IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


This Week in Labor History for the week of February 13, 2011 


February 14
Western Federation of Miners strike for 8-hour day - 1903

President Theodore Roosevelt creates the Department of Commerce and Labor. It was divided into two separate government departments ten years later - 1903

Jimmy Hoffa born in Brazil, Indiana, son of a coal miner. Disappeared July 30, 1975, declared dead seven years later – 1913

Striking workers at Detroit’s newspapers, out since the previous July, offer to return to work. The offer is accepted five days later but the newspapers vow to retain some 1,200 scabs. A court ruling the following year ordered as many as 1,100 former strikers reinstated - 1996

February 15
Susan B. Anthony, suffragist, abolitionist, labor activist, born in Adams, Mass. - 1820

U.S. legislators pass the Civil Works Emergency Relief Act, providing funds for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which funneled money to states plagued by Depression-era poverty and unemployment, and oversaw the subsequent distribution and relief efforts - 1934

The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) expels the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers; the Food, Tobacco & Agricultural Workers; and the United Office & Professional Workers for “Communist tendencies.” Other unions expelled for the same reason (dates uncertain): Fur and Leather Workers, the Farm Equipment Union, the International Longshoremen’s Union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers - 1950

February 16
Leonora O’Reilly was born in New York. The daughter of Irish immigrants, she began working in a factory at 11, joined the Knights of Labor at 16, and was a volunteer investigator of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. She was a founding member of the Woman’s Trade Union League - 1870

Diamond Mine disaster in Braidwood, Ill. The coal mine was on a marshy tract of land with no natural drainage. Snow melted and forced a collapse on the east side of the mine, killing 74 - 1883

Beginning of a 17-week general strike of 12,000 New York furriers, in which Jewish workers formed a coalition with Greek and African American workers and became the first union to win a five-day, 40-hour week - 1926

Rubber Workers begin sit-down strike at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. - 1936

American Wire Weavers Protective Association merges with United Papermakers & Paperworkers - 1959

February 17
63 sit-down strikers, demanding recognition of their union, are tear gassed and driven from two Fansteel Metallurgical Corp. plants in Chicago. Two years later the U.S. Supreme Court declared sit-down strikes illegal. The tactic had been a major industrial union organizing tool - 1937

Unions at Yale University strike in solidarity with teaching assistants - 1992

February 18
One of the first American labor newspapers, The Man, is published in New York City. It cost one cent and, according to The History of American Journalism, “died an early death.” Another labor paper, N.Y. Daily Sentinel, had been launched four years earlier - 1834

Faced with 84 hour workweeks, 24 hour shifts and pay of 29 cents an hour, fire fighters form The International Association of Fire Fighters. Some individual locals had affiliated with the AFL beginning in 1903 - 1918

February 19
American Federation of Labor issues a charter to its new Railroad Employees Dept. - 1909

A few weeks after workers ask for a 25 cent hourly wage, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit (streetcar) Co. fires 173 union members “for the good of the service” and brings in replacements from New York City. Striker-scab battles and a general strike ensued - 1910

Journeymen Stonecutters Association of North America merges with Laborers’ International Union - 1968

The U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. – the case establishing that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction - 1975

International Union of Police Associations granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1979

Farm Labor Organizing Committee signs agreement with Campbell Soup Co., ending seven-year boycott - 1986

February 20
Rally for unemployed becomes major confrontation in Philadelphia, 18 arrested for demanding jobs - 1908

Thousands of women march to New York’s City Hall demanding relief from exorbitant wartime food prices. Inflation had wiped out any wage gains made by workers, leading to a high level of working class protest during World War I - 1917

United Mine Workers settle 10-month Pittston strike in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia – 1990


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