Today in Labor History: April 13

Int’l Hod Carriers & Building Laborers’ Union (today’s Laborers’ Int’l Union) is founded, as 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities—representing 8,186 Laborers—meet in Washington, D.C. – 1903

A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa leads his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Indiana, in a successful job action: by refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands.  Among other things: the “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32¢ an hour—only if growers arrived with berries to unload.  Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger – 1930

Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs is imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I.  While in jail he ran for president, received 1 million votes – 1919
(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. 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. He was brilliant, sincere, compassionate and scrupulously honest. A founder of one of the nation’s first industrial unions, the American Railway Union, he went on to help launch the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies. A man of firm beliefs and dedication, he ran for President of the United States five times under the banner of the Socialist Party, in 1912 earning 6 percent of the popular vote.)
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