IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


This Week in Labor History for the week of February 20, 2011

February 21
Transportation-Communication Employees Union merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees - 1969

United Farm Workers of America granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1972

February 22
Representatives of the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers meet in St. Louis with 20 other organizations to plan the founding convention of the People’s Party. Objectives: end political corruption, spread the wealth, and combat the oppression of the rights of workers and farmers - 1892

Albert Shanker dies at age 68. He served as president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1984 and of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997 - 1997

February 23
W.E.B. DuBois, educator and civil rights activist, born - 1868

The National Marine Engineers Assn. (now the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Assn.), representing deck and engine officers on U.S. flag vessels, is formed at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio - 1875

The Journeyman Bakers National Union receives its charter from the American Federation of Labor - 1887

William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner began publishing articles on the menace of Japanese laborers, leading to a resolution in the California legislature that action be taken against their immigration - 1904

Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” following a frigid trip -- partially by hitchhiking, partially by rail -- from California to Manhattan. The Great Depression was still raging. Guthrie had heard Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” and resolved to himself: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it” – 1940

Association of Flight Attendants granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1984

Following voter approval for the measure in 2003, San Francisco’s minimum wage rises to $8.50, up from $6.75 - 2004

February 24
U.S. Supreme Court upholds Oregon state restrictions on the working hours of women, justified as necessary to protect their health. A laundry owner was fined $10 for making a female employee work more than 10 hours in a single day - 1908

Women and children textile strikers beaten by Lawrence, Mass. police during a 63 day walkout protesting low wages and work speedups - 1912

February 25
Amalgamated Association of Street & Electric Railway Employees of America change name to Amalgamated Transit Union - 1965

The Order of Railroad Telegraphers change name to Transportation-Communication Employees Union - 1965

February 26
Congress okays the Contract Labor Law, designed to clamp down on "business agents" who contracted abroad for immigrant labor. One of the reasons unions supported the measure: employers were using foreign workers to fight against the growing U.S. labor movement, primarily by deploying immigrant labor to break strikes - 1885

Bethlehem Steel workers strike for union recognition, Bethlehem, Penn. - 1941

A coal slag heap doubling as a dam in West Virginia’s Buffalo Creek Valley collapsed, flooding the 17-mile long valley. 118 died, 5,000 were left homeless. The Pittston Coal Co. said it was "an Act of God." - 1972

A 20-week strike by 70,000 Southern California supermarket workers ends, with both sides claiming victory - 2004

February 27
Legendary labor leader and socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs becomes charter member and secretary of the Vigo Lodge, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. Five years later he is leading the national union and in 1893 helps found the nation’s first industrial union, the American Railway Union - 1875

Birth of John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif.  Steinbeck is best known for writing “The Grapes of Wrath,” which exposed the mistreatment of migrant farm workers during the Depression and led to some reforms - 1902

Thirty-eight miners die in a coal mine explosion in Boissevain, Va. - 1932

450 Woolworth’s workers and customers occupy store for eight days in support of Waiters and Waitresses Union, Detroit - 1937

The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal - 1939

Mine disaster kills 75 at Red Lodge, Mont. - 1943


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