This week in labor history: April 24-30

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APRIL 25
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 Rev. 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.

APRIL 26
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.

APRIL 27
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.

APRIL 28
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.

APRIL 29
1894 – Coxey’s Army of 500 unemployed civil war veterans reaches Washington, D.C.
1899 – An estimated 1,000 silver miners, angry over low wages, the firing of union members and the planting of spies in their ranks by mineowners, seize a train, load it with 3,000 pounds of dynamite, and blow up the mill at the Bunker Hill mine in Wardner, Idaho.
1943 – The special representative of the National War Labor Board issues a report, “Retroactive Date for Women’s Pay Adjustments,” setting forth provisions for wage rates for women working in war industries who were asking for equal pay. Women a year earlier had demanded equal pay for comparable work as that done by men.

APRIL 30
1927 – An explosion at the Everettville mine in Everettville, W. Va., kills 109 miners, many of whom lie in unmarked graves to this day.
2012 – The Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board implements new rules to speed up unionization elections. The new rules are largely seen as a counter to employer manipulation of the law to prevent workers from unionizing.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder of Union Communication Services)

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