IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

Today in labor history for the week of September 6, 2010 

Avondale Mine DisasterSeptember 06
One of the worst disasters in the history of U.S. anthracite mining occurred at the Avondale Mine, near Scranton, Pa., when a fire originating from a furnace at the bottom of a 237 foot shaft roared up the shaft, killing 110 miners - 1869

Tony Boyle, former president of the United Mine Workers, is charged with murder in the 1969 deaths of former UMW rival Joseph A. Yablonski and his wife and daughter - 1973

September 07
Federal employees win the right to receive Workers' Compensation insurance - 1916

September 08
Employers give in to the demands of striking miners in McKees Rock, Pa., agree to improved working conditions, 15 percent hike in wages and elimination of a "pool system" that gave foremen control over each worker’s pay - 1909

Workers give up their Labor Day weekend holidays to keep the munitions factories working to aid in the war effort. Most Labor Day parades are canceled in respect for members of the Armed Services - 1942

United Farm Workers union begins historic national grape boycott and strike, Delano, Calif. - 1965

Some 2,600 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers begin what is to be a successful six-day strike for higher pay and against a two-tier wage system - 1997

September 09
In convention at Topeka, Kansas, delegates create the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America. The men who repaired the nation's rail cars were paid 10 or 15 cents an hour, working 12 hours a day, often seven days a week - 1890

More than 1,000 Boston police officers strike after 19 union leaders are fired for organizing activities. Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge announced that none of the strikers would be rehired, mobilized the state police, and recruited an entirely new police force from among unemployed veterans of the Great War (World War I) - 1919

Sixteen striking Filipino sugar workers on the Hawiian island of Kauai are killed by police; four police died as well. Many of the surviving strikers were jailed, then deported - 1924

September 10
Polish, Lithuanian and Slovak miners are gunned down—19 dead, more than 50 wounded—by the Lattimer Mine's sheriff deputies in Hazelton, Pa. Most were shot in the back. The miners were marching peacefully and without weapons for collective bargaining and civil liberty - 1897

September 11
Some 75,000 coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia end a ten-week strike after winning an eight hour day, semi-monthly pay, and the abolition of overpriced company-owned stores, where they had been forced to shop. (Remember the song, "16 Tons," by coal miner’s son Merle Travis, in which there’s this line: "I owe my soul to the company store.") - 1897

More than 3,000 people died when suicide highjackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.  Among the dead were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell - 2001

Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life Norma Rae of the movies, dies at age 68. She worked at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C. when low pay and poor working conditions led her to become a union activist - 2009

September 12
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and socialist, sentenced to 10 years for opposing World War I. While in jail Debs received 1 million votes for president - 1918

Jobless workers march on grocery stores and seize food in Toledo, Ohio - 1932

United Rubber Workers formed in Akron, Ohio - 1935

Forty-nine people are killed, 200 injured in explosion at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Kenvil, New Jersey - 1940

New York City’s Union Square, the site of the first Labor Day in 1882, is officially named a national historic landmark. The square has long been a focal point for working class protest and political expression - 1998 

Toil and Trouble, by Thomas R. Brooks; American Labor Struggles, by Samuel Yellen; IWW calendar, Solidarity Forever; Historical Encyclopedia of American Labor, edited by Robert E. Weir and James P. Hanlan; Southwest Labor History Archives/George Meany Center; Geov Parrish’s Radical History; workday Minnesota; Andy Richards and Adam Wright, AFL-CIO Washington DC Metro Council (graphics research).

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