This week in labor history: July 27-August 2

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JULY 27
1869 William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died.

JULY 28
1869 Women shoemakers in Lynn, Mass., create Daughters of St. Crispin, demand pay equal to that of men.
1901 Harry Bridges is born in Australia. He came to America as a sailor at age 19 and went on to help form and lead the militant Int’l Longshore and Warehouse Union for more than 40 years.
1913 A strike by Paterson, N.J., silk workers for an eight-hour day, improved working conditions ends after six months, with the workers’ demands unmet. During the course of the strike, approximately 1,800 strikers were arrested, including Wobbly leaders Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
1932 Federal troops burn the shantytown built near the U.S. Capitol by thousands of unemployed WWI veterans, camping there to demand a bonus they had been promised but never received.
2002 Nine miners are rescued in Sommerset, Pa., after being trapped for 77 hours 240 feet underground in the flooded Quecreek Mine.

JULY 29
1903 A preliminary delegation from Mother Jones’ March of the Mill Children from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, publicizing the harsh conditions of child labor, arrives today. They are not allowed through the gates.
1956 Nineteen fire fighters die while responding to a blaze at the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corp. refinery in Sun Ray, Texas.
1970 Following a five-year table grape boycott, Delano-area growers file into the United Farm Workers union hall in Delano, Calif., to sign their first union contracts.

JULY 30
1965 President Lyndon Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965, establishing Medicare and Medicaid.
1975 Former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappears. Declared legally dead in 1982, his body has never been found.
1999 United Airlines agrees to offer domestic-partner benefits to employees and retirees worldwide.

JULY 31
1970 Members of the National Football League Players Association begin what is to be a two-day strike, their first. The issues: pay, pensions, the right to arbitration and the right to have agents.

1981 Fifty-day baseball strike ends.
1999 The Great Shipyard Strike of 1999 ends after Steelworkers at Newport News Shipbuilding ratify a breakthrough agreement which nearly doubles pensions, increases security, ends inequality, and provides the highest wage increases in company and industry history to nearly 10,000 workers at the yard. The strike lasted 15 weeks.

AUGUST 1
1917 After organizing a strike of metal miners against the Anaconda Company, Wobbly organizer Frank Little is dragged by six masked men from his Butte, Mont., hotel room and hung from the Milwaukee Railroad trestle. Years later writer Dashiell Hammett would recall his early days as a Pinkerton detective agency operative and recount how a mine company representative offered him $5,000 to kill Little. Hammett says he quit the business that night.
1921 Sid Hatfield, police chief of Matewan, W. Va., a longtime supporter of the United Mine Workers union, is murdered by company goons. This soon led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, a labor uprising also referred to as the Red Neck War.
1938 Police in Hilo, Hawaii, open fire on 200 demonstrators supporting striking waterfront workers. The attack became known as “the Hilo Massacre.”
1944 A 17-day, company-instigated wildcat strike in Philadelphia tries to bar eight African-American trolley operators from working. Transport Workers Union members stay on the job in support of the men.
1956 Government & Civic Employees Organizing Committee merges into State, County & Municipal Employees.
1997 Ten-month strike against Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel wins agreement guaranteeing defined-benefit pensions for 4,500 Steelworkers.
2001 California School Employees Association affiliates with AFL-CIO.

AUGUST 2
1918 The first General Strike in Canadian history is held in Vancouver, organized as a one-day political protest against the killing of draft evader and Labor activist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, who had called for a general strike in the event that any worker was drafted against his will.
1939 Hatch Act is passed, limiting political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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