This week in labor history: September 30-October 6

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SEPTEMBER 30
1892 – A total of 29 strike leaders are charged with treason — plotting “to incite insurrection, rebellion and war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” — for daring to strike the Carnegie Steel Co. in Homestead, Pa. Jurors refuse to convict them.
1899 – Seventy-year-old Mother Jones organizes the wives of striking miners in Arnot, Pa., to descend on the mine with brooms, mops and clanging pots and pans. They frighten away the mules and their scab drivers. The miners eventually won their strike
1915 – Railroad shopmen in 28 cities strike the Illinois Central Railroad and the Harriman lines for an eight-hour day, improved conditions and union recognition, but railroad officials obtain sweeping injunctions against them and rely on police and armed guards to protect strikebreakers
1919 – Black farmers meet in Elaine, Ark., to establish the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices. They are shot at by a group of whites, and return the fire. News of the confrontation spread and a riot ensued, leaving at least 100, perhaps several hundred, of the farmers dead and 67 indicted for inciting violence.
1962 – Cesar Chavez, with Dolores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America.

OCTOBER 1
1931 – The George Washington Bridge officially opens, spanning the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. Thirteen workers died during the four-year construction project for what at the time was the longest main span in the world.
1935 – Thousands of dairy farmers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa strike in demand of higher prices for their milk.
1975 – Some 200 Pressmen begin what is to become a two-year strike at the Washington Post. Nine of the paper’s 10 other unions engaged in sympathy strikes for more than four months but ultimately returned to their jobs as the paper continued publishing. The press operators picketed for 19 months but eventually decertified the union.
1994 – The National Hockey League team owners began a lockout of the players that lasted 103 days.

OCTOBER 2
1934 – American Federation of Labor officially endorses campaign for a six-hour day, five-day workweek.
1949 – Joining with 400,000 coal miners already on strike, 500,000 CIO steel workers close down the nation’s foundries, steel and iron mills, demanding pensions and better wages and working conditions.
2007 – Starbucks Workers Union baristas at an outlet in East Grand Rapids, Mich., organized by the Wobblies, win their grievances after the National Labor Relations Board cites the company for labor law violations, including threats against union activists.
2010 – Union members, progressives and others rally in Washington D.C., under the Banner of One Nation Working Together, demand “good jobs, equal justice, and quality education for all.” Crowd estimates range from tens of thousands to 200,000.

OCTOBER 3
1932 – The state militia is called in after 164 high school students in Kincaid, Ill., go on strike when the school board buys coal from the scab Peabody Coal Co.
1945 – Pacific Greyhound Lines bus drivers in seven western states begin what is to become a three-week strike, eventually settling for a 10.5-percent raise.
1961 – The United Auto Workers calls for a company-wide strike against Ford Motor Co., the first since Ford’s initial contract with the union 20 years earlier.
1970 – Baseball umpires strike for recognition of their newly-formed Major League Umpires Association, win after one day.

OCTOBER 4
1945 – President Truman orders the U.S. Navy to seize oil refineries, breaking a 20-state post-war strike.
1961 – The United Mine Workers of America votes to re-affiliate with the AFL-CIO after years of on-and-off conflict with the federation. In 2009 the union’s leader, Richard Trumka, becomes AFL-CIO President.

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,” premiers 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.

(Labor History is provided by Union Communications Services, since 1981 North America’s premier publisher and distributor of newsletters, leadership training programs for shop stewards and officers, website materials and other powerful use-it-today strategies and tools to help leaders and activists build union power. Reach them at unionist.com.)

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