This Week in Labor History May 20-26

MAY 20
1926 The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers’ rights to form unions.
1933 Some 9,000 rubber workers strike in Akron, Ohio.

MAY 21
1945 The “Little Wagner Act” is signed in Hawaii, guaranteeing pineapple and sugar workers the right to bargain collectively. After negotiations failed, a successful 79-day strike shut down 33 of the territory’s 34 plantations and brought higher wages and a 40-hour week.
2004 Nearly 100,000 unionized SBC Communications Inc. workers begin a four-day strike to protest the local phone giant’s latest contract offer.

MAY 22
1895 Eugene V. Debs imprisoned in Woodstock, Ill., for role in Pullman strike.
1909 – While white locomotive firemen on the Georgia Railroad strike, Blacks who are hired as replacements are whipped and stoned—not by the union men, but by white citizens outraged that Blacks are being hired over whites.
1920 Civil Service Retirement Act of 1920 gives federal workers a pension.

MAY 23
1903 An estimated 100,000 textile workers, including more than 10,000 children, strike in the Philadelphia area. Among the issues: 60-hour workweeks, including night hours, for the children.
1934 The Battle of Toledo begins today: a five-day running battle between roughly 6,000 strikers at the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard.
1946 U.S. railroad strike starts, later crushed when President Truman threatens to draft strikers.

MAY 24
1883 After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world.”
1995 Some 2,300 members of the United Rubber Workers, on strike for 10 months against five Bridgestone-Firestone plants, agree to return to work without a contract.

MAY 25
1805 Pressured by employers, striking shoemakers in Philadelphia are arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy for violating an English common law that bars schemes aimed at forcing wage increases. The strike was broken.
1925 Two company houses occupied by non-union coal miners are blown up and destroyed during a strike against the Glendale Gas & Coal Co. in Wheeling, W. Va.
1936 The notorious 11-month Remington Rand strike begins. The strike spawned the “Mohawk Valley (NY) formula,” described by investigators as a corporate plan to discredit union leaders, frighten the public with the threat of violence, employ thugs to beat up strikers, and other tactics.

MAY 26
1894 Western Federation of Miners members strike for eight-hour day, Cripple Creek, Colo.
1937 Some 100,000 steel workers and miners in mines owned by steel companies strike in seven states. The Memorial Day Massacre, in which 10 strikers were killed by police at Republic Steel in Chicago, took place four days later, on May 30.
1937 Ford Motor Co. security guards attack union organizers and supporters attempting to distribute literature outside the plant in Dearborn, Mich., in an event that was to become known as the “Battle of the Overpass.”

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top