Today in Labor History: April 23; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: April 232014.04.21—history-stull
Death of Ida Mae Stull, nationally recognized as the country’s first woman coal miner – 1980
(I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions: Although nearly half of union members in the United States are female, little more than one leadership position in five is held by a woman. This report is designed to promote women’s activism and leadership within unions across the country at the local, state, regional, and national levels.)
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Member Tip: You and the Union’s Bargaining Team
Think about asking to work on a union bargaining subcommittee that will have the job of researching the 2014.04.21—membertip-bargaining-committeeissues or digging up facts to respond to what the employer’s pushing for.  Or, if your union does this, you could volunteer to be a special bargaining representative for your work area.  Your job then is to help the union negotiators by distributing information on what’s happening at the negotiating table—through handing out flyers or holding small worksite meetings—and to function as the union’s “eyes and ears” on the shop floor, so that the union bargaining team can keep alert to what the members are thinking.  Or you may be able to serve on a special bargaining council, usually a pretty large group set up so that representatives from each work area can advise the bargaining team throughout negotiations.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: April 22

Today in Labor History: April 222014.04.21—history-hazel-dickens
Songwriter, musician and activist Hazel Dickens dies at age 75. Among her songs: “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” and “Working Girl Blues.” Cultural blogger John Pietaro: “Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them. Her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause” – 2011
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Today in Labor History: April 21; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: April 212014.04.21—history-goodyear
Some 12,500 Goodyear Tire workers strike nine plants in what was to become a 3-week walkout over job security, wage and benefit issues – 1997
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2014.04.21—website-workplace-fairnessCool Labor Site: Workplace Fairness
Workplace Fairness believes that fair treatment of workers is sound public policy and good business practice, and that free access to comprehensive, unbiased information about workers’ rights—without legal jargon—is an essential ingredient in any fair workplace.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition2014.04.14—history-murrah-bldg
April 18—After a four-week boycott led by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., bus companies in New York City agree to hire 200 black drivers and mechanics – 1941
April 19—An American domestic terrorist’s bomb destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, 99 of whom were government employees – 1995
April 20—An unknown assailant shoots through a window at United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther as he is eating dinner at his kitchen table, permanently impairing his right arm. It was one of at least two assassination attempts on Reuther. He and his wife later died in a small plane crash under what many believe to be suspicious circumstances – 1948
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2014.04.14—video-walmart2Labor Video: A Story About Food Stamps
In the latest video in the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark runs the numbers on Walmart paying its workers a living wage. And those numbers show that if Walmart passed on 100% of cost increases from raising employee salaries to a level where no full-time worker was eligible for food stamps, it would raise the cost of a box of macaroni and cheese by one cent.  Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: April 17; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: April 172014.04.14—history-bakery
The Supreme Court holds that a maximum-hours law for New York bakery workers is unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 14th amendment – 1905
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Labor Humor: Fill in the Blank!
It took workers and unions over 70 years to finally gain a 40-hour work week.  And then it took just 2 years for cell phones to destroy it.
—Got a labor joke you’d like to share? Email it to us at; if we use it in the newsletter, you’ll get credit and a prize!

Today in Labor History: April 16; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: April 16
Five hundred workers in Texas City, Texas die in a series of huge oil refinery and chemical plant explosions and fires – 19472014.04.14—history-prepared-bookcover
(Are You Prepared? A Guide to Emergency Planning in the Workplace: Today’s headlines are filled with disaster, from the natural—fire, flood, hurricane, tornado and the like—to the man-made, such as workplace shootings, explosions, accidental releases of toxic chemicals or radiation, even nightmares such as bombings. Are you and your co-workers prepared to respond quickly and safely if disaster strikes? Steps you take today can save lives tomorrow, from having escape plans to knowing how to quickly turn off power and fuel supplies.)
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Member Tip: Your Union Contract
Society functions under a set of laws passed by legislators.  The workplace functions under a collective bargaining agreement 2014.04.14—membertip-contractnegotiated by the union and the employer.  Both serve the same purpose: creating a set of binding rules on what is permitted and what is prohibited.  How does a contract get negotiated?  Sometimes the law under which a particular union and employer operate sets out specific procedures for reaching a collective bargaining agreement.  Or in the union contract itself, your union and employer may have agreed upon a set of rules for how the next contract is to be negotiated.  Exactly how the bargaining process shapes up will be determined in large part by whether you are in the public or private sector, and by the ground rules or history of the parties in your industry or workplace.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer

