This Week in Labor History April 22-28

2011 Songwriter, musician and activist Hazel Dickens dies at age 75. Among her songs: “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” and “Working Girl Blues.” Cultural blogger John Pietaro wrote: “Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of Labor, she lived them. Her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause.”

1956 – The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is founded through a merger of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) and the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL), the two major union congresses in Canada at the time.  The CLC represents the interests of more than three million affiliated workers.
1980 Death of Ida Mae Stull, nationally recognized as the country’s first woman coal miner.
1993 – United Farm Workers of America founder Cesar Chavez dies in San Luis, Arizona, at age 66.

1886 – The New York Times declares the struggle for an eight-hour workday to be “un-American” and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours “Labor disturbances brought about by foreigners.” Other publications declare that an eight-hour workday would bring about “loafing and gambling, rioting, debauchery and drunkenness.”
1923 IWW Marine Transport Workers begin West Coast strike.
1969 The Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and 100 others are arrested while picketing a Charleston, S.C., hospital in a demand for union recognition.
1978 Supreme Court rules that employers may not require female employees to make larger contributions to pension plans in order to obtain the same monthly benefits as men.

1924 The U.S. House of Representatives passes House Joint Resolution No. 184, a constitutional amendment to prohibit the labor of persons under 18 years of age. The Senate approved the measure a few weeks later, but it was never ratified by the states and is still technically pending.
1944 – On the orders of President Roosevelt, the U.S. Army seizes the Chicago headquarters of the unionized Montgomery Ward & Co. after management defies the National Labor Relations Board.

1825 First strike for 10-hour day, by Boston carpenters.
1911 James Oppenheim’s poem “Bread and Roses” published in IWW newspaper Industrial Solidarity.
1953 President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed “sexual perversion” as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants.
1978 A cooling tower for a power plant under construction in Willow Island, W. Va. collapses, killing 51 construction workers in what is thought to be the largest construction accident in U.S. history.  OSHA cited contractors for 20 violations, including failures to field test concrete. The cases were settled for $85,000 — about $1,700 per worker killed.

1914 Coal mine collapses at Eccles, W.Va., killing 181 workers.
1924 A total of 119 die in Benwood, W.Va., coal mine disaster.
1971 Congress creates OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The AFL-CIO sets April 28 as “Workers Memorial Day” to honor all workers killed or injured on the job every year.
1993 First “Take Our Daughters to Work Day,” promoted by the Ms. Foundation, to boost self-esteem of girls with invitations to a parent’s workplace.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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