IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


Today in labor history for the week of January 3, 2011  

January 03
The ship Thetis arrives in Hawaii with 175 Chinese field workers bound to serve for five years at $3 per month - 1852

Wobblie Tom Mooney tried in San Francisco for Preparedness Day bombing - 1917

In a familiar scene during the Great Depression, some 500 farmers, black and white, their crops ruined by a long drought, march into downtown England, Ark., to demand food for their starving families, warning they would take it by force if necessary. Town fathers frantically contacted the Red Cross; each family went home with two weeks’ rations - 1931 

The Supreme Court rules against the closed shop, a labor-management agreement that only union members can be hired and must remain members to continue on the job - 1949

AFL-CIO American Institute for Free Labor Development employees Mike Hammer and Mark Pearlman are assassinated in El Salvador along with a Peasant Workers’ Union leader with whom they were working on a land reform program - 1981

January 04
Angered by increasing farm foreclosures, members of Iowa's Farmers Holiday Association threaten to lynch banking representatives and law officials who institute foreclosure proceedings for the duration of the Great Depression - 1933

8,000 NYC social workers strike, demand better conditions for welfare recipients - 1965

Legendary Transport Workers Union leader Mike Quill, other TWU leaders are jailed for violating anti-strike court injunction in 4-day-old New York City transit walkout involving 35,000 members. A settlement was reached Jan. 13 – 1966

United Paperworkers International Union merges with Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union to form Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union, itself later to merge with the Steelworkers - 1999

January 05
The nation’s first Black labor convention was held in Washington, D.C., with 214 delegates forming the Colored National Labor Union - 1869

Ford Motor Company raises wages from $2.40 for a 9-hour day to $5 for an 8 hour day in effort to keep the unions out - 1914

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins. Ten of the eleven deaths on the job came when safety netting beneath the site – the first-ever use of such equipment – failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. Nineteen other workers were saved by the net over the course of construction. They became members of the (informal) Halfway to Hell Club - 1933

United Mine Workers reformer Joseph Yablonski and his family are murdered by goons hired by union president Tony Boyle - 1970

January 06
The Toronto Trades and Labour Council endorses the principle of equal pay for equal work between men and women - 1882

8,000 workers strike at Youngstown Sheet & Tube. The following day the strikers’ wives and other family members join in the protest. Company guards use tear gas bombs and fire into the crowd; three strikers are killed, 25 wounded - 1916

January 07
An explosion at Osage Coal and Mining Company’s Mine Number 11 near Krebs, Okla. kills 100, injures 150 when an untrained worker accidentally sets off a stash of explosives - 1892

Wobblie Tom Mooney, accused of a murder by bombing in San Francisco, pardoned and freed after 22 years in San Quentin - 1939

The presidents of 12 of the nation’s largest unions meet and call for reuniting the American labor movement, which split into two factions in 2005 when when seven unions left the AFL-CIO and formed a rival federation. The meeting followed signals from President-elect Barack Obama that he would prefer dealing with a united movement, rather than a fractured one that often had two competing voices. Unions from both sides of the split participated in the meeting. The reunification effort failed - 2009

January 08
Birthdate of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, first AFL woman organizer. In 1880 she organized the Woman’s Bookbinder Union and in 1903 was a founder of the National Women’s Trade Union League - 1864

American Federation of Labor charters a Mining Department - 1912

The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee ends the “Great Steel Strike.” Some 350,000 to 400,000 steelworkers had been striking for more than three months, demanding union recognition. The strike failed - 1920

January 09
A Mediation Commission appointed by President Woodrow Wilson finds that "industry’s failure to deal with unions" is the prime reason for labor strife in war industries - 1918

Eighty thousand Chicago construction workers strike - 1922

Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union leads Missouri Highway sit-down of 1,700 families. They had been evicted from their homes so landowners wouldn't have to share government crop subsidy payments with them - 1939

Former Hawaii Territorial Gov. Ingram Steinbeck opposes statehood for Hawaii, saying left wing unions have an "economic stranglehold" on the islands. Hawaii was to be granted statehood five years later - 1954

The administration of George W. Bush declares federal airport security screeners will not be allowed to unionize so as not to "complicate" the war on terrorism - 2003 

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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