Today in Labor History: April 15

Today in Labor History: April 152014.04.14—history-ap-randolph
A. Philip Randolph, civil rights leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, born in Crescent City, Fla. – 1889

IWW union Agricultural Workers Organization formed in Kansas City, Mo. – 1915

Teacher unionists gather at the City Club on Plymouth Court in Chicago to form a new national union: the American Federation of Teachers – 1916

Start of ultimately successful six-day strike across New England by what has been described as the first women-led American union, the Telephone Operators Department of IBEW – 1919

Transport Workers Union founded – 1934
The first McDonald’s restaurant opens, in Des Plaines, Ill., setting the stage years later for sociologist Amitai Etzioni to coin the term “McJob.” As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, a McJob is “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector” – 1955
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Today in Labor History: April 14; Cool Labor Site

Today in Labor History: April 142014.04.14—history-zinn-ppls-history
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath published – 1939
(A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present: If your last serious read of American history was in high school—or even in a standard college course—you’ll want to read this amazing account of America as seen through the eyes of its working people, women and minorities.)
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2014.04.14—website-lostlabor2Cool Labor Site: Lost Labor
Lost Labor: Images of Vanished American Workers 1900-1980 is a selection of 155 photographs excerpted from a collection of more than 1100 company histories, pamphlets, and technical brochures documenting America’s business and corporate industrial history This collection has been assembled over the last 20 years and many of the titles are rare and difficult to find.

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition; Labor Video

Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition2014.04.07—history-jackie-robinson
April 11—Jackie Robinson, first black ballplayer hired by a major league team, plays his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbetts Field – 1947
April 12—Birth of Florence Reece, active in Harlan County, Ky., coal strikes and author of famed labor song “Which Side Are You On?” – 1900
April 13—A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa leads his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Indiana, in a successful job action: by refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands. Among other things: the “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32¢ an hour—only if growers arrived with berries to unload. Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger – 1930
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2014.04.07—video-antiunionalLabor Video: Medicine to Make You Sick!
Anti-Unionol is an AFSCME-produced video that “advertises” a revolutionary new drug that promises relief from the good wages and benefits earned by unionized workers, cautioning that side effects of Anti-Unionol may include lower wages, insecure retirement, and no paid leave.  Comic relief!  Click here to watch the video.

Today in Labor History: April 10; Labor Humor

Today in Labor History: April 102014.04.07—history-dolores-huerta
Birth of Dolores Huerta, a co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers – 1930
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Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door…
Bill Clinton, Al Gore and the Koch brothers were in an airplane that crashed. They’re up in heaven, and God’s sitting on the great white throne.
God addresses Al first. “Al, what do you believe in?”
Al replies, “Well, I believe that we need to save the world from climate change and that if any more Freon is used, all of humanity is doomed.” God thinks for a second and says, “Okay, that’s good. Come and sit at my left.”
God then addresses Bill Clinton. “Bill, what do you believe in?”
Bill Clinton replies, “Well, I believe in power to the people. I believe that democracy is a noble goal.” God thinks for a second and says, “Okay, that sounds good. Come and sit at my right.”
God then addresses the Koch brothers: ” What do you believe in,” God asks them.
The Koch brothers answer: “We believe you’re in our chair.”
—Got a labor joke you’d like to share? Email it to us at; if we use it in the newsletter, you’ll get credit and a prize!


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