Today in Labor History: August 19
First edition of IWW Little Red Song Book published – 1909
(Originally published in 1964 and long out of print, Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology remains by far the biggest and best source on IWW history, fiction, songs, art, and lore. This new edition includes 40 pages of additional material from the 1998 Charles H. Kerr edition by Fred Thompson and Franklin Rosemont, and a new preface by Wobbly organizer Daniel Gross.
Welcoming women, Blacks, and immigrants long before most other unions, the Wobblies from the start were labor’s outstanding pioneers and innovators, unionizing hundreds of thousands of workers previously regarded as “unorganizable.” Wobblies organized the first sit-down strike (at General Electric, Schenectady, 1906), the first major auto strike (6,000 Studebaker workers, Detroit, 1911), the first strike to shut down all three coalfields in Colorado (1927), and the first “no-fare” transit-workers’ job-action (Cleveland, 1944). With their imaginative, colorful, and world-famous strikes and free-speech fights, the IWW wrote many of the brightest pages in the annals of working class emancipation.)
Some 2,000 United Railroads streetcar service workers and supporters parade down San Francisco’s Market Street in support of pay demands and against the company’s anti-union policies. The strike failed in late November in the face of more than 1,000 strikebreakers, some of them imported from Chicago – 1917
Phelps-Dodge copper miners in Morenci and Clifton, Ariz., are confronted by tanks, helicopters, 426 state troopers and 325 National Guardsmen brought in to walk strikebreakers through picket lines in what was to become a failed 3-year fight by the Steelworkers and other unions – 1983
Some 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians, members of AMFA at Northwest Airlines, strike the carrier over job security, pay cuts and work rule changes. The 14-month strike was to fail, with most union jobs lost to replacements and outside contractors – 2005
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