This week in labor history: January 30-February 5


1882 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was elected president of the United States four times starting in 1932. His New Deal programs helped America survive the Great Depression. His legislative achievements included the creation of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to organize unions, bargain collectively, and strike.

1938 Some 12,000 pecan shellers in San Antonio, Texas — mostly Latino women — walk off their jobs at 400 factories in what was to become a three-month strike against wage cuts. Strike leader Emma Tenayuca was eventually hounded out of the state.
1978 After scoring successes with representation elections conducted under the protective oversight of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the United Farm Workers of America officially ends its historic table grape, lettuce and wine boycotts.


1864 Led by 23-year-old Kate Mullany, the Collar Laundry Union forms in Troy, N.Y., and raises earnings for female laundry workers from $2 to $14 a week.
1867 Bricklayers begin working eight-hour days.
1913 – Some 25,000 Paterson, N.J., silk workers strike for an eight-hour work day and improved working conditions. Eighteen hundred were arrested over the course of the six-month walkout, led by the Wobblies. They returned to work on their employers’ terms.

1917 Three hundred newsboys organize to protest a cut in pay by the Minneapolis Tribune.
1977 – Legal secretary Iris Rivera fired for refusing to make coffee, secretaries across Chicago protest.
1987 The 170-day lockout (although management called it a strike) of 22,000 steelworkers by USX Corp. ends with a pay cut but greater job security. It was the longest work stoppage in the history of the U.S. steel industry.

1908 The U.S. Supreme Court rules the United Hatters Union violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by organizing a nationwide boycott of Danbury Hatters of Connecticut.
1941 U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act banning child labor and establishing the 40-hour work week.
1971 An explosion at a Thiokol chemical plant near Woodbine, Ga. kills 29 workers, and seriously injures 50. An investigation found that contributing factors to the explosion were mislabeled chemicals, poor storage procedures and insufficient fire protection.

1932 Unemployment demonstrations take place in major U.S. cities.
1937 Thirty-seven thousand maritime workers on the West Coast strike for wage increases.
2009 President Barack Obama imposes $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with “executives being rewarded for failure.”

1830 First daily labor newspaper, N.Y. Daily Sentinel, begins publication.
1993 President Bill Clinton signs the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law requires most employers of 50 or more workers to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a family or medical emergency.

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


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