This Week In Labor History January 8-14

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JANUARY 8
1811 The largest slave revolt in U.S. history begins on Louisiana sugar plantations. Slaves armed with hand tools marched toward New Orleans, setting plantations and crops on fire, building their numbers to an estimated 300 to 500 as they went. The uprising lasted for two days before being brutally suppressed by the military.
1864 Birthdate of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, first AFL woman organizer.
1912 American Federation of Labor charters a Mining Department.
1920 The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee ends the “Great Steel Strike.” Some 350,000 to 400,000 steelworkers had been striking for more than three months, demanding union recognition. The strike failed.

JANUARY 9
1918 A Mediation Commission appointed by President Woodrow Wilson finds that “industry’s failure to deal with unions” is the prime reason for Labor strife in war industries.
1922 Eighty thousand Chicago construction workers strike.
1939 Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union leads Missouri Highway sit-down of 1,700 families. They had been evicted from their homes so landowners wouldn’t have to share government crop subsidy payments with them.
1954 Former Hawaii Territorial Gov. Ingram Steinbeck opposes statehood for Hawaii, saying left wing unions have an “economic stranglehold” on the islands. Hawaii was to be granted statehood five years later.
2003 The administration of George W. Bush declares federal airport security screeners will not be allowed to unionize so as not to “complicate” the war on terrorism. The decision was challenged and eventually overturned after Bush left office.

JANUARY 10
1860 In what is described as the worst industrial disaster in state history, the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, Mass., collapses, trapping 900 workers, mostly Irish women. More than 100 die, scores more injured in the collapse and ensuing fire. Too much machinery had been crammed into the building.
1914 Wobbly organizer and singer Joe Hill allegedly kills two men during a grocery store hold-up in Utah. He ultimately is executed by firing squad (His last word was “Fire!”) for the crime despite much speculation that he was framed.
2004 The Supreme Court lets stand implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement.

JANUARY 11
1912 The IWW-organized “Bread & Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children begins in Lawrence, Mass. It lasted 10 weeks and ended in victory.
1936 Nearly two weeks into a sit-down strike at GM’s Fisher Body Plant No. 2 in Flint, Mich., workers battle police when they try to prevent the strikers from receiving food deliveries from thousands of supporters on the outside. Sixteen strikers and spectators and 11 police were injured.
1995 National Hockey League owners end a player lockout that had gone for three months and 10 days. A key issue was owner insistence on a salary cap, which they won.

JANUARY 12
1919 Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson orders police to raid an open-air mass meeting of shipyard workers in an attempt to prevent a general strike. Workers were brutally beaten. The strike began the following month, with 60,000 workers walking out in solidarity with some 25,000 metal tradesmen.
1942 President Roosevelt creates the National War Labor Board to mediate Labor disputes during World War II.

JANUARY 13
1874 The original Tompkins Square Riot. As unemployed workers demonstrated in New York’s Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children with billy clubs.
1924 As the nation debates a constitutional amendment to rein in the widespread practice of brutally overworking children in factories and fields, U.S. District Judge G.W. McClintic expresses concern, instead, about child idleness.

JANUARY 14
1993 Clinton-era OSHA issues confined spaces standard to prevent more than 50 deaths and 5,000 serious injuries annually for workers who enter confined spaces.
2003 Some 14,000 General Electric employees strike for two days to protest the company’s mid-contract decision to shift an average of $400 in additional health care co-payments onto each worker.
2014 A 15-month lockout by the Minnesota Orchestra against members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union Local 30-73 ends when the musicians agree to a 15 percent pay cut (management wanted up to 40 percent) and increased health care cost sharing.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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