IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

Today in labor history for the week of December 13, 2010  

December 13
Death in San Antonio, Tex. of Samuel Gompers, president and founder of the American Federation of Labor - 1924 

December 14
Daniel DeLeon, socialist scholar and labor organizer, born - 1852

Some 33,000 striking members of the Machinists end a 69-day walkout at Boeing after winning pay and benefit increases and protections against subcontracting some of their work overseas - 1995

December 15
AFL convention passes a one-cent per capita assessment to aid the organization of women workers. (Exact date uncertain) - 1913

The Kansas national guard is called out to subdue from 2,000 to 6,000 protesting women who were going from mine to mine attacking non-striking miners in the Pittsburgh coal fields. The women made headlines across the state and the nation: they were christened the "Amazon Army" by the New York Times - 1921

Eight days after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, the AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related plants for the duration of World War II - 1941

Meeting in its biennial convention, the AFL-CIO declares “unstinting support” for “measures the Administration might deem necessary to halt Communist aggression and secure a just and lasting peace” in Viet Nam - 1967

The U.S. Age Discrimination Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone age 40 or older - 1967

California's longest nurses strike ended after workers at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and Pinole approved a new contract with Tenet Healthcare Corp., ending a 13-month walkout - 2003 

Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union organizer Clinton Jencks, who led New Mexico zinc miners in the strike depicted in the classic 1954 movie “Salt of the Earth,” dies of natural causes in San Diego at age 87 - 2005

December 16
The National Civic Federation is formed by business and labor leaders, most prominently AFL president Sam Gompers, as a vehicle to resolve conflicts between management and labor. Not all unionists agreed with the alliance. The group turned increasingly conservative and labor withdrew after Gompers’ 1924 death - 1900

New York City’s Majestic Theater becomes first in the U.S. to employ women ushers - 1902

The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen & Switchmen’s Union of North America merge to become United Transportation Union - 1968

Eight female bank tellers in Willmar, Minn. begin the first strike against a bank in U.S. history. At issue: they were paid little more than half what male tellers were paid. The strike ended in moral victory but economic defeat two years later - 1977

December 17
Int’l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers merges with United Steelworkers of America - 1996

December 18
General Motors announces it is closing 21 North American plants over the following four years and slashing tens of thousands of jobs - 1991

December 19
An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland Co., Penn. kills 239 coal miners. 71 of the dead share a common grave in Olive Branch Cemetary. Dec 1907, was the worst month in US coal mining history, with over 3,000 dead - 1907

A 47-day strike at Greyhound Bus Lines ends with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union accepting a new contract containing deep cuts in wages and benefits. Striker Ray Phillips died during the strike, run over on a picket line by a scab Greyhound trainee - 1983

26 men and 1 woman are killed in the Wilberg Coal Mine Disaster near Orangeville, Utah. The disaster has been termed the worst coal mine fire in the state’s history. Federal mine safety officials issued 34 safety citations after the disaster but had inspected the mine only days before and declared it safe - 1984

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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