1875 – Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and civil rights activist, born.
1894 – Some 14,000 federal and state troops finally succeed in putting down the strike against the Pullman Palace Car Co., which had been peaceful until July 5, when federal troops intervened in Chicago, against the repeated protests of the governor and Chicago’s mayor. A total of 34 American Railway Union members were killed by troops over the course of the strike.
1902 – A powerful explosion rips through the Rolling Mill coal mine in Johnstown, Pa., killing 112 miners, 83 of whom were immigrants from Poland and Slovakia.
1916 – The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce holds a mass meeting of more than 2,000 merchants to organize what was to become a frontal assault on union strength and the closed shop. The failure of wages to keep up with inflation after the 1906 earthquake had spurred multiple strikes in the city.
1946 – Sidney Hillman dies at age 59. He led the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, was a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and was a close advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1892 – Striking coal miners in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, dynamite barracks housing Pinkerton management thugs.
1936 – After seven years of labor by as many as 2,800 construction workers, the Triborough Bridge opens in New York. Actually a complex of three bridges, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. Construction began on Black Friday, 1929, and New Deal money turned it into one of the largest public works projects of the Great Depression.
1983 – A nine-year strike begins at the Ohio Crankshaft Division of Park-Ohio Industries in Cleveland. Overcoming scabs, arrests and firings, UAW Local 91 members hung on and approved a contract in 1992 with the company—now under new management—that included company-funded health and retirement benefits, as well as pay increases.
1917 – Bisbee, Ariz., deports Wobblies; 1,186 miners sent into desert in manure-laden boxcars. They had been fighting for improved safety and working conditions.
1933 – The Screen Actors Guild holds its first meeting. Among those attending, future horror movie star (Frankenstein’s Monster) and union activist Boris Karloff.
1934 – Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union organized in Tyronza, Ark.
1995 – Detroit newspaper workers begin 19-month strike against Gannett, Knight-Ridder. The strike was to become a lockout, which lasted four years more.
1877 – The first national strike started at Baltimore’s Camden Yards Station when workers on the B & O Railroad refused to work after a 10 percent wage cut. Eventually involving hundreds of thousands of workers and allies across the U.S., the strike was crushed by federal troops called to action by President Hayes.
1921 – Italian immigrants and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Massachusetts of murder and payroll robbery — unfairly, most historians agree — after a two-month trial, and are eventually executed. Fifty years after their deaths the state’s governor issued a proclamation saying they had been treated unfairly and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”
1917 – Some 50,000 lumberjacks strike for an eight-hour day.
1931 – Ralph Gray, an African-American sharecropper and leader of the Share Croppers Union, is murdered in Camp Hill, Ala.
1959 – A half-million steelworkers begin what is to become a 116-day strike that shutters nearly every steel mill in the country. Management wanted to dump contract language limiting its ability to change the number of workers assigned to a task or to introduce new work rules or machinery that would result in reduced hours or fewer employees.
1919 – Ten thousand workers strike Chicago’s Int’l Harvester operations.
1920 – Martial law declared in strike by longshoremen in Galveston, Texas.
1934 – San Francisco Longshoremen’s strike spreads, becomes four-day general strike.
(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)