This week in labor history: October 5-11

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OCTOBER 5
1945 A strike by set decorators turns into a bloody riot at the gates of Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, Calif., when scabs try to cross the picket line. The incident is still identified as “Hollywood Black Friday” and “The Battle of Burbank.”
1976 The UAW ends a three-week strike against Ford Motor Co. when the company agrees to a contract that includes more vacation days and better retirement and unemployment benefits.
1983 Polish Solidarity union founder Lech Walesa wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
2004 Some 2,100 supermarket janitors in California, mostly from Mexico, win a $22.4 million settlement over unpaid overtime. Many said they worked 70 or more hours a week, often seven nights a week from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. Cleaner Jesus Lopez told the New York Times he only had three days off in five years.

OCTOBER 6
1918 First National Conference of Trade Union Women.
1927 The first “talkie” movie, The Jazz Singer, premieres in New York City. Within three years, according to the American Federation of Musicians, theater jobs for some 22,000 musicians who accompanied silent movies were lost, while only a few hundred jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created by the new technology.
1986 Some 1,700 female flight attendants win 18-year, $37 million suit against United Airlines. They had been fired for getting married.
1995 Thirty-two thousand machinists begin what is to be a successful 69-day strike against the Boeing Co. The eventual settlement brought improvements that averaged an estimated $19,200 in wages and benefits over four years and safeguards against job cutbacks.

OCTOBER 7
1879 Joe Hill, Labor leader and songwriter, born in Gavle, Sweden.
1903 The Structural Building Trades Alliance (SBTA) is founded, becomes the AFL’s Building Trades Dept. Five years later. SBTA’s mission: to provide a forum to work out jurisdictional conflicts.
1946 Hollywood’s “Battle of the Mirrors.” Picketing members of the Conference of Studio Unions disrupted an outdoor shoot by holding up large reflectors that filled camera lenses with blinding sunlight. Members of the competing IATSE union retaliated by using the reflectors to shoot sunlight back across the street. The battle went on all day, writes Tom Sito in Drawing the Line.

OCTOBER 8
1871 Thirty of the city’s 185 fire fighters are injured battling the Great Chicago Fire, which burned for three days.
1982 In Poland, the union Solidarity and all other Labor organizations are banned by the government.

OCTOBER 9
1888 United Hebrew Trades is organized in New York by shirt maker Morris Hillquit and others. Hillquit would later become leader of the Socialist Party.
1997 Retail stock brokerage Smith Barney reaches a tentative sexual harassment settlement with a group of female employees. The suit charged, among other things, that branch managers asked female workers to remove their tops in exchange for money and one office featured a “boom boom room” where women workers were encouraged to “entertain clients.” The settlement was never finalized: a U.S. District Court judge refused to approve the deal because it failed to adequately redress the plaintiff’s grievances.
2003 An estimated 3,300 sanitation workers working for private haulers in Chicago win a nine-day strike featuring a 28 percent wage increase over five years.

OCTOBER 10
1933 Six days into a cotton field strike by 18,000 Mexican and Mexican-American workers in Pixley, Calif., four strikers are killed and six wounded; eight growers were indicted and charged with murder.

OCTOBER 11
1873 The Miners’ National Association is formed in Youngstown, Ohio, with the goal of uniting all miners, regardless of skill or ethnic background.
1948 Nearly 1,500 plantation workers strike Olaa Sugar, on Hawaii’s Big Island.

(Compiled by David Prosten, founder Union Communication Services)

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