This week in labor history: April 27 – May 3


1825 First strike for 10-hour day, by Boston carpenters.
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.

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 mine owners, seize a train, load it with 3,000 pounds of dynamite, and blow up the mill at the Bunker Hill mine in Wardner, Idaho.

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.

1830 Mary Harris “Mother” Jones born in County Cork, Ireland.
1883 Cigar makers in Cincinnati warn there could be a strike in the fall if factory owners continue to insist that they pay 30¢ per month for gas heat provided at work during mornings and evenings.
1886 Eight-hour day demonstrations in Chicago and other cities begins tradition of May Day as international Labor holiday.
1901 The Cooks’ and Waiters’ Union strikes in San Francisco, demanding one day of rest per week, a 10-hour workday and a union shop for all restaurants in the city.

1933 German police units occupied all trade unions headquarters in the country, arresting union officials and leaders. Their treasuries were confiscated, and the unions abolished. Hitler announced that the German Labour Front, headed by his appointee, would replace all unions and look after the working class.
1972 A fire at the Sunshine silver mine in Kellogg, Idaho, caused the deaths of 91 workers who died from carbon monoxide poisoning, likely caused by toxic fumes emitted by burning polyurethane foam, used as a fire retardant.

1886 Four striking workers are killed, at least 200 wounded, when police attack a demonstration on Chicago’s south side at the McCormick Harvesting Machine plant. The Haymarket Massacre is to take place the following day.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)


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