Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition

September 09
In convention at Topeka, Kan., delegates create the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America. The men who repaired the nation’s rail cars were paid 10 or 15¢ an hour, working 12 hours a day, often seven days a week – 1890

More than a thousand Boston police officers strike after 19 union leaders are fired for organizing activities. Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge announced that none of the strikers would be rehired, mobilized the state police, and recruited an entirely new police force from among unemployed veterans of the Great War (World War I) – 1919

Sixteen striking Filipino sugar workers on the Hawaiian island of Kauai are killed by police; four police died as well. Many of the surviving strikers were jailed, then deported – 1924

United Auto Workers President Leonard Woodcock is named in Pres. Richard Nixon’s “Enemy’s List,” a White House compilation of Americans Nixon regarded as major political opponents.  Another dozen union presidents were added later.  The existence of the list was revealed during Senate Watergate Committee hearings – 1973

September 10
In Pennsylvania, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovak miners are gunned down by the Lattimer Mine’s sheriff deputies—19 dead, more than 50 wounded—during a peaceful march from Hazelton to Lattimer.   Some 3,000 were marching for collective bargaining and civil liberty.  The shooters were tried for murder but the jury failed to convict – 1897

September 11
Some 75,000 coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia end a 10-week strike after winning an 8-hour day, semi-monthly pay, and the abolition of overpriced company-owned stores, where they had been forced to shop. (Remember the song, “Sixteen Tons,” by coal miner’s son Merle Travis, in which there’s this line: “I owe my soul to the company store.”) – 1897

More than 3,000 people died when suicide highjackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.  Among the dead in New York were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell – 2001

Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life Norma Rae of the movies, dies at age 68. She worked at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., when low pay and poor working conditions led her to become a union activist – 2009
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