IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


Today in labor history for the week of November 8, 2010

November 08
20,000 workers, black and white, stage general strike in New Orleans, demanding union recognition and hour and wage gains - 1892

President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create four million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America) - 1933

November 09
Committee for Industrial Organization founded by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. The eight want more focus on organizing mass production industry workers - 1935

Philip Murray, first president of the United Steelworkers Organizing Committee, first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations for 12 years following the death of John L. Lewis, dies at age 66 - 1952

November 10
Sit-down strike begins at Austin, Minn. Hormel plant with the help of a Wobbly organizer, leading to the creation of the Independant Union of All Workers - 1933

The ship Edmund Fitzgerald – the biggest carrier on the Great Lakes – and crew of 29 are lost in a storm on Lake Superior while carrying ore from Superior, Wisc. to Detroit. The cause of the sinking was never established - 1975

Tile, Marble, Terrazzo Finishers, Shop Workers & Granite Cutters International Union merges into United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners - 1988

November 11
Fire fighters from every New England state except Vermont respond to a call for help from Boston, where a fire has engulfed the city. 776 buildings were destroyed, 20 people died. Fire boxes in Boston were locked to prevent false alarms, therefore delaying the Boston Fire Dept. response by 20 minutes - 1872

Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally - 1887

A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Ill. results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged: local officials listed his death as a suicide - 1919

57 crewmen on three freighters die over a three-day period when their ships sink during a huge storm over Lake Michigan - 1940

November 12
Ellis Island in New York closes after providing the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants - 1954

“Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers—half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars - 1996

November 13
259 miners died in the underground Cherry Mine fire. As a result of the disaster, Illinois established stricter safety regulations and in 1911, the basis for the state’s Workers Compensation Act was passed - 1909

A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia in Butte, Mont. - 1914

The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, NJ. Thirteen workers died over its seven-year-long construction - 1927

GM workers’ post-war strike for higher wages closes 96 plants - 1945

Members of the International Typographical Union, on strike against the Green Bay (Wisc.) Press-Gazette over technology changes, create the Green Bay Daily News (later the News-Chronicle) as a money-maker for the strikers and to support their cause. Surviving until 1976, it was seen as the longest-running strike paper in newspaper history - 1972

Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union activist Karen Silkwood is killed in a suspicious car crash on her way to deliver documents to a newspaper reporter during a safety investigation of her Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma. - 1974

November 14
Trade unions formed the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Organizations, later becoming the AFL. Under the leadership of Samuel Gompers and Peter McGuire, the AFL became the most influential labor organization in the nation - 1881

Women’s Trade Union League founded, Boston - 1903

The American Railway Supervisors Association is formed at Harmony Hall in Chicago by 29 supervisors working for the Chicago & North Western Railway. They organized after realizing that those railroaders working under their supervision already had the benefits of unionization and were paid more for working fewer hours - 1934

The Depression-era Public Works Administration agrees with New York City today to begin a huge slum clearance project covering 20 acres in Brooklyn, where low cost housing for 2,500 families will be completed. It was the first of many such jobs-and-housing projects across the country - 1934

The National Federation of Telephone Workers – later to become the Communications Workers of America – is founded in New Orleans - 1938

To “organize workers into a powerful industrial union,” United Mine Workers of America President, John L. Lewis called a meeting in Pittsburgh’s Islam Grotto, founding the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) - 1938

Jimmy Carter-era OSHA publishes standard reducing permissible exposure of lead, protecting 835,000 workers from damage to nervous, urinary and reproductive systems - 1978

Federation of Professional Athletes granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1979

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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