Today in Labor History: October 17
“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
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Looking for Back Pay
The union member had been waiting months for his grievance to be resolved—he’d worked overtime for 15 straight weeks but hadn’t been paid for it. Management had stalled the grievance procedure as long as it could, but, finally, the case was going before an arbitrator. On the morning the case was to be heard, however, the worker’s supervisor called in sick. The case was postponed.
The worker, already really mad that things were taking so long, became absolutely enraged when he picked up the evening newspaper and found a smiling photo of the “sick” supervisor on the front page: He’d come in second in a big golf tournament on the very day he was supposed to be too ill to attend the arbitration hearing.
Newspaper in hand, the worker and his union steward march into the company’s offices to demand an explanation. The company’s vice-president for Human Resources looks at the newspaper, scratches his chin, then says: “Wow. He probably would have come in first place if he hadn’t been sick.”
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