1887 – French transport worker and socialist Eugene Pottier dies in Paris at age 71. In 1871 he authored “L’Internationale,” the anthem to international labor solidarity, the first verse of which begins: “Stand up, damned of the Earth; Stand up, prisoners of starvation.”
1922 – A coal mine explosion in Spangler, Pa., kills 79. The mine had been rated gaseous in 1918, but at the insistence of new operators it was rated as non-gaseous even though miners had been burned by gas on at least four occasions.
1917 – Some 1,300 building trades workers in eastern Massachusetts participated in a general strike on all military work in the area to protest the use of open-shop (a worksite in which union membership is not required as a condition of employment) builders.
1959 – President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike.
1990 – Lemuel Ricketts Boulware dies in Delray Beach, Fla., at age 95. As a GE vice president in the 1950s he created the policy known as Boulwarism, in which management decides what is “fair” and refuses to budge on anything during contract negotiations.
1892 – About 20,000 workers, Black and White, stage general strike in New Orleans, demanding union recognition and hour and wage gains.
1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create four million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America).
1956 – In one of the U.S. auto industry’s more embarrassing missteps over the last half-century, the Ford Motor Co. decides to name its new model the Edsel, after Henry Ford’s only son.
1872 – Twenty people, including at least nine fire fighters, are killed in Boston’s worst fire. It consumed 65 downtown acres and 776 buildings over 12 hours.
1935 – Creation of Committee for Industrial Organization announced by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (in 1938 they formally break with the AFL and become the Congress of Industrial Organizations).
1952 – Philip Murray, first president of the United Steelworkers Organizing Committee, first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations for 12 years following the retirement of John L. Lewis, dies at age 66.
1933 – Sit-down strike begins at Austin, Minn., Hormel plant with the help of a Wobbly organizer, leading to the creation of the Independent Union of All Workers. Labor historians believe this may have been the first sit-down strike of the 1930s.
1975 – The ship Edmund Fitzgerald — the biggest carrier on the Great Lakes — and crew of 29 are lost in a storm on Lake Superior while carrying ore from Superior, Wisc., to Detroit.
1988 – Tile, Marble, Terrazzo Finishers, Shop Workers & Granite Cutters Int’l Union merges into United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners.
1887 – Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago Labor rally.
1919 – A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths.
1940 – A total of 57 crewmen on three freighters die over a three-day period when their ships sink during a huge storm over Lake Michigan.
1954 – Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants.
1966 – “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers – half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars.
(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)