1935 – President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, providing, for the first time ever, guaranteed income for retirees and creating a system of unemployment benefits.
1980 – Members of the upstart Polish union Solidarity seize the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. Sixteen days later the government officially recognizes the union. Many consider the event the beginning of the end for the Iron Curtain.
1914 – The Panama Canal opens after 33 years of construction and an estimated 22,000 worker deaths, mostly caused by malaria and yellow fever. The 51-mile canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
1935 – Populist social commentator Will Rogers killed in a plane crash, Point Barrow, Ala. One of his many classic lines: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
1971 – President Richard M. Nixon announces a 90-day freeze on wages, prices and rents in an attempt to combat inflation.
1989 – Gerry Horgan, chief steward of CWA Local 1103 and NYNEX striker in Valhalla, N.Y., is struck on the picket line by a car driven by the daughter of a plant manager and dies the following day.
2008 – Eight automotive department employees at a Walmart near Ottawa won an arbitrator-imposed contract after voting for UFCW representation, becoming the giant retailer’s only location in North America with a collective bargaining agreement. Two months later the company closed the department. Three years earlier Walmart had closed an entire store on the same day the government announced an arbitrator would impose a contract agreement there.
1894 – George Meany, plumber, first AFL-CIO president, born in City Island, Bronx.
1937 – Congress passes the National Apprenticeship Act, establishing a national advisory committee to research and draft regulations establishing minimum standards for apprenticeship programs. It was later amended to permit the Labor Department to issue regulations protecting the health, safety and general welfare of apprentices, and to encourage the use of contracts in their hiring and employment.
1918 – IWW War Trials in Chicago, 95 go to prison for up to 20 years.
1985 – Year-long Hormel meatpackers’ strike begins in Austin, Minn.
1927 – Radio station WEVD, named for Eugene V. Debs, goes on the air in New York City, operated by The Forward Association as a memorial to the Labor and socialist leader.
1917 – Some 2,000 United Railroads streetcar service workers and supporters parade down San Francisco’s Market Street in support of pay demands and against the company’s anti-union policies. The strike failed in late November in the face of more than 1,000 strikebreakers, some of them imported from Chicago.
1983 – Phelps-Dodge copper miners in Morenci and Clifton, Ariz., are confronted by tanks, helicopters, 426 state troopers and 325 National Guardsmen brought in to walk strikebreakers through picket lines in what was to become a failed three-year fight by the Steelworkers and other unions.
2005 – Some 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians, members of AMFA at Northwest Airlines, strike the carrier over job security, pay cuts and work rule changes. The 14-month strike failed, with most union jobs lost to replacements and outside contractors.
1910 – The Great Fire of 1910, a wildfire that consumed about three million acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana — an area about the size of Connecticut — claimed the lives of 78 fire fighters over two days. It is believed to be the largest, although not deadliest, fire in U.S. history.
1986 – Deranged relief postal service carrier Patrick “Crazy Pat” Henry Sherrill shoots and kills 14 coworkers, and wounds another six, before killing himself at an Edmond, Okla., postal facility. Supervisors had ignored warning signs of Sherrill’s instability, investigators later found; the shootings came a day after he had been reprimanded for poor work. The incident inspired the objectionable term “going postal.”
(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)