Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition
May 15—The Library Employees’ Union is founded in New York City, the first union of public library workers in the United States. A major focus of the union was the inferior status of women library workers and their low salaries – 1917
(Union for Beginners: Written and profusely illustrated in a user-friendly, accessible style, Unions for Beginners lays down a simple presentation of the colorful epic story of the struggle of working people to rise from lives dominated by toil and underpaid work to becoming full-fledged participants in the American dream they helped to build. Unions for Beginners presents the history of unions and the labor movement, the principles underlying union organizing, the decline of unions in the shadow of the rising corporate state, and the resurgence in the 21st century of union activism.)
May 16—Minneapolis general strike backs Teamsters, who are striking most of the city’s trucking companies – 1934
May 17—Twelve Starbucks baristas in a midtown Manhattan store, declaring they couldn’t live on $7.75 an hour, signed cards demanding representation by the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies. Management roadblocks continue to deny the workers their union to this day – 2004
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Labor Video: The American Dream
The late comedian George Carlin’s take on how working people—”blue collar, white collar, it desn’t matter what color your shirt is”—are being royally ****ed. Viewer alert: brother Carlin’s language is, to put it delicately, quite salty. Click here to watch the video.