IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


This Week in Labor History

 

April 4
Unemployed riot in New York City’s Union Square - 1914

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, where he has been supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.  In the wake of this tragedy, riots break out in many cities, including Washington, DC - 1968
 
Some 1,700 United Mine Workers members in Virginia and West Virginia beat back concessions demanded by Pittston Coal Co. - 1989
 
April 05
Columnist Victor Riesel, a crusader against mob infiltration of unions, was blinded in New York City when a hired assailant threw sulfuric acid in his face - 1956
 
14,000 teachers strike Hawaii schools, colleges - 2001
 
A huge underground explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W. Va. kills 29 miners. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 40 years. The Massey Energy Co. mine had been cited for 2 safety infractions the day before the blast; 57 the month before, and 1,342 in the previous five years - 2010
 
April 06
The first slave revolt in the U.S. occurs at a slave market in New York City’s Wall Street area. Twenty-one blacks were executed for killing nine whites. The city responded by strengthening its slave codes - 1712
 
Birth of Rose Schneiderman, prominent member of the New York Women's Trade Union League, an active participant in the Uprising of the 20,000, the massive strike of shirtwaist workers in New York City led by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union in 1909, and famous for an angry speech about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire: “Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers…Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement” - 1882
 
A sympathy strike by Chicago Teamsters in support of clothing workers leads to daily clashes between strikebreakers and armed police against hundreds and sometimes thousands of striking workers and their supporters. By the time the fight ended after 103 days, 21 people had been killed and 416 injured - 1905
 
What was to become a two-month strike by minor league umpires begins, largely over money: $5,500 to $15,000 for a season running 142 games. The strike ended with a slight improvement in pay - 2006
 
April 07
National Labor Relations Board attorney tells ILWU members to “lie down like good dogs,” Juneau, Alaska - 1947
 
Some 300,000 members of the National Federation of Telephone Workers, soon to become CWA, strike AT&T and the Bell System. Within five weeks all but two of the 39 federation unions had won new contracts - 1947
 
15,000 union janitors strike, Los Angeles - 2000

 
April 08
128 convict miners, leased to a coal company under the state’s shameful convict lease system, are killed in an explosion at the Banner coal mine outside Birmingham, Ala. The miners were mostly African-Americans jailed for minor offenses - 1911
 
President Wilson establishes the War Labor Board, composed of representatives from business and labor, to arbitrate disputes between workers and employers during World War I - 1918
 
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is approved by Congress. President Franklin Roosevelt proposed the WPA during the Great Depression of the 1930s when almost 25 percent of Americans were unemployed. It created low-paying federal jobs providing immediate relief, putting 8.5 million jobless to work on projects ranging from construction of bridges, highways and public buildings to arts programs like the Federal Writers' Project - 1935
 
President Harry S Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize the nation’s steel mills to avert a strike. The Supreme Court ruled the act illegal three weeks later - 1952
 
April 09
IWW organizes the 1,700 member crew of the Leviathan, then the world’s largest vessel - 1930
 
April 10
Birth date of Frances Perkins, named Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, becoming the first woman to hold a cabinet-level office - 1880
 
133 people, mostly women and girls, are killed when an explosion in the loading room tears apart the Eddystone Ammunition Works in Eddystone, Pa., near Chester. Fifty-five of the dead were never identified - 1917
 
Birth of Dolores Huerta, a co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers - 1930
 
Dancers from the Lusty Lady Club in San Francisco’s North Beach ratify their first-ever union contract by a vote of 57-15, having won representaion by SEIU Local 790 the previous summer. The club later became a worker-owned cooperative - 1997
 
Tens of thousands of immigrants demonstrate in 100 U.S. cities in a national day of action billed as a campaign for immigrants’ dignity. Some
200,000 gathered in Washington, D.C. - 2006  

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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