IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

Today in Labor History
June 27
Emma Goldman, women's rights activist and radical, born in Lithuania. She came to the U.S. at age 17 - 1869
The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the "Wobblies," is founded at a 12-days-long convention in Chicago. The Wobblie motto: "An injury to one is an injury to all." - 1905
Congress passes the National Labor Relations Act, creating the structure for collective bargaining in the United States - 1935
A 26-day strike of New York City hotels by 26,000 workers – the first such walkout in 50 years – ends with a five-year contract calling for big wage and benefit gains - 1985
A.E. Staley locks out 763 workers in Decatur, Ill. The lockout was to last two and one-half years – 1993  (Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor Movement chronicles one of the most hard-fought struggles in recent labor history. Authors Steven K. Ashby and C.J. Hawking explore how Allied Industrial Workers Local 837 responded to the company’s full-scale assault by educating and mobilizing its members, organizing strong support from the religious and African American communities, building a nationwide solidarity movement, and engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the plant gates. In the UCS bookstore now.)
June 28
Birthday of machinist Matthew Maguire, who many believe first suggested Labor Day. Others believe it was Peter McGuire, a carpenter - 1850
President Grover Cleveland signs legislation declaring Labor Day an official U.S. holiday - 1894
The federal government sues the Teamsters to force reforms on the union, the nation's largest. The following March, the government and the union sign a consent decree requiring direct election of the union's president and creation of an Independent Review Board - 1988
June 29
What is to be a 7-day streetcar strike begins in Chicago after several workers are unfairly fired. Wrote the police chief at the time, describing the strikers’ response to scabs: "One of my men said he was at the corner of Halsted and Madison Streets, and although he could see fifty stones in the air, he couldn't tell where they were coming from." The strike was settled to the workers’ satisfaction - 1885
An Executive Order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the National Labor Relations Board.  A predecessor organization, the National Labor Board, established by the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933, was struck down by the Supreme Court - 1934
IWW strikes Weyerhauser and other Idaho lumber camps - 1936
Jesus Pallares, founder of the 8,000-member coal miners union, Liga Obrera de Habla Esanola, is deported as an "undesirable alien." The union operated in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado - 1936
The Boilermaker and Blacksmith unions merge to become International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers - 1954
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in CWA v. Beck that, in a union security agreement, a union can collect as dues from non-members only that money necessary to perform its duties as a collective bargaining representative - 1988
June 30
Alabama outlaws the leasing of convicts to mine coal, a practice that had been in place since 1848. In 1898, 73 percent of the state's total revenue came from this source. 25 percent of all black leased convicts died - 1928
The Walsh-Healey Act took effect today. It requires companies that supply goods to the government to pay wages according to a schedule set by the Secretary of Labor - 1936
The storied Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, a union whose roots traced back to the militant Western Federation of Miners, and which helped found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), merges into the United Steelworkers of America - 1967

Up to 40,000 New York construction workers demonstrated in midtown Manhattan, protesting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s awarding of a $33 million contract to a nonunion company. Eighteen police and three demonstrators were injured. "There were some scattered incidents and some minor violence," Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the New York Post. "Generally, it was a pretty well-behaved crowd." - 1998
July 01
Steel workers in Cleveland begin what was to be an 88-week strike against wage cuts - 1885
Homestead, Pennsylvania steel strike.  Seven strikers and three Pinkertons killed as Andrew Carnegie hires armed thugs to protect strikebreakers - 1892
The Amalgamