Today in Labor History: September 26
The Old 97, a Southern Railway train officially known as the Fast Mail, derails near Danville, Va., killing engineer Joseph “Steve” Broady and ten other railroad and postal workers. Many believe Broady had been ordered to speed to make up for lost time. The Wreck of the Old 97 inspired balladeers; a 1924 recording is sometimes cited as the first million-selling country music record – 1903
The first production Ford Model T leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Mich. It was the first car ever manufactured on an assembly line, with interchangeable parts. The auto industry was to become a major U.S. employer, accounting for as many as one of every eight to ten jobs in the country – 1908
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Member Tip: A Union’s Difficult Balancing Act
What can sometimes make life in a union tricky is that the membership does not consist of people with 100 percent identical interests and needs. Within any group, there are some things that everyone has in common (like everyone in your union working for the same employer), but also other things are different (like night shift workers wanting extra pay for working at night, or day workers needing better parking). Sometimes only one employee has a workplace problem requiring union help, such as fighting a disciplinary action. But even though it’s just one person, the union must still advocate for that individual. And the union’s voice must be heard, as well, for all the different smaller groups of employees in the workplace, whether those groupings are based on shift, work classification, age, how much money people earn, or any other employment-related factors.
– Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer
Labor Song: Rockin’ Solidarity Forever
“Brooklyn Women’s Chorus was founded in 1997 by Brooklyn resident and musician Bev Grant. We are women of all ages, from diverse ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. We practice together once a week, more if we are preparing for a performance. We sing at peace rallies and union functions, coffee houses and meeting houses…. The power of song is born anew with each new chorus member. And because our music calls attention to the things we find right or wrong in our society and world, that power is also reborn with every song we sing.” – From the liner notes. Click here to listen to the song.