This week in labor history: November 25-December 1

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NOVEMBER 25
1883 – Some 10,000 New Orleans workers, black and white, participate in a solidarity parade of unions comprising the Central Trades and Labor Assembly. The parade was so successful it was repeated the following two years.
1946 – Teachers strike in St. Paul, Minn., the first organized walkout by teachers in the country. The month-long “strike for better schools” involving some 1,100 teachers — and principals — led to a number of reforms in the way schools were administered and operated.
1947 – Nearly 1,550 typesetters begin what is to become a victorious 22-month strike against Chicago newspapers.
1952 – George Meany becomes president of the American Federation of Labor following the death four days earlier of William Green.
1983 – Canadian postal workers, protesting a Post Office decision to offer discounts to businesses but not individuals, announce that for one week they will unilaterally reduce postage costs by about two-thirds. Declared the Canadian Union of Postal Workers: “Members of the general public, not businesses, can mail letters with 10 cents postage and postal workers will process them without taxing them for insufficient postage.”

NOVEMBER 26
1910 – Six young women burn to death and 19 more die when they leap from the fourth-story windows of a blazing factory in Newark, N.J. The floors and stairs were wooden; the only door through which the women could flee was locked.

NOVEMBER 27
1936 – Some 1,200 workers sit down at Midland Steel, forcing recognition of the United Auto Workers, Detroit.
1937 – The pro-Labor musical revue, “Pins & Needles,” opens on Broadway with a cast of Int’l Ladies Garment Workers Union members. The show ran on Friday and Saturday nights only, because of the cast’s regular jobs. It ran for 1,108 performances before closing.

NOVEMBER 28
1828 – William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, born.
1891 – National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, precursor to IBEW, founded.
1908 – A total of 154 men die in a coal mine explosion at Marianna, Pa. Engineer and General Superintendent A.C. Beeson tells the local newspaper he had been in the mine a few minutes before the blast and had found it to be in perfect condition.
1953 – Some 400 New York City photoengravers working for the city’s newspapers, supported by 20,000 other newspaper unionists, begin what is to become an 11-day strike, shutting down the papers.

NOVEMBER 29
1934 – Clerks, teamsters and building service workers at Boston Stores in Milwaukee strike at the beginning of the Christmas rush. The strike won widespread support — at one point 10,000 pickets jammed the sidewalks around the main store — but ultimately was lost. Workers returned to the job in mid-January with a small pay raise and no union recognition.
1966 – The SS Daniel J. Morrell, a 603-foot freighter, breaks in two during a strong storm on Lake Huron. Twenty-eight of its 29 crewmen died; survivor Dennis Hale was found the next day, near frozen and floating in a life raft with the bodies of three of his crewmates. He had survived for nearly 40 hours in frigid temperatures wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, a lifejacket, and a pea coat.
1999 – National Labor Relations Board rules that medical interns can unionize and negotiate wages and hours.

NOVEMBER 30
1854 – “Fighting Mary” Eliza McDowell, also known as the “Angel of the Stockyards,” born in Chicago. As a social worker she helped organize the first women’s local of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union in 1902.
1930 – Mother Jones died at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md. Describing herself, she famously said “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!”
1951 – More than 12,000 members of the Insurance Agents Union strike in 35 states and Washington, D.C., against the Prudential Insurance Co.
1999 – Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash.

DECEMBER 1
1913 – The Ford Motor Co. introduces the continuous moving assembly line which can produce a complete car every two-and-a-half hours.
1930 – Kellogg cereal adopts six-hour day.
1955 – African-American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement’s campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South’s “Jim Crow” laws.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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