Today in Labor History: October 17
A huge vat ruptures at a London brewery, setting off a domino effect of similar ruptures, and what was to become known as The London Beer Flood. Nearly 1.5 million litres of beer gushed into the streets drowning or otherwise causing the deaths of eight people, mostly poor people living in nearby basements – 1814
Labor activist Warren Billings is released from California’s Folsom Prison. Along with Thomas J. Mooney, Billings had been pardoned for a 1916 conviction stemming from a bomb explosion during a San Francisco Preparedness Day parade. He had always maintained his innocence – 1939
“Salt of the Earth” strike begins by the mostly Mexican-American members of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union Local 890 in Bayard, N.M. Strikers’ wives walked picket lines for seven months when their men were enjoined during the 14-month strike against the New Jersey Zinc Co. A great movie, see it! – 1950
[Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films About Labor: This wonderful book is an encyclopedic guide to 350 labor films from around the world, ranging from those you’ve heard of -- Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me -- to those you’ve never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them. In the UCS bookstore now.]
Twelve New York City firefighters die fighting a blaze in midtown Manhattan – 1966
International Printing Pressmen’s & Assistants’ Union of North America merges with International Stereotypers’, Electrotypers’ & Platemakers’ Union to become Printing & Graphic Communications Union – 1973
Industrial Union of Marine & Shipbuilding Workers of America merges with International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1988
… click here for complete posting.
Member Tip: Public Employees, Bargaining, and Strikes
For public employees, often the services of a mediator or a fact-finder (someone who holds a mini-hearing where each side presents the facts and arguments to justify its bargaining positions) is required as a matter of law for the collective bargaining process. And sometimes in the public sector, when the parties are unable to see eye to eye, an outside arbitrator (like a judge) or a government agency has the power to set the terms of what the new contract will be. Some public employees ultimately have the legal right to strike, but many don’t. And some that don’t have the legal right to strike routinely do so, anyway.
– Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer
Labor Song: Welcome Union Members
Organized in 1998, the DC Labor Chorus is a singing collective of union members, community activists, and professional musicians committed to the cause of social and economic justice for all workers. “We sing for those who labor, we sing to organize, we are a mighty chorus, we’re singing for our lives.” Click here to listen to the song.