This week in labor history: December 9-15

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DECEMBER 9
2001 – Ratification of a new labor agreement at Titan Tire of Natchez, Miss., ends the longest strike in the history of the U.S. tire industry, which began May 1, 1998, at the company’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant.

DECEMBER 10
1906 – First sit-down strike in U.S. called by IWW at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y.
1948 – Int’l Human Rights Day, commemorating the signing at the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part: “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”
1956 – American Federation of Teachers Local 89 in Atlanta, Ga., disaffiliates from the national union because of an AFT directive that all its locals integrate. A year later, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to do so.
1970 – Cesar Chavez jailed for 14 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers’ lettuce boycott.

DECEMBER 11
1886 – A small group of black farmers organize the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union in Houston County, Texas. They had been barred from membership in the all-white Southern Farmers’ Alliance. Through intensive organizing, along with merging with another black farmers group, the renamed Colored Alliance by 1891 claimed a membership of 1.2 million.
1951 – Ten days after an Illinois State mine inspector approved coal dust removal techniques at New Orient mine in West Frankfort, the mine exploded, apparently due to accumulated methane gas, killing 119 workers.
1995 – Forty thousand workers go on general strike in London, Ontario — a city with a population of 300,000 — protesting cuts in social services.
2012 – Michigan becomes the 24th state to adopt “right-to-work” legislation. The Republican-dominated state Senate introduced two measures — one covering private workers, the other covering public workers — by surprise five days earlier and immediately voted their passage; the Republican House approved them five days later (the fastest it legally could) and the Republican governor immediately signed both bills.

DECEMBER 12
2006 – A U.S. immigration sweep of six Swift meat plants results in arrests of nearly 1,300 undocumented workers.

DECEMBER 13
1924 – Death in San Antonio, Texas, of Samuel Gompers, president and founder of the American Federation of Labor.

DECEMBER 14
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.

DECEMBER 15
1913 – AFL convention passes a one-cent per capita assessment to aid the organization of women workers (Exact date uncertain).
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 – Meeting in its biennial convention, the AFL-CIO declares “unstinting support” for “measures the Administration might deem necessary to halt Communist aggression and secure a just and lasting peace” in Vietnam.
1967 – The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone aged 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.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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