Today in Labor History: July 30; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: July 302015.07.27-history-hoffa
Former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappears. Declared legally dead in 1982, his body has never been found – 1975
Click here for the complete posting.

Labor Humor: Slaphappy
A male supervisor, a male union steward and two female workers found themselves sitting at the same table in a bar after work one evening. Suddenly there was a power failure and the room went pitch-black. The silence was broken by the sound of a kiss, then a loud slap.
+++When the lights went back on a few seconds later, the supervisor was sitting with a big red handprint across his cheek.
+++The first woman thought, “Good, she slapped him.” The second woman also thought, “Good, she slapped him.”
+++The supervisor thought, “Damn steward. He kisses one of the women and I get slapped.”
+++The steward, laughing to himself, thought, “How about that. I kiss the back of my hand, slap the supervisor and get away with it!”
—From Workplace Jokes: Only SOME of Them Will Get You Fired!

Today in Labor History: July 29; Member Tip

2014.07.28—history-jones-marchToday in Labor History: July 29
A 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 2015.07.27-history-jonescentury 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.)
Click here for the complete posting.

Member Tip: The Steps of a Grievance
Before just about any workplace complaint is put into writing, as a formal grievance, an attempt should be made to work through the problem at the lowest level. Even if your contract’s grievance procedure doesn’t specifically call for an informal oral step to start out with, you and/or your union steward should talk to a supervisor in an attempt to clear up any misunderstandings, or to resolve any disagreement. This is almost always a good 2015.07.27-membertip-grievance.stepsidea, in part because once a complaint is committed to writing, parties’ positions tend to harden. And even if an informal attempt to address a problem does not in fact resolve it, it generally has the beneficial effect of clarifying what the problem is and how the parties may see it differently. But if informal attempts don’t work, the next step consists of formally putting the grievance in writing. Generally the idea is simply to lay out, at least in general terms, that an identified action taken by the employer is being challenged, and that certain relief is sought. Your contract booklet itself may contain a sample form to be used to initiate a grievance. One or more face-to-face meetings take place following the filing of a formal written grievance. At these meetings, the union and the employer representatives try to hash out whether they agree on what the facts are, whether the contract has in fact been violated, and if so, what it will take to resolve the grievance.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: July 28

Women shoemakers in Lynn, Mass., create Daughters of St. Crispin, demand pay equal to that of men – 1869

Harry Bridges is born in Australia. He came to America as a sailor at age 19 and went on to help form and lead the militant Int’l Longshore and Warehouse Union for more than 40 years – 1901

A strike by Paterson, N.J., silk workers for an 8-hour day, improved working conditions 2015.07.27-history-paterson.strikeends 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

Federal troops burn the shantytown built near the U.S. Capitol by thousands of unemployed WWI veterans, camping there to demand a bonus they had been promised but never received – 1932

Nine miners are rescued in Sommerset, Pa., after being trapped for 77 hours 240 feet underground in the flooded Quecreek Mine – 2002
Click here for the complete posting.

Today in Labor History: July 27; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: July 272015.07.27-history-sylvis
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died – 1869
Click here for the complete posting.

Cool Labor Site: CPWR
The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights is dedicated to reducing occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the construction industry. Through their research, training, and service programs, they serve the industry in cooperation with key federal and construction industry partners nationwide.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
July 24—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 – 19682015.07.20-history-dignity
(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.)
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
Click here for the complete posting.

2015.07.20-video-heatLabor Video: OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Campaign
Workers can stay safe and healthy if employers watch out for their health and remember 3 simple words: Water, Rest, and Shade. Go to for more on OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign. Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: July 22; Member Tip

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 – 18862015.07.20-history-first.contract
(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.)
—Click here for the complete posting.

Member Tip: Health and Safety
There is a confusing patchwork of laws and agencies that govern workplace health and safety matters, but they’re all extremely important. Six thousand American workers are 2015.07.20-membertip-health.safetykilled on the job each year, and there are far too many instances of unnecessary workplace injuries and illnesses. The best-known workplace health and safety law is OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which is administered by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also called OSHA. Some workplaces (such as those in the coal mining industry) are regulated by a separate law, and almost half the states administer their own, federally approved programs for public sector employees. Other laws and federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, play a role as well. And in all likelihood, your union contract has extra protections for your workplace health and safety.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: July 21

Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.” – 1877

Compressed air explosion kills 20 workers constructing railroad tunnel under the Hudson River – 1880

IWW leads a strike at Hodgeman’s Blueberry Farm in Grand Junction, Mich. – 1964
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

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich., is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human – 1984
Click here for the complete posting.