Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition

September 23
The Workingman’s Advocate of Chicago publishes the first installment of The Other Side, by Martin A. Foran, president of the Coopers’ Int’l Union. Believed to be the first novel by a trade union leader and some say the first working-class novel ever published in the U.S. – 1868

A coalition of Knights of Labor and trade unionists in Chicago launch the United Labor party, calling for an 8-hour day, government ownership of telegraph and telephone companies, and monetary and land reform. The party elects seven state assembly men and one senator – 1886

A 42-month strike by Steelworkers at Bayou Steel in Louisiana ends in a new contract and the ousting of scabs – 1996

California Gov. Gray Davis (D) signs legislation making the state the first to offer workers paid family leave – 2002

September 24
Canada declares the Wobblies illegal – 1918

September 25
American photographer Lewis Hine born in Oshkosh, Wisc. – 1874
(Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor: Your heart will be broken by this exceptional book’s photographs of children at backbreaking, often life-threatening work, and the accompanying commentary by author Russell Freedman. Photographer Lewis Hine–who himself died in poverty in 1940–did as much, and perhaps more, than any social critic in the early part of the 20th century to expose the abuse of children, as young as three and four, by American capitalism.)

Two African-American sharecroppers are killed during an ultimately unsuccessful cotton-pickers’ strike in Lee County, Ark.  By the time the strike had been suppressed, 15 African-Americans had died and another six had been imprisoned.  A white plantation manager was killed as well – 1891
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Today in Labor History: September 22

Emancipation Proclamation signed – 1862

Eighteen-year-old Hannah (Annie) Shapiro leads a spontaneous walkout of 17 women at a Hart Schaffner & Marx garment factory in Chicago. It grows into a months-long mass strike involving 40,000 garment workers across the city, protesting 10-hour days, bullying bosses and cuts in already-low wages – 1910

Great Steel Strike begins; 350,000 workers demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee calls off the strike, their goal unmet, 108 days later – 1919

Martial law rescinded in Mingo County, W. Va., after police, U.S. troops and hired goons finally quell coal miners’ strike – 1922

U.S. Steel announces it will cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent – 1931

United Textile Workers strike committee orders strikers back to work after 22 days out, ending what was at that point the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor. The strike involved some 400,000 workers in New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South – 1934

Some 400,000 coal miners strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio – 1935

The AFL expels the Int’l Longshoremen’s Association for racketeering; six years later the AFL-CIO accepted them back into the house of labor – 1953

OSHA reaches its largest ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas, plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 – 2005

Eleven Domino’s employees in Pensacola, Fla., form the nation’s first union of pizza delivery drivers – 2006

San Francisco hotel workers end a 2-year contract fight, ratify a new 5-year pact with their employers – 2006
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Today in Labor History: September 21

Militia sent to Leadville, Colo., to break miners’ strike – 1896

Mother Jones leads a march of miners’ children through the streets of Charleston, W. Va. – 1912
(Mother Jones Speaks: Speeches and Writings: You can read here the actual speech Jones made on this day in 1912 to striking coal miners in Charleston, WV:  “…this crime, starvation and murder of the innocents, so they can fill the operators’ pockets, and build dog kennels for the workers.  Is it right?” Admirers of Mother Jones will want this comprehensive collection of her speeches, letters, articles, interviews and testimony before Congressional committees. In her own words, this brave and determined heroine, active from the end of the Civil War until shortly before her death in 1930, explains her life, her mission, her passion on behalf of working people.)

National Football League Players Association members begin what is to become a 57-day strike, their first regular-season walkout ever – 1982

Members of five unions at the Frontier Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas begin what was to become the longest successful hotel strike in U.S. history. All 550 workers honored the picket line for the entirety of the 6-year, 4-month, 10-day fight against management’s insistence on cutting wages and eliminating pensions – 1991
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Today in Labor History: September 20

Upton Sinclair, socialist and author of The Jungle—published on this day in 1906—born in Baltimore, Md. – 1878

According to folklorist John Garst, steel-drivin’ man John Henry, born a slave, outperformed a steam hammer on this date at the Coosa Mountain Tunnel or the Oak Mountain Tunnel of the Columbus and Western Railway (now part of the Norfolk Southern) near Leeds, Ala. Other researchers place the contest near Talcott, W. Va. – 1887

