Today in Labor History: Weekend Edition

February 03
The U.S. Supreme Court rules the United Hatters Union violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by organizing a nationwide boycott of Danbury Hatters of Connecticut – 1908

U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act banning child labor and establishing the 40-hour work week – 1941

An explosion at a Thiokol chemical plant near Woodbine, Georgia kills 29 workers, seriously injures 50.  An investigation found that contributing factors to the explosion were mislabeled chemicals, poor storage procedures and insufficient fire protection – 1971

February 04
The Ohio legislature authorizes construction of the 249-mile Miami and Erie Canal, to connect Toledo to Cincinnati.  Local historians say “Irish immigrants, convicts and local farmers used picks, shovels and wheelbarrows,” at 30 cents per day, to construct the 249-mile-long waterway – 1825

“Big Bill” Haywood born in Salt Lake City, Utah: Leader of Western Federation of Miners, Wobblies (IWW) founder – 1869

Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a White man launched the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and the birth of the civil rights movement, is born in Tuskeege, Ala. – 1913

Unemployment demonstrations take place in major U.S. cities – 1932

Thirty-seven thousand maritime workers on the West Coast strike for wage increases – 1937

President Barack Obama imposes $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with “executives being rewarded for failure” – 2009

February 05
First daily labor newspaper, N.Y. Daily Sentinel, begins publication – 1830
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The movie Modern Times premieres. The tale of the tramp (Charlie Chaplin) and his paramour (Paulette Goddard) mixed slapstick comedy and social satire, as the couple struggled to overcome the difficulties of the machine age including unemployment and nerve-wracking factory work, and get along in modern times – 1937

President Bill Clinton signs the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The law requires most employers of 50 or more workers to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a family or medical emergency – 1993

In what turns out to be a bad business decision, Circuit City fires 3,900 experienced sales people because they’re making too much in commissions. Sales plummet. Six years later it declares bankruptcy – 2003

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