IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


Today in labor history for the week of November 1, 2010

November 01
Nation's first general strike for 10 hour day; Philadelphia - 1835

Thirty-seven black striking Louisiana sugar workers were murdered when Louisiana militia, aided by bands of "prominent citizens," shot unarmed workers trying to get a dollar-per-day wage. Two strike leaders were lynched - 1887

Malbone tunnel disaster in New York City; inexperienced scab motorman crashes five-car train during strike, 97 killed, 255 injured - 1918

Some 400,000 soft coal miners strike for higher wages and shorter hours - 1919

United Stone & Allied Products Workers of America merge with United Steelworkers of America - 1972

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, mandatory overtime - 1979

Honda assembles the first-ever Japanese car manufactured in a U.S. plant, in Marysville, Ohio. By 2009 the plant was making 440,000 cars a year and Honda – just one of the foreign manufacturers with multiple plants operating in the U.S. – said it had sold 20 million cars since its American operation launched - 1982

November 02
150 arrested in IWW free speech fight, Spokane, Wash. - 1909

Railroad union leader & socialist Eugene V. Debs receives a million votes for President while imprisoned - 1920

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 - 1983

November 03
Striking milk drivers dump thousands of gallons of milk on New York City streets - 1921

November 04
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.” - 1879

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 - 1933

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 - 1996

November 05 
Eugene V. Debs - labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born - 1855

Everett, Wash., massacre, at least seven Wobblies killed, 50 wounded and an indeterminate number missing - 1916

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 - 2007

November 06
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 - 1922

November 07
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. The strike held on for a week in the face of threats from the U.S. War Department - 1917

President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike - 1959

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. IUE President Paul Jennings described the policy as "telling the workers what they are entitled to and then trying to shove it down their throats." - 1990
 

Sources:
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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