Today in Labor History: May 24

After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world” – 1883
(Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits follows the history of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO from the emergence of building trades councils to the age of the skyscraper. It takes the reader through treacherous fights over jurisdiction as new building materials and methods of work evolved and describes numerous Department campaigns to improve safety standards, work with contractors to promote unionized construction, and forge a sense of industrial unity among its fifteen (and at times nineteen) autonomous and highly diverse affiliates. Arranged chronologically, Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits is based on archival research in Department, AFL-CIO, and U.S. government records as well as numerous union journals, the local and national press, and interviews with former Department officers.)

Some 2,300 members of the United Rubber Workers, on strike for 10 months against five Bridgestone-Firestone plants, agree to return to work without a contract. They had been fighting demands for 12-hour shifts and wage increases tied to productivity gains – 1995
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