This week in labor history: October 31- November 6

1829  George Henry Evans publishes the first issue of the Working Man’s Advocate, “edited by a Mechanic” for the “useful and industrious classes” in New York City. He focused on the inequities between the “portion of society living in luxury and idleness” and those “groaning under the oppressions and miseries imposed on them.”
1891 Tennessee sends in leased convict laborers to break a coal miners’ strike in Anderson County. The miners revolted, burned the stockades, and sent the captured convicts by train back to Knoxville.
1941 After 14 years of labor by 400 stone masons, the Mt. Rushmore sculpture is completed in Keystone, S.D.
1971 Int’l Alliance of Bill Posters, Billers & Distributors of the United States & Canada surrenders its AFL-CIO charter and is disbanded.

NOVEMBER 1
1835 In the nation’s first general strike for a 10-hour day, 300 armed Irish longshoremen marched through the streets of Philadelphia calling on other workers to join them. Some 20,000 did, from clerks to bricklayers to city employees and other occupations. The city announced a 10-hour workday within the week; private employers followed suit three weeks later.
1887 Thirty-seven Black striking Louisiana sugar workers are murdered when Louisiana militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shoot unarmed workers trying to get a dollar-per-day wage. Two strike leaders are lynched.
1918 Malbone tunnel disaster in New York City; inexperienced scab motorman crashes five-car train during strike, 97 killed, 255 injured.
1919 Some 400,000 soft coal miners strike for higher wages and shorter hours.
1972 United Stone & Allied Products Workers of America merge with United Steelworkers of America.
1979 The UAW begins what was to become a successful 172-day strike against International Harvester. The union turned back company demands for weakened work rules and mandatory overtime.
1982 Honda assembles the first-ever Japanese car manufactured in a U.S. plant, in Marysville, Ohio.

NOVEMBER 2
1909 Police arrest 150 in IWW free speech fight, Spokane, Wash.

1920 Railroad union leader & socialist Eugene V. Debs receives nearly a million votes for president while imprisoned for opposing World War I.
1983 President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to be observed on the third Monday of January.
1989 Carmen Fasanella retired after 68 years and 243 days of taxicab service in Princeton, N.J., earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He started driving at age 17 and, reportedly, chauffeured Princeton Professor Albert Einstein around town.

NOVEMBER 3
1921 Striking milk drivers dump thousands of gallons of milk on New York City streets.
2009 Some 5,000 Philadelphia-area public transit workers begin what was to be a six-day strike centered on wages and pension benefits.

NOVEMBER 4
1879 Populist humorist Will Rogers was born on this day near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.”
1933 Some 3,000 dairy farmers demonstrate in Neillsville, Wisc., ultimately leading to the freeing of jailed leaders of a milk strike over low prices set by large dairy plants. Tons of fresh milk were dumped on public roads, trains carrying milk were stopped, some cheese plants were bombed during the fight.
1996 After a struggle lasting more than two years, 6,000 Steelworkers members at Bridgestone/Firestone win a settlement in which strikers displaced by scabs got their original jobs back. The fight started when management demanded that the workers accept 12-hour shifts.

NOVEMBER 5
1855 Eugene V. Debs, Labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born.
1916 Everett, Wash., massacre – at least seven Wobblies killed, 50 wounded and an indeterminate number missing.
2007 Some 12,000 television and movie writers begin what was to become a three-month strike against producers over demands for an increase in pay for movies and television shows released on DVD and for a bigger share of the revenue from work delivered over the Internet.

NOVEMBER 6
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.

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

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