IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


This Week in Labor History for the week of March 6, 2011


March 07
6,000 shoemakers, joined by about 20,000 other workers, strike in Lynn, Mass. They won raises, but not recognition of their union - 1860

3,000 unemployed auto workers, led by the Communist Party of America, braved the cold in Dearborn, Mich. to demand jobs and relief from Henry Ford. The marchers got too close to the gate and were gassed. After re-grouping, they were sprayed with water and shot at.  Four men died immediately, 60 were wounded - 1932

Steel Workers Organizing Committee – soon to become the United Steel Workers – signs its first-ever contract, with Carnegie-Illinois, for $5 a day in wages, benefits - 1937

IWW founder and labor organizer Lucy Parsons dies - 1942

Musicians strike Broadway musicals and shows go dark when actors and stagehands honor picket lines. The strike was resolved after four days - 2003

March 08
Thousands of New York needle trades workers demonstrate for higher wages, shorter workday, and end to child labor. The demonstration became the basis for International Women’s Day - 1908

Three explosions at a Utah Fuel Co. mine in Castle Gate, Utah kill 171. Fifty of the fatalities were native-born Greeks, 25 were Italians, 32 English or Scots, 12 Welsh, four Japanese, and three Austrians (or South Slavs). The youngest victim was 15; the oldest, 73 - 1924

New York members of the Fur and Leather Workers Union, many of them women, strike for better pay and conditions. They persevere despite beatings by police, winning a 10 percent wage increase and five-day work week - 1926

The Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act took effect on this day. It limits the ability of federal judges to issue injunctions against workers and unions involved in labor disputes - 1932

César Chávez leads 5,000 striking farmworkers on a march through the streets of Salinas, Calif. - 1979

March 09
The Westmoreland County (Pa.) Coal Strike – known as the "Slovak strike" because some 70 percent of the 15,000 strikers were Slovakian immigrants – begins on this date and continues for nearly 16 months before ending in defeat. Sixteen miners and family members were killed during the strike - 1912

Work begins on the $8 billion, 800-mile-long Alaska Oil pipeline connecting oil fields in northern Alaska to the sea port at Valdez. Tens
of thousands of people worked on the pipeline, enduring long hours, cold temperatures, and brutal conditions. At least 32 died on the job - 1974

March 10
U.S. Supreme Court upholds espionage conviction of labor leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs. Debs was jailed for speaking out against World War I. Campaigning for president from his Atlanta jail cell, he won 6 percent of the vote - 1919

New York City bus drivers, members of the Transport Workers Union, go on strike. After 12 days of no buses – and a large show of force by Irish-American strikers at the St. Patrick’s Day parade – Mayor Fiorello La Guardia orders arbitration - 1941

United Farm Workers leader César Chávez breaks a 24-day fast, by doctor’s order, at a mass in Delano, California’s public park. Several thousand supporters are at his side, including Sen. Robert Kennedy. Chavez called it “a fast for non-violence and a call to sacrifice” - 1968

March 11
Luddites smash 63 “labor saving” textile machines near Nottingham, England - 1811

Fabled railroad engineer John Luther “Casey” Jones born in southeast Missouri. A member of the Railroad Engineers, he was the sole fatality in a wreck near Vaughan, Miss. on April 29, 1900. His skill and heroics prevented many more deaths - 1863

Transport Workers Union members at American Airlines win 11-day national strike, gaining what the union says was the first severance pay clause in industry - 1950

March 12
Greedy industrialist turned benevolent philanthropist Andrew Carnegie pledges $5.2 million for the construction of 65 branch libraries in New York City -- barely 1 percent of his net worth at the time. He established more than 2,500 libraries between 1900 and 1919 following years of treating workers in his steel plants brutally, demanding long hours in horrible conditions and fighting their efforts to unionize. Carnegie made $500 million when he sold out to J.P. Morgan, becoming the world’s richest man - 1901

The Lawrence, Mass. "Bread and Roses" textile strike ends when the American Woolen Co. agrees to most of the strikers’ demands; other textile companies quickly followed suit - 1912

Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995, born in Camden, South Carolina - 1922

Steelworkers approve a settlement with Oregon Steel Mills, Inc. and its CF&I Steel subsidiary, ending the longest labor dispute in the USWA’s history and resulting in more than $100 million in back pay for workers - 2004

March 13
A four-month UAW strike at General Motors ends with a new contract. The strikers were trying to make up for the lack of wage hikes during World War II - 1946


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