Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
Uriah Smith Stephens born in Cape May, NJ. A tailor by trade, in 1869 he led nine Philadelphia garment workers to found the Knights of Labor – 1821
Fighting breaks out when sheriff’s deputies attempt to arrest Wobbly leader Richie “Blackie” Ford as he addressed striking field workers at the Durst Ranch in Wheatland, Calif. Four persons died, including the local District Attorney, a deputy and two workers. Despite the lack of evidence against them, Ford and another strike leader were found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury that included eight farmers – 1913
Florence Reece dies in Knoxville, Tenn. at 86. She was a Mine Workers union activist and author of “Which Side Are You On?”, written after her home was ransacked by Harlan County county sheriff J.H. Blair and his thugs during a 1931 strike – 1986
[Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song is a wonderful childrens’ book that 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. Graphic novelist Christopher Cardinale brings Florence’s triumphant story to life in true anarchist style. In the UCS bookstore now.]
15,000 air traffic controllers strike. President Reagan threatens to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they “have forfeited their jobs” if they do not. Most stay out, and are fired August 5 – 1981
The Amalgamated Assn. of Iron and Steel Workers is formed. It partnered with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, CIO in 1935; both organizations disbanded in 1942 to form the new United Steelworkers – 1876
15,000 silk workers strike in Paterson, N.J. for 44 hour week – 1919
185,000 Teamsters begin what is to become a successful 15-day strike at United Parcel Service over excessive use of part-timers – 1997
Using clubs, police rout 1,500 jobless men who had stormed the plant of the Fruit Growers Express Co. in Indiana Harbor, Indiana, demanding jobs – 1931
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect today. The first law signed by President Clinton, it allows many workers time off each year due to serious health conditions or to care for a family member – 1993
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Cool Labor Site: National Labor College
The National Labor College is the nation’s only accredited higher education institution devoted exclusively to educating union members, leaders and staff. http://www.nlc.edu/
Labor Video: Teamwork
Workers in Nepal team up to move cement at a construction site. Dangerous, the ultimate in labor-intensive, and amazing. Click here to watch the video.