Int’l Hod Carriers, Building & Common Laborers Union of America changes name to Laborers’ Int’l Union – 1965
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Today in Labor History: September 19

Chinese coal miners forced out of Black Diamond, Wash. – 1885

Between 400,000 and 500,000 unionists converge on Washington D.C., for a Solidarity Day march and rally protesting Republican policies – 1981

Musician and labor educator Joe Glazer, often referred to as “Labor’s Troubadour,” died today at age 88.  Some of his more acclaimed songs include “The Mill Was Made of Marble,” “Too Old To Work” and “Automaton.” In 1979 he and labor folklorist Archie Green convened a meeting of 14 other labor musicians to begin what was to become the annual Great Labor Arts Exchange and, soon thereafter, the Labor Heritage Foundation – 2006
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Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition

September 16
More than 43,000 oil workers strike in 20 states, part of the post-war strike wave – 1945

A player lockout by the National Hockey League begins, leading to cancellation of what would have been the league’s 88th season. The lockout, over owner demands that salaries be capped, lasted 310 days – 2004

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee wins a signed contract with the Mount Olive Pickle Co. and growers, ending a 5-year boycott.  The agreement marked the first time an American labor union represented guest workers – 2004

Richard Trumka is elected president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s convention in Pittsburgh.  He had served as the secretary-treasurer under predecessor John Sweeney from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was president of the United Mine Workers for 13 years – 2009

September 17
Seventy-five workers die in explosion at Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburgh, Pa. – 1862

At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony calls for the formation of a Working Women’s Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote – 1868

One hundred thousand Pennsylvania anthracite coal miners go on strike. Their average annual wage is $250. They are paid by the ton, defined by Pennsylvania as 2,400 pounds, but which mine operators have increased to as much as 4,000 pounds – 1900

National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) formed at a convention in Washington, D.C. In 1999 it became part of the Int’l Association of Machinists (IAM) – 1917

Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09 – 1933

Southern employers meeting in Greenville, N.C., ready their big counter-offensive to break the textile labor strikes that have hit the Eastern seaboard. Ultimately they deploy 10,000 national guardsmen and 15,000 deputies, but fail to drive hundreds of thousands of strikers back to work – 1934

A Southern Pacific train loaded with sugar beets strikes a makeshift bus filled with 60 migrant workers near Salinas, Calif., killing 32. The driver said the bus was so crowded he couldn’t see the train coming – 1963

A total of 98 United Mine Workers of America members and a minister occupy the Pittston Coal Company’s Moss 3 preparation plant in Carbon, Va., beginning a year-long strike. Among other issues: management demands for drastic limitations in health and pension benefits for retired and disabled miners and their dependents and beneficiaries – 1989

The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” – 2011

September 18
The Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) is formally founded at an Ohio convention, during a period of serious corruption in the union. Two years earlier at an IBT convention in Las Vegas, a union reform leader who (unsuccessfully) called for direct election of officers and a limit on officers’ salaries had been beaten by thugs – 1978

Nine strikebreakers are killed in an explosion at Giant (gold) Mine near Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Miner Roger Warren confessed that he planted the explosives that caused the deaths. He recanted the confession but later confessed once again – 1992

A 20-month illegal lockout of 2,900 Steelworkers members at Kaiser Aluminum plants in three states ends when an arbitrator orders a new contract. Kaiser was forced to fire scabs and fork over tens of millions of dollars in back pay to union members – 1999

One week after the September 11, 2001, attacks, anthrax spores are mailed by an unknown party to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Five people exposed to the spores died, including two workers at Washington, D.C.’s USPS Brentwood facility: Thomas Morris, Jr. and Joseph Curseen, who were to die of their exposure within the month – 2001
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Today in Labor History: September 15

Some 5,000 female cotton workers in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., strike for a 10-hour day. The next day, male trade unionists become the first male auxiliary when they gather to protect the women from police attacks. The strike ultimately failed – 1845

President Kennedy signs off on a $900 million public-works bill for projects in economically depressed areas – 1962

More than 350,000 members of the United Auto Workers begin what is to become a 69-day strike against General Motors – 1970

Int’l Association of Siderographers merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1992
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