This Week in Labor History April 1-7

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APRIL 1
1898 United Mine Workers of America win eight-hour day.
1929 Strike of cotton mill workers begins in Gastonia, N.C. During the strike, police raided the strikers’ tent colony; the chief of police was killed. The strike leaders were framed for murder and convicted, but later freed.
1946 Some 400,000 members of the United Mine Workers strike for higher wages and employer contributions to the union’s health and welfare fund. President Truman seizes the mines.
1972 Major league baseball players begin what is to become a 13-day strike, ending when owners agree to increase pension fund payments and to add salary arbitration to the collective bargaining agreement.
1992 Players begin the first strike in the 75-year history of the National Hockey League. They win major improvements in the free agency system and other areas of conflict, and end the walkout after 10 days.

APRIL 2
1909 The Union Label Trades Department is chartered by the American Federation of Labor.
1923 The Supreme Court declares unconstitutional a 1918 Washington, D.C., law establishing a minimum wage for women.
1995 Major league baseball players end a 232-day strike, which began the prior Aug. 12 and led to the cancellation of the 1994 post-season and the World Series.

APRIL 3
1954 UAW Local 833 strikes the Kohler bathroom fixtures company in Kohler, Wisc. The strike ends six years later after Kohler is found guilty of refusing to bargain, agrees to reinstate 1,400 strikers and pay them $4.5 million in back pay and pension credits.
1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to Memphis to stand with striking AFSCME sanitation workers. This evening, he delivers his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in a church packed with union members and others. He is assassinated the following day.

APRIL 4
1907 The first issue of The Labor Review, a “weekly magazine for organized workers,” was published in Minneapolis.
1914 Unemployed riot in New York City’s Union Square.
1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, where he had been supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.
1989 Some 1,700 United Mine Workers members in Virginia and West Virginia beat back concessions demanded by Pittston Coal Co.

APRIL 5
2001 Some 14,000 teachers strike Hawaii schools, colleges.
2010 A huge underground explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W. Va., kills 29 miners. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. The Massey Energy Co. mine had been cited for two safety infractions the day before the blast; 57 the month before, and 1,342 in the previous five years. Six years later Massey’s CEO at the time of the disaster, Don Blankenship, was sentenced to one year in jail.

APRIL 6
1712 The first slave revolt in the U.S. occurs at a slave market in New York City’s Wall Street area. Twenty-one Blacks were executed for killing nine Whites. The city responded by strengthening its slave codes.
1882 Birth of Rose Schneiderman, prominent member of the New York Women’s Trade Union League.
2006 What was to become a two-month strike by minor league umpires begins, largely over money: $5,500 to $15,000 for a season running 142 games. The strike ended with a slight improvement in pay.

APRIL 7
1947 National Labor Relations Board attorney tells ILWU members to “lie down like good dogs,” Juneau, Alaska.
1947 Some 300,000 members of the National Federation of Telephone Workers, soon to become CWA, strike AT&T and the Bell System. Within five weeks all but two of the 39 federation unions had won new contracts.
2000 Fifteen thousand union janitors strike, Los Angeles.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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