This week in labor history: August 3-9

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AUGUST 3
1913 Fighting breaks out when sheriff’s deputies attempt to arrest Wobbly leader Richie “Blackie” Ford as he addressed striking field workers at the Durst Ranch in Wheatland, Calif. Four people died, including the local district attorney, a deputy and two workers. Despite the lack of evidence against them, Ford and another strike leader were found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury that included eight farmers.
1986 Florence Reece dies in Knoxville, Tenn., at 86. She was a Mine Workers union activist and author of “Which Side Are You On?,” written after her home was ransacked by Harlan County Sheriff J.H. Blair and his thugs during a 1931 strike.
1981 Some 15,000 air traffic controllers strike. President Reagan threatens to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they “have forfeited their jobs” if they do not. Most stay out, and are fired Aug. 5.

AUGUST 4
1876 The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers is formed. It partnered with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, CIO in 1935; both organizations disbanded in 1942 to form the new United Steelworkers.
1919 An estimated 15,000 silk workers strike in Paterson, N.J., for 44-hour week.
1997 Nearly 185,000 Teamsters begin what is to become a successful 15-day strike at United Parcel Service over excessive use of part-timers.

AUGUST 5
1931 Using clubs, police rout 1,500 jobless men who had stormed the plant of the Fruit Growers Express Co. in Indiana Harbor, Ind., demanding jobs.
1949 Thirteen fire fighters, including 12 smokejumpers who parachuted in to help their coworkers, die while battling a forest fire at Gates of the Mountain, Mont.
1993 The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect today. The first law signed by President Clinton, it allows many workers time off each year due to serious health conditions or to care for a family member.

AUGUST 6
2011 Some 45,000 CWA and IBEW-represented workers at Verizon begin what is to be a two-week strike, refusing to accept more than 100 concession demands by the telecommunications giant.

AUGUST 7
1894 Eugene Debs and three other trade unionists arrested after Pullman Strike.
1919 Actors Equity is recognized by producers after stagehands honor their picket lines, shutting down almost every professional stage production in the country. Before unionizing, it was common practice for actors to pay for their own costumes, rehearse long hours without pay, and be fired without notice.
1983 Some 675,000 employees struck ATT Corp. over wages, job security, pension plan changes and better health insurance. It was the last time CWA negotiated at one table for all its Bell System members: divestiture came a few months later. The strike was won after 22 days.
1988 Television writers, members of The Writers Guild of America, end a 22-week strike with a compromise settlement.
2018 Missouri voters go to the polls to overwhelmingly overturn a “Right-to-Work” measure approved by the state’s Republican legislature and governor in February, 18 months earlier.

AUGUST 8
1902 Delegates to the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly elect 35-year-old Charles James, leader of the Boot and Shoe Workers local union, as their president. He was the first African-American elected to that leadership post in St. Paul, and, many believe, the first anywhere in the nation.
1903 Cripple Creek, Colo., miners strike begins.
1994 Cesar Chavez is posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton, becoming the first Mexican-American ever to receive the honor.

AUGUST 9
1890 Knights of Labor strike New York Central railroad, ultimately to be defeated by scabbing.
1927 Nine men and one woman meet in Oakland, Calif., to form what was to become the 230,000-member California School Employees Association, representing school support staff throughout the state.
1965 A fire and resultant loss of oxygen when a high pressure hydraulic line was cut with a torch in a Titan missile silo near Searcy, Ark., kills 53 people, mostly civilian repairmen.
1998 Some 73,000 Bell Atlantic workers end a successful two-day strike over wages and limits on contracting out of work.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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