This week in labor history: December 23-29

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DECEMBER 23
1908 – AFL officers are found in contempt of court for urging a Labor boycott of Buck’s Stove and Range Co. in St Louis, where the Metal Polishers were striking for a nine-hour day.
1970 – Construction workers top out the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 1,368 feet, making it the tallest building in the world.
2008 – Walmart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest employer, with 1.4 million “associates,” agrees to settle 63 wage and hour suits across the U.S., for a grand total of between $352 million and $640 million. It was accused of failure to pay overtime, requiring off-the-clock work, and failure to provide required meal and rest breaks.

DECEMBER 24
1913 – Seventy-two copper miners’ children die in panic caused by a company stooge at Calumet, Mich., who shouted “fire” up the stairs into a crowded hall where the children had gathered. They were crushed against closed doors when they tried to flee.

DECEMBER 25
1910 – A dynamite bomb destroys a portion of the Llewellyn Ironworks in Los Angeles, where a bitter strike was in progress.
1967 – Fourteen servicemen from military bases across the U.S., led by Pvt. Andrew Stapp, form The American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). The union, which never came close to being recognized by the government, in its heyday during the Viet Nam war claimed tens of thousands of members and had chapters at bases, on ships and in Vietnam. ASU demands included the right to elect officers.

 

DECEMBER 26
1869 – Knights of Labor founded. Constitution bars from membership “parasites,” including stockbrokers and lawyers.
1877 – Workingmen’s Party is reorganized as the Socialist Labor Party.

DECEMBER 27
1943 – President Roosevelt seizes the railroads to avert a nationwide strike. His decision to temporarily place the railroads under the “supervision” of the War Department prompts the five railroad brotherhoods to agree to his offer to arbitrate the wage dispute.

DECEMBER 28
1865 – The coffee percolator is patented by James H. Mason of Franklin, Mass., placing himself forever in the debt of millions of caffeine-dependent working people.
1936 – Auto workers begin sit-down strike for union recognition at GM’s Fisher Body plant in Cleveland.
1952 – Country music legend Hank Williams attends what is to be his last Musicians’ Union meeting, at the Elite (pronounced E-light) café in Montgomery, Ala. He died of apparent heart failure three days later while riding in the back seat of a car driving from Bristol, Va. to what was to have been a New Year’s Day concert in Canton, Ohio. He was 29.

DECEMBER 29
1970 – After years of intensive lobbying by the Labor Movement, a comprehensive national safety law is enacted as President Nixon signs the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, creating the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
2006 – More than 15,000 United Steel Workers members at 16 Goodyear Tire & Rubber plants end an 86-day strike, ratify three-year contract.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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