1903 – Int’l Hod Carriers & Building Laborers’ Union (today’s Laborers’ Int’l Union) is founded, as 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities—representing 8,186 Laborers—meet in Washington, D.C.
1930 – A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa leads his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Indiana, in a successful job action. By refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands. Among other things: the “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32 cents an hour — only if growers arrived with berries to unload. Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger.
1919 – Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs is imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I. While in jail he ran for president, received one million votes.
2018 – Teaching and research assistants at Harvard University vote to join the United Auto Workers.
1930 – More than 100 Mexican and Filipino farm workers are arrested for union activities, Imperial Valley, Calif. Eight were convicted of “criminal syndicalism.”
1939 – John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath published.
2005 – The United Steelworkers and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers unions merge to form the largest industrial union in North America.
1889 – A. Philip Randolph, civil rights leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, born in Crescent City, Fla.
1912 – Eight members of the Musicians union die in the sinking of the Titanic. According to survivors, they played their instruments until nearly the end. Five weeks later a concert organized by the union to benefit the musicians’ families, held in a theater donated for the evening by impresario Flo Ziegfeld, featured the talents of 500 musicians. The evening ended with a rendering of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” the hymn being played as the ship went down. The union at the time was called the Musical Mutual Protective Union Local 310, the New York affiliate of the American Federation of Musicians.
1915 – IWW union Agricultural Workers Organization formed in Kansas City, Mo.
1916 – Teacher unionists gather at the City Club on Plymouth Court in Chicago to form a new national union: the American Federation of Teachers.
1919 – Start of ultimately successful six-day strike across New England by one of the earliest women-led American unions, the Telephone Operators Department of IBEW.
1955 – The first McDonald’s restaurant opens, in Des Plaines, Ill., setting the stage years later for sociologist Amitai Etzioni to coin the term “McJob.” As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, a McJob is “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector.”
1916 – Employers lock out 25,000 New York City garment workers in a dispute over hiring practices. The Int’l Ladies’ Garment Workers Union calls a general strike; after 14 weeks, 60,000 strikers win union recognition and the contractual right to strike.
1947 – Five hundred workers in Texas City, Texas die in a series of huge oil refinery and chemical plant explosions and fires.
2000 – An estimated 20,000 global justice activists blockade Washington, D.C., meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
1905 – The Supreme Court holds that a maximum-hours law for New York bakery workers is unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 14th amendment.
2013 – An explosion at a west Texas fertilizer plant kills 15 people and injures nearly 300 when 30 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate—stored in sheds without sprinkler systems — catches fire. Of those killed, ten were emergency responders.
1912 – West Virginia coal miners strike, defend selves against National Guard.
1941 – After a four-week boycott led by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., bus companies in New York City agree to hire 200 Black drivers and mechanics.
1911 – In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the nation’s “Furniture City,” more than 6,000 immigrant workers — Germans, Dutch, Lithuanians and Poles — put down their tools and strick 59 factories, for four months, in what was to become known as the Great Furniture Strike.
1995 – An American domestic terrorist’s bomb destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, 99 of whom were government employees.
(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)