IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


Today in labor history for the week of March 20, 2011  


March 21
American Labor Union founded - 1853
 
March 22
Mark Twain, a lifelong member of the International Typographical Union (now part of CWA), speaks in Hartford, Conn., extolling the Knights of Labor’s commitment to fair treatment of all workers, regardless of race or gender - 1886
 
State and local police in Rhode Island use tear gas on some 800 IAM picketers striking the Browne & Sharp machine tool manufacturing company in North Kingstown. Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy later publicly apologized for the actions of police - 1982
 
A bitter six and one-half year UAW strike at Caterpillar Inc. ends. The strike and settlement, which included a two-tier wage system and other concessions, deeply divided the union - 1998
 
March 23
Trial of 101 Wobblies, charged with opposing the draft and hindering the war effort, begins in Chicago - 1918
 
Norris-La Guardia Act restricts injunctions against unions and bans yellow dog contracts, which require newly-hired workers to declare they are not union members and will not join one - 1932
 
Five days into the Post Office’s first mass work stoppage in 195 years, President Nixon declares a national emergency and orders 30,000 troops to New York City to break the strike. The troops didn’t have a clue how to sort and deliver mail: a settlement came a few days later - 1970
 
Coalition of Labor Union Women founded in Chicago by some 3,000 delegates from 58 unions and other organizations - 1974
 
March 24
Groundbreaking on the first section of the New York City subway system, from City Hall to the Bronx. According to the New York Times, this was a worker’s review of the digging style of the well-dressed Subway Commissioners: "I wouldn't give th' Commish'ners foive cents a day fer a digging job. They're too shtiff" - 1900
 
March 25
Toronto printers strike for the 9-hour day in what is believed to be Canada’s first major strike - 1872
 
First “Poor People’s March” on Washington, in which jobless workers demanded creation of a public works program.  Led by populist Jacob Coxey, the 500 to 1,000 unemployed protesters became known as “Coxey’s Army” - 1894
 
146 workers are killed in a fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a disaster that would launch a national movement for safer working conditions - 1911
 
An explosion at a coal mine in Centralia, Ill. kills 111 miners. Mineworkers President John L. Lewis calls a six day work stoppage by the nation’s 400,000 soft coal miners to demand safer working conditions - 1947
 
The U.S. Supreme Court rules employers may sometimes favor women and members of minority groups over men and whites in hiring and promoting in order to achieve better balance in the work force - 1987
 
March 26
San Francisco brewery workers begin a 9 month strike as local employers follow the union-busting lead of the National Brewer’s Assn. and fire their unionized workers, replacing them with scabs. Two unionized brewers refused to go along, kept producing beer, prospered wildly and induced the Association to capitulate. A contract benefit since having unionized two years earlier, certainly worth defending: free beer - 1868
 

March 27
U.S. Supreme Court rules that undocumented workers do not have the same rights as Americans when they are wrongly fired - 2002  

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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