This week in labor history: June 27-July 3


1905 – The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the “Wobblies,” is founded at a 12-day-long convention in Chicago. The Wobbly motto: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
1935 – Congress passes the National Labor Relations Act, creating the structure for collective bargaining in the United States.
1985 – A 26-day strike of New York City hotels by 26,000 workers ends with a five-year contract calling for big wage and benefit gains.
1993 – A.E. Staley locks out 763 workers in Decatur, Ill. The lockout was to last two and a half years.

1894 – President Grover Cleveland signs legislation declaring Labor Day an official U.S. holiday.
1944 – A Liberty Ship named after the founding president of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers, is launched in Sausalito, Calif. She replaced a cargo steamship bearing Gompers’ name which had been torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese sub in the South Pacific the previous year.
1988 – The federal government sues the Teamsters to force reforms on the union, the nation’s largest. The following March, the government and the union sign a consent decree requiring direct election of the union’s president and creation of an Independent Review Board.

1885 – What is to be a seven-day streetcar strike begins in Chicago after several workers are unfairly fired. The strike was settled to the workers’ satisfaction.
1934 – An executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the National Labor Relations Board. A predecessor organization, the National Labor Board, established by the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933, had been struck down by the Supreme Court.
1936 – IWW strikes Weyerhauser and other Idaho lumber camps.
1987 – The newly formed Jobs With Justice stages its first big support action, backing 3,000 picketing Eastern Airlines mechanics at Miami Airport.
1988 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in CWA v. Beck that, in a union security agreement, a union can collect as dues from non-members only that money necessary to perform its duties as a collective bargaining representative.

1928 – Alabama outlaws the leasing of convicts to mine coal, a practice that had been in place since 1848. In 1898, 73 percent of the state’s total revenue came from this source. A quarter of all Black leased convicts died on the job.
1998 – Up to 40,000 New York construction workers demonstrate in midtown Manhattan, protesting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s awarding of a $33 million contract to a non-union company. Eighteen police and three demonstrators were injured.
2013 – Nineteen fire fighters die when they are overtaken by a wildfire they are battling in a forest northwest of Phoenix, Ariz. It was the deadliest wildfire involving fire fighters in the U.S. in at least 30 years.

1892 – Homestead, Pa., steel strike. Seven strikers and three Pinkertons are killed as Andrew Carnegie hires armed thugs to protect strikebreakers.
1922 – One million railway shopmen strike.
1929 – Some 1,100 streetcar workers strike in New Orleans, spurring the creation of the po’ boy sandwich by a local sandwich shop owner and one-time streetcar man. “Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming,” Bennie Martin later recalled, “one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’” Martin and his wife fed any striker who showed up.
1956 – In what was to be a month-long strike, 650,000 steelworkers shut down the industry while demanding a number of wage and working condition improvements. They won all their demands, including a union shop.
2001 – United American Nurses affiliate with the AFL-CIO.

1964 – President Johnson signs Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbidding employers and unions from discriminating based on race, color, gender, nationality, or religion.
2009 – The Labor Dept. reports that U.S. employers cut 467,000 jobs over the prior month, driving the nation’s unemployment rate up to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent.

1835 – Children, employed in the silk mills in Paterson, N.J., go on strike for an 11-hour day and six-day week. A compromise settlement resulted in a 69-hour workweek.
1860 – Feminist and Labor activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman is born in Hartford, Conn. Her landmark study, ‘Women and Economics,” was radical: it called for the financial independence of women and urged a network of childcare centers.

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


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