IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History


June 13
American Railway Union, headed by Eugene V. Debs, founded – 1893


Tony Mazzocchi born in Brooklyn, N.Y. An activist and officer in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union, he was a mentor to Karen Silkwood, a founder of the Labor Party and a prime mover behind the 1970 passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act - 1926 (Read more in The Killing of Karen Silkwood, Richard Rashke's groundbreaking book about the death of union activist Karen Silkwood, an employee of a plutonium processing plant, who was killed in a mysterious car crash on her way to deliver important documents to a newspaper reporter in 1974. In the UCS bookstore now.)

June 14
The first commercial computer, UNIVAC I, is installed at the U.S. Census Bureau - 1951

June 15
The Metal Trades Department of what is now the AFL-CIO is founded - 1908

The Congress of Industrial Organizations expels the Fur and Leather Workers union and the American Communications Association for what it describes as communist activities - 1947

Battle of Century City, as police in Los Angeles attack some 500 janitors and their supporters during a peaceful Service Employees International Union demonstration against cleaning contractor ISS. The event generated public outrage that resulted in recognition of the workers' union and spurred the creation of an annual June 15 Justice for Janitors Day – 1990


June 16
Eight local unions organize the International Fur Workers Union of U.S. and Canada. The union later merged with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen - 1913

Railroad union leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs speaks in Canton, Ohio on the relation between capitalism and war. Ten days later he is arrested under the Espionage Act, eventua
lly sentenced to 10 years in jail - 1918 (read more in The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs, Ray Ginger's biography of Debs, founder of one of the nation’s first industrial unions, the American Railway Union, who went on to help launch the Industrial Workers of the World -- the Wobblies. In the UCS bookstore now.)

National Industrial Recovery Act becomes law, establishes the right to unionize, sets maximum hours and minimum wages for every major industry, abolishes sweatshops and child labor - 1933

Inacom Corp., once the world's largest computer dealer, sends most of its 5,100 employees an e-mail instructing them to call a toll-free phone number; when they call, a recorded message announces they have been fired - 2000

June 17
Susan B. Anthony goes on trial in Canandaigua, N.Y. for casting her ballot in a federal election the previous November, in violation of existing statutes barring women from the vote - 1873

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones leads a rally in Philadelphia to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state's textile mills. Three weeks later the 73-year-old will lead a march to New York City to plead with President Theodore Roosevelt to help improve conditions for the children - 1903

Twelve trade unionists meet in Pittsburgh to launch a drive to organize all steelworkers. It was the birth of the United Steelworkers of America (then called the Steel Workers Organizing Committee). By the end of the year 125,000 workers joined the union in support of its $5-a-day wage demand - 1936

June 18
Union and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph and others meet with Pres. Roosevelt about a proposed July 1 March on Washington to protest discrimination in war industries. A week later, Roosevelt orders that the industries desegregate - 1941
(Read more in A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait, the fascinating biography of a great American hero who was not only the most famous African American labor leader of his time, but also a key figure in the civil rights movement. In the UCS bookstore now.)

June 19
Eight-hour work day adopted for federal employees - 1912

AFL President Sam Gompers and Secretary of War Newton Baker sign an agreement establishing a three-member board of adjustment to control wages, hours and working conditions for construction workers employed on government projects.  The agreement protected union wage and hour standards for the duration of World War I - 1917

The first important sit-down strike in American history is conducted by workers at a General Tire Co. factory in Akron, Ohio.  The United Rubber Workers
union was founded a year later – 1934

The Women’s Day Massacre in Youngstown, Ohio, when police use tear gas on women and children, including at least one infant in his mother's arms, during a strike at Republic Steel. One union organizer later recalled, "When I got there I thought the Great War had started over again. Gas was flying all over the place and shots flying and flares going up and it was the first time I had ever seen anything like it in my life..." - 1937

ILWU begins a four day general strike in sugar, pineapple, and longshore to protest convictions under the anti-communist Smith Act of seven activists, "the Hawai’i Seven." The convictions were later overturned by a federal appeals court - 1953


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