Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition

September 02
White and Chinese immigrants battle in Rock Springs, Wyo., fueled by racial tensions and the practice of Union Pacific Railroad of hiring lower-paid Chinese over whites. At least 25 Chinese died and 15 more were injured. Rioters burned 75 Chinese homes – 1885

Operating railway employees win 8-hour day – 1916

Mineowners bomb West Virginia strikers by plane, using homemade bombs filled with nails and metal fragments. The bombs missed their targets or failed to explode – 1921

President Eisenhower signs legislation expanding Social Security by providing much wider coverage and including 10 million additional Americans, most of them self-employed farmers, with additional benefits – 1954

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed by President Ford, regulating and insuring pensions and other benefits, and increasing protections for workers – 1974
(Retire Happy: What To Do NOW to Guarantee A Great Retirement: Everyone who works for a living thinks at some point about retirement, but few actually consider what that really means, other than escaping the daily grind. For sure, most of us worry about having enough money, and this highly readable book provides a lot of information and advice on the subject: how much we’ll need, how to make the most of what we’ve accumulated, how to accumulate more (even as we get close to retirement) and how to make it last. For that advice alone, Retire Happy is worth the price.)

September 03
African-American cotton pickers organize and strike in Lee County, Texas, against miserably low wages and other injustices, including a growers’ arrangement with local law enforcement to round up blacks on vagrancy charges, then force them to work off their fines on select plantations.  Over the course of September a white mob put down the strike, killing 15 strikers in the process – 1891

Some 300 musicians working in Chicago movie houses strike to protest their impending replacement by talking movies – 1928

Twenty-five workers die, unable to escape a fire at the Imperial Poultry processing plant in Hamlet, N.C. Managers had locked fire doors to prevent the theft of chicken nuggets. The plant had operated for 11 years without a single safety inspection – 1991

September 04
Twelve thousand New York tailors strike over sweatshop conditions – 1894

More than 140 attendees at a benefit for a civil rights group are injured in the “Peekskill Riots” in Peekskill, N.Y.  The victims were among the 20,000 people leaving a concert featuring African-American Paul Robeson, well-known for his strong pro-unionism, civil rights activism and left-wing affiliations.  The departing concert-goers had to drive through a miles-long gauntlet of rock-throwing racists and others chanting “go on back to Russia, you niggers” and “white niggers” – 1949

Int’l Brotherhood of Bookbinders merged with Graphic Arts Int’l Union – 1972

In what many believe was to become the longest strike in U.S. history, 600 Teamster-represented workers walk out at the Diamond Walnut processing plant in Stockton, Calif., after the company refused to restore a 30-percent pay cut they had earlier taken to help out the company.  The two sides ultimately agreed to a new contract after 14 years – 1991
Click here for the complete posting.