Working with the Dropkick Murphys
The Dropkick Murphys sing out for working people.  Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: August 21; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: August 212013.08.19—history-nat-turner
Slave revolt led by Nat Turner begins in Southampton County, Va. – 1831
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Labor Humor: Match Made in Heaven
Albert Einstein dies and goes to heaven.  “I’m terribly sorry,” says St. Peter, “but your suite is not quite ready yet and you’ll have to spend a week in temporary quarters.”

Arriving at the dorm, Albert finds he’ll be living with three other men.

2014.08.18—humor-einstein.wings“Hi,” say the first man.  “We’re well matched, as I have an IQ of 180.”

“Great,” says Al.  “We can discuss quantum physics.”

The second man says hello and mentions that he has an IQ of 159.

“Well, we can discuss the latest mathematical theories,” says Einstein.

The third introduces himself and says, “I’m honored to meet you, sir, but my IQ is only 85.”

“No problem,” says Einstein.  “So, tell me, what’s it like to be a supervisor?”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: August 20; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: August 202014.08.18—
The Great Fire of 1910, a wildfire that consumed about 3 million acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana—an area about the size of Connecticut—claimed the lives of 78 firefighters over two days.  It is believed to be the largest, although not deadliest, fire in U.S. history – 1910
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Member Tip: Why Grieve?
One of the most frustrating experiences in the life of a union representative is to hear an employer say, “That’s just you complaining; none of the people you say you represent even cares.”  Sometimes it takes a grievance filed by an employee—or two or three or more—to get the employer to acknowledge that a particular problem is real and needs to be addressed.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: August 19

Today in Labor History: August 192014.08.18—history-iww.songbook
First edition of IWW Little Red Song Book published – 1909

Some 2,000 United Railroads streetcar service workers and supporters parade down San Francisco’s Market Street in support of pay demands and against the company’s anti-union policies. The strike failed in late November in the face of more than 1,000 strikebreakers, some of them imported from Chicago – 1917

Founding of the Maritime Trades Dept. of the AFL-CIO, to give “workers employed in the maritime industry and its allied trades a voice in shaping national policy” – 1946

2014.08.18—history-amfa-strikePhelps-Dodge copper miners in Morenci and Clifton, Ariz., are confronted by tanks, helicopters, 426 state troopers and 325 National Guardsmen brought in to walk strikebreakers through picket lines in what was to become a failed 3-year fight by the Steelworkers and other unions – 1983

Some 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians, members of AMFA at Northwest Airlines, strike the carrier over job security, pay cuts and work rule changes. The 14-month strike was to fail, with most union jobs lost to replacements and outside contractors – 2005
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Today in Labor History: August 18; Cool Labor Site

2014.08.18—history-wevdToday in Labor History: August 18
Radio station WEVD, named for Eugene V. Debs, goes on the air in New York City, operated by The Forward Association as a memorial to the labor and socialist leader – 1927
(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.  Many union activists and labor scholars see Debs as the definitive labor leader.)
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Cool Labor Site: Union Stats2014.08.18—website-unionstats
The Union Membership and Coverage Database, available at Union Stats, is an Internet data resource providing private and public sector labor union membership, coverage and density estimates compiled from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly household survey, using BLS methods.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
2014.08.11—history-gerry.horganAugust 15—Gerry Horgan, chief steward of CWA Local 1103 and NYNEX striker in Valhalla, N.Y., is struck on the picket line by a car driven by the daughter of a plant manager and dies the following day. What was to become a 4-month strike over healthcare benefits was in its second week – 1989
August 16—George Meany, plumber, founding AFL-CIO president, born in City Island, Bronx. In his official biography, George Meany and His Times, he said he had “never walked a picket line in his life.” He also said he took part in only one 2014.08.11—history-meanystrike (against the United States Government to get higher pay for plumbers on welfare jobs). Yet he also firmly said that “You only make progress by fighting for progress.” Meany served as secretary-treasurer of the AFL from 1940 to 1952, succeeded as president of the AFL, and then continued as president of the AFL-CIO following the historic merger in 1955 until retiring in 1979 – 1894
August 17—Year-long Hormel meatpackers’ strike begins in Austin, Minn. – 1985
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2014.08.11—video-bad.jobsLabor Video: Five Weird Jobs
Bored with the old 9-5?  Explore career options including shark tank cleaning, video game goldmining, road kill picking-upping… maybe the old 9-5 isn’t so bad after all.  Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: August 14; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: August 142014.08.11—history-gdansk-poland
Members of the upstart Polish union Solidarity seize the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. Sixteen days later the government officially recognizes the union. Many consider the event the beginning of the end for the Iron Curtain – 1980
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Labor Humor: Dead Man’s Curse
The union rep and the company’s labor relations rep were constantly at odds.  Whenever the union tried to discuss a grievance, yelling could be heard throughout the workplace.  The company man would shout, “When I die, I will dig my way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life!”

