This week in labor history: December 13-19


1924 Death in San Antonio, Texas, of Samuel Gompers, president and founder of the American Federation of Labor.

1995 Some 33,000 striking members of the Machinists end a 69-day walkout at Boeing after winning pay and benefit increases and protections against subcontracting some of their work overseas.

1913 AFL convention passes a one-cent per capita assessment to aid the organization of women workers.
1921 The Kansas National Guard is called out to subdue from 2,000 to 6,000 protesting women who were going from mine to mine attacking non-striking miners in the Pittsburg coal fields. The women made headlines across the state and the nation.  They were christened the “Amazon Army” by the New York Times.
1941 Eight days after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, the AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related plants for the duration of World War II.
1967 The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone age 40 or older.
2003 California’s longest nurses’ strike ended after workers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and Pinole approved a new contract with Tenet Healthcare Corp., ending a 13-month walkout.
2005 Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union organizer Clinton Jencks, who led New Mexico zinc miners in the strike depicted in the classic 1954 movie “Salt of the Earth,” dies of natural causes in San Diego at age 87.

1900 The National Civic Federation is formed by business and Labor leaders, most prominently AFL president Sam Gompers, as a vehicle to resolve conflicts between management and Labor. Not all unionists agreed with the alliance. The group turned increasingly conservative and Labor withdrew after Gompers’ 1924 death.
1902 New York City’s Majestic Theater becomes first in the U.S. to employ women ushers.
1951 The Bagel Bakers of America union continues a work slowdown at 32 of New York’s 34 bagel bakeries in a dispute over health and welfare fund payments and workplace sanitation, the New York Times reports. Coincidentally –– or not —lox sales were down 30 percent to 50 percent as well. The effect on the cream cheese market was not reported.
1968 Four railway unions merge to become the United Transportation Union: Trainmen, Firemen & Enginemen, Switchmen, and Conductors and Brakemen.
1977 Eight female bank tellers in Willmar, Minn., begin the first strike against a bank in U.S. history. At issue: they were paid little more than half what male tellers were paid. The strike ended in moral victory but economic defeat two years later.

1996 Int’l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers merges with United Steelworkers of America.

1991 General Motors announces it is closing 21 North American plants over the following four years and slashing tens of thousands of jobs.

1907 An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland Co., Pa., kills 239 coal miners. Seventy-one of the dead share a common grave in Olive Branch Cemetery. December 1907 was the worst month in U.S. coal mining history, with more than 3,000 dead.
1983 A 47-day strike at Greyhound Bus Lines ends with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union accepting a new contract containing deep cuts in wages and benefits. Striker Ray Phillips died during the strike, run over on a picket line by a scab Greyhound trainee.
1984 Twenty-six men and one woman are killed in the Wilberg Coal Mine Disaster near Orangeville, Utah. The disaster has been termed the worst coal mine fire in the state’s history. Federal mine safety officials issued 34 safety citations after the disaster but had inspected the mine only days before and declared it safe.

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


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