Today in Labor History: August 30
Delegates from several East Coast cities meet in convention to form the National Trades’ Union, uniting craft unions to oppose “the most unequal and unjustifiable distribution of the wealth of society in the hands of a few individuals.” The union faded after a few years – 1834
President Franklin Roosevelt’s Wealth Tax Act increases taxes on rich citizens and big business, lowers taxes for small businesses – 1935
OSHA publishes scaffold safety standard, designed to protect 2.3 million construction workers and prevent 50 deaths and 4,500 injuries annually – 1996
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Labor Book: Joe Van der Katt and the Great Picket Fence
In this delightful children’s book, Joe Van der Katt and the Great Picket Fence, in the town of Litterbox in New York’s Catskill Mountains, J. Paul Kitty and the other fat cats have all the money and power until the poor cats get organized and demand fair pay and better working conditions. The employees at Cat’s Cradle Company eventually triumph when, led by fellow cats Joe Wobbly and Gompers, they build a picket fence for the owner but don’t make a gate.
Labor Humor: The Shepherd’s Visitor
A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of the dust cloud toward him. The driver, wearing a hand-tailored suit, Gucci shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the shepherd: “If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?” The shepherd looked at the man, then looked at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answered “sure.” The man whipped out his iPad, called up a GPS satellite navigation system, scanned the area, and then opened up a database and an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas. Finally, he printed out a 130-page report on his miniaturized printer, turned to the shepherd and said “You have exactly 1586 sheep.” “That is correct; take one of the sheep,” said the shepherd, watching as the man selected one of the animals and bundled it into his BMW. The shepherd then asked: “If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?” “OK, why not,” answered the man. “Clearly,” said the shepherd, “you are a management consultant.” “That’s correct.” Said the astonished man, “but how did you guess?” “No guessing required,” answered the shepherd. Click here for the punchline.