The workers feared him, and he liked that.

Finally, the mean labor relations rep up and died.  As he’d left no survivors, the union rep volunteered to make the burial arrangements.  After the burial, the shop stewards and the union rep stopped for a drink.  One of the stewards wondered aloud if the company man could ever dig his way out of the grave just to haunt the union guy.

The union rep said, “Let him dig. I had him buried upside down.”

—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: August 13; Member Tip

2014.08.11—history-tracy-city-minersToday in Labor History: August 13
Striking miners at Tracy City, Tenn., capture their mines and free 300 state convict strikebreakers. The convicts had been “leased” to mineowners by officials in an effort to make prisons self-supporting and make a few bucks for the state. The practice started in 1866 and lasted for 30 years – 1892
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Member Tip: The Real Power—Away From the Bargaining Table
The outcome of contract negotiations is determined in large part simply by who has more power.  Each side constantly evaluates during bargaining whether it can hold firm in its positions or whether it must 2014.08.11—membertip-union.strongcompromise, based on its assessment of how much each side can exert pressure on the other if agreement is not reached.  Because of these power dynamics, effective union negotiators don’t conceive of bargaining as taking place “in a vacuum.”  Throughout negotiations, unions that understand the big picture look for ways to demonstrate that the members stand behind their bargaining team.  If an employer gets the message that the small group of union negotiators it’s dealing with face-to-face is in fact speaking for large numbers of bargaining unit members, that can create enough pressure for the employer to give the union what it wants.  Most important, the employer must believe that if issues aren’t successfully resolved at the table, the members won’t take the employer’s “no” for an answer.  What this means is that if you want a good contract, you and your union may well not have the luxury of simply sending dedicated and skilled union negotiators off to deal with the employer and then waiting until they come back with a string of victories.  Actions outside of the bargaining room may be necessary to get what’s needed inside that room.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: August 12

Today in Labor History: August 12

The national Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners is founded in Chicago in a gathering of 36 carpenters from 11 cities – 18812014.08.11—history-ziegfield

Coal company guards kill seven, wound 40 striking miners who are trying to stop scabs, Virden, Ill. – 1898

With the news that their boss, Florenz Ziegfeld, was joining the Producing Managers’ Association, the chorus girls in his Ziegfield Follies create their own union, the Chorus Equity Association. They were helped by a big donation from superstar and former chorus girl Lillian Russell. In 1955 the union merged with the Actor’s Equity Association – 1919

Teamsters official William Grami is kidnapped, bound and beaten near Sebastopol, Calif. He was leading a drive to organize apple plant workers in the area – 1955
2014.08.11—history-blackjacks(From Blackjacks to Briefcases is the first book to document the systematic and extensive use by American corporations of professional unionbusters, an ugly profession that surfaced after the Civil War and has grown bolder and more sophisticated with the passage of time. Since the 1980s, hundreds of firms—including the Detroit News, Caterpillar and Pittston Coal, to name but three—have paid out millions of dollars to hired thugs. Some have been in uniforms and carried nightsticks and guns, others have worn three-piece suits and carried attaché cases, but all had one simple mission: to break the backs of workers struggling for decency and fair treatment on the job.)

The North American Free Trade Agreement—NAFTA—is concluded between the United States, Canada and Mexico, to take effect in January, 1994, despite protests from labor, environmental and human rights groups – 1992

What was to become a 232-day strike by major league baseball players over owners’ demands for team salary caps began on this day; 938 games were cancelled – 1994
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Today in Labor History: August 11; Cool Labor Site

2014.08.11—history-young-big-billToday in Labor History: August 11
Federal troops drive some 1,200 jobless workers from Washington D.C. Led by unemployed activist Charles “Hobo” Kelley, the group’s “soldiers” include young journalist Jack London and William Haywood, a young miner-cowboy called “Big Bill” – 1884
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Cool Labor Site: Berger-Marks Foundation
The mission of the Berger-Marks Foundation is to help organize women into unions by providing both financial support and camaraderie to people and organizations doing that work. The site features several useful, downloadable reports, including The Next Generation: A Handbook for Mentoring Future Union Leaders, and Women’s Committees in Worker Organizations.


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