Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
The J.P. Stevens textile company is forced to sign its first union contract after a 17-year struggle in North Carolina and other southern states – 1980
Eugene V. Debs, U.S. labor leader and socialist, dies in Elmhurst, Ill. Among his radical ideas: an eight-hour workday, pensions, workman’s compensation, sick leave and social security. He ran for president from a jail cell in 1920 and got a million votes – 1926
[The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Debs was a labor activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the heart and soul of the nation’s working people. This book is hands-down the best, most readable biography ever of a great man and great leader, the most eloquent spokesperson and leader ever of the U.S. labor and socialist movements. The Bending Cross had been out of print but has been reissued, with a new introduction by Mike Davis, a widely published historian and social commentator, a distinguished professor of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, and an editor of the New Left Review. In the UCS bookstore now.]
Hollywood came under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened hearings into alleged Communist influence within the motion picture industry. Dozens of union members were among those blacklisted following as a result of HUAC’s activities – 1947
Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan writes to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorses Reagan “I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.” He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election, he fires the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions – 1980
Death of Merle Travis, songwriter and performer who wrote “Sixteen Tons” & “Dark as a Dungeon” – 1983
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Cool Labor Site: Union-busting Script
Employers often have a script that they follow to try to stop workers from organizing. CWA does a great job of revealing the script — and union responses — in their clever online “See N’ Say” game.
Labor Video: Marvin’s Got it Made!
At least according to this short promotional film by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, produced in 1964. It’s a combination fashion show, comic/drama and, to the modern eye, somewhat sexist period piece. When you get to the page you’ll find Marvin listed right there, under “Archives.” Also check out Mother’s On Strike! at the same website. http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/ILGWU/archives/filmVideo/index.html