IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

Today in labor history for the week of November 29, 2010 

November 29
Clerks, teamsters and building service workers at Boston Stores in Milwaukee strike at the beginning of the Christmas rush. The strike won widespread support – at one point 10,000 pickets jammed the sidewalks around the main store – but ultimately was lost. Workers returned to the job in mid-January with a small pay raise and no union recognition - 1934

National Labor Relations Board rules that medical interns can unionize and negotiate wages and hours - 1999

November 30
“Fighting Mary” Eliza McDowell, also known as the “Angel of the Stockyards,” born in Chicago. As a social worker she helped organize the first women’s local of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union in 1902 – 1854

Mother Jones died at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md.; “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!” - 1930

More than 12,000 members of the Insurance Agents Union strike in 35 states and Washington D.C. against the Prudential Insurance Co. - 1951

Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash. - 1999

December 01
The Ford Motor Co. introduced the continuous moving assembly line which could produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes - 1913
Kellogg cereal adopts 6-hour day - 1930

African American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala. bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement's campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South's "Jim Crow" laws - 1955

United Garment Workers of America merge with United Food & Commercial Workers International Union - 1994

Metal Polishers, Buffers, Platers & Allied Workers International Union & United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum & Plastics Workers of America merge with International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers - 1996

December 02
A Chicago "slugger," paid $50 by labor unions for every scab he "discouraged," described his job in an interview: "Oh, there ain't nothing to it. I gets my fifty, then I goes out and finds the guy they wanna have slugged, then I gives it to ‘im" - 1911

Court documents filed in Boston say Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime - 2009

December 03
Textile strikers win 10-hour day, Fall River, Mass. - 1866

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance setting an eight-hour workday for all city employees - 1867

IWW union Brotherhood of Timber Workers organized - 1910

General strike begins in Oakland, Calif., started by female department store clerks - 1946

The express passenger train "20th Century Limited" ends over 60 years of service when it takes its last run from New York City to Chicago - 1967

5,000 union construction workers in Oahu, Hawaii march to City Hall in protest of a proposed construction moratorium by the City Council - 1976

Arrests began today in Middleton, NJ of teachers striking in violation of a no-strike law. Ultimately 228 educators were jailed for up to seven days before they were released following the Middleton Township Education Association's agreement to take the dispute to mediation - 2001 

December 04
President Roosevelt announces the end of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), concluding the four-year run of one of the American government's most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains - 1943

UAW President Walter Reuther elected president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations - 1951

Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers' grape boycott - 1970

December 05
Unionists John T. and James B. McNamara were sentenced to 15 years and life, respectively, after confessing to dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a drive to unionize the metal trades in the city. Twenty people died in the bombing. The newspaper was strongly conservative and anti-union - 1911

Ending a 20-year split, the two largest labor federations in the U.S. merge to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million - 1955

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcomes the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, declaring "No deal is better than a bad deal" - 1999

The U.S. Dept. of Labor reports employers slashed 533,000 jobs the month before -- the most in 34 years -- as the Great Recession surged. The unemployment rolls had risen for 7 months before that and were to continue to soar for another 10 months before topping 10 percent and beginning to level off late the following year - 2008

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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