IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


Today in labor history for the week of December 27, 2010  

December 27
President Roosevelt seizes the railroads to avert a nationwide strike. His decision to temporarily place the railroads under the “supervision” of the War Department prompts the five railroad brotherhoods to agree to his offer to arbitrate the wage dispute - 1943 

December 28
Auto workers begin sit-down strike for union recognition at GM’s Fisher Body plant in Cleveland - 1936 

December 29
After years of intensive lobbying by the labor movement, a comprehensive national safety law is enacted as President Nixon signs the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, creating the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) - 1970 

More than 15,000 United Steel Workers members at 16 Goodyear Tire & Rubber plants end an 86-day strike, ratify three-year contract - 2006

December 30
Gathering in the back room of Behrens’ cigar shop in Sedalia, Missouri, 33 railroad clerks form Local Lodge Number 1 of a union they named the Order of the Railroad Clerks of America - 1899

Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg, who had brutally suppressed the state’s miners, is killed by an assassin's bomb. Legendary Western Federation of Miners leader William "Big Bill" Haywood and two other men were put on trial for the death but were ultimately declared innocent - 1905 

GM sit-down strike spreads to Flint, Mich., will last 44 days before ending in union victory - 1936 

December 31
60,000 unemployed workers rally at a Pittsburgh stadium - 1931 

United Mine Workers reformer Joseph "Jock" Yablonski, his wife and daughter are murdered by hitmen hired by union president Tony Boyle, who was to be convicted of the crime and eventually die in prison - 1969

OSHA adopts a grain handling facilities standard to protect 155,000 workers at nearly 24,000 grain elevators from the risk of fire and explosion from highly combustible grain dust - 1987  

January 01
Women weavers form union, Fall River, Mass - 1875

John L. Lewis is elected president of the United Mine Workers. Fifteen years later he is to be a leader in the formation of what was to become the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) - 1920

With the Great Depression in full force, the year 1932 opens with 14 million unemployed, national income down by 50%, breadlines that include former shopkeepers, businessmen and middle-class housewives. Charity is overwhelmed: only one-quarter of America’s unemployed are receiving any help at all - 1932

Workers begin to acquire credits toward Social Security pension benefits. Employers and employees became subject to a tax of one percent of wages on up to $3,000 a year - 1937

Adolph Strasser, head of the Cigar Maker’s Union and one of the founders of the AFL in 1886, died on this day in Forest Park, Ill. - 1939

Country music legend Hank Williams attends what was to be his final Musician’s union meeting, at the Elite Café in Montgomery, Ala. He died of apparent heart failure three days later, at age 29 - 1953 

Members of the Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union working for the New York transit system begin what is to be a successful 12 day strike. Fiery TWU leader Mike Quill, jailed for several days during the strike, then hospitalized, died three days after his release from the hospital - 1966

The Federal minimum wage rises to $2.65 an hour - 1978

International Typographical Union, nation’s oldest union, merges with Communications Workers of America - 1987

United Furniture Workers of America merges with Int’l Union of Electronic, Electrical, Technical, Salaried & Machine Workers to become International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine & Furniture Workers, now a division of CWA - 1987

National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians merges with Communications Workers of America - 1994

International Union of Allied & Industrial Workers of America merges with United Paperworkers International. Later merged into the Steelworkers - 1994

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) takes effect, over objections of labor - 1994

Mechanics Educational Society of America merges with United Automobile Workers - 1997

Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers Int’l Union merges with American Federation of Grain Millers to form Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Int’l Union - 1999

January 02 
Conference of 23 industrial unionists in Chicago leads to formation of IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as Wobblies - 1905

In what became known as Palmer Raids, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer arrests 4,000 foreign-born labor agitators. He believed Communism was “eating its way into the homes of the American workman,” and Socialists were causing most of the country’s social problems - 1920

An underground explosion at Sago Mine in Tallmansville, W. Va., traps 12 miners and cuts power to the mine. Eleven men die, mostly by asphyxiation. The mine had been cited 273 times for safety violations over the prior 23 months - 2006

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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