This week in labor history: June 3 – 9

1900 – Int’l Ladies Garment Workers Union founded.
1918 – A federal child labor law, enacted two years earlier, is declared unconstitutional.
1935 – More than 1,000 Canadian men, working at “Royal Twenty Centers” established by the Canadian government to provide work for single, unemployed homeless males during the Great Depression, begin an “On to Ottawa Trek” to protest conditions at the camps. They were being paid 20 cents a day plus food and shelter to build roads, plant trees and construct public buildings.

1912 – Massachusetts becomes the first state to establish a minimum wage.
1947 – The House of Representatives approves the Taft-Hartley Act. The legislation allows the president of the United States to intervene in labor disputes. President Truman vetoed the law but was overridden by Congress.
1956 – The AFL-CIO opens its new headquarters building, in view of the White House.
1975 – Gov. Jerry Brown signs the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the first law in the U.S. giving farmworkers collective bargaining rights. The legislation came after years of effort by the United Farm Workers union.

1976 – Thirty-five members of the Teamsters, concerned about the infiltration of organized crime in the union and other issues, meet in Cleveland to form Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
1998 – A strike begins at a General Motors Corp. parts factory in Flint, MI, that spreads and ultimately forces the closure of GM plants across the country for seven weeks. The Flint workers were protesting the removal of key dies from their plant and feared their jobs would be lost. The company ended the dispute by assuring the plant would remain open until at least the year 2000.

1933 – The U.S. Employment Service is created.
1937 – A general strike by some 12,000 autoworkers and others in Lansing, MI shuts down the city for a month in what was to become known as the city’s “Labor Holiday.” The strike was precipitated by the arrest of nine workers, including the wife of the auto workers local union president: The arrest left three children in the couple’s home unattended.
1948 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman and American Federation of Musicians President James Petrillo perform a piano duet at the union’s convention in Asbury Park, NJ.
1996 – Labor Party founding convention opens in Cleveland, OH.

1904 – Militia sent to Cripple Creek, CO, to suppress Western Federation of Miners strike.
1913 – Sole performance of Pageant of the Paterson (N.J.) Strike, created and performed by 1,000 mill workers from the silk industry strike, New York City.
1929 – Striking textile workers battle police in Gastonia, NC Police Chief O.F. Aderholt is accidentally killed by one of his own officers. Six strike leaders are convicted of “conspiracy to murder” and are sentenced to jail for from five to 20 years.
1979 – Founding convention of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The merger brought together the Retail Clerks Int’l Union and the Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen of North America.
2006 – The United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club announce the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World.

1904 – A battle between the militia and striking miners at Dunnville, CO, ends with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. Seventy-nine of the strikers were deported to Kansas two days later.
1917 – Spectator mine disaster kills 168, Butte, MT.
1966 – Some 35,000 members of the Machinists union begin what is to become a 43-day strike — the largest in airline history — against five carriers. The mechanics and other ground service workers wanted to share in the airlines’ substantial profits.
1852 – The earliest recorded strike by Chinese immigrants to the U.S. occurs when stonemasons, who were brought to San Francisco to build the three-story Parrott granite building — made from Chinese prefabricated blocks — strike for higher pay.
1971 – New York City drawbridge tenders, in a dispute with the state over pension issues, leave a dozen bridges open, snarling traffic in what the Daily News described as “the biggest traffic snafu in the city’s history.”

1865 – Helen Marot is born in Philadelphia to a wealthy family. She went on to organize the Bookkeepers, Stenographers and Accountants Union in New York, and to organize and lead the city’s 1909-1910 Shirtwaist Strike. In 1912, she was a member of a commission that investigated the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

(Labor History is provided by Union Communications Services, since 1981 North America’s premier publisher and distributor of newsletters, leadership training programs for shop stewards and officers, website materials and other powerful use-it-today strategies and tools to help leaders and activists build union power. Reach them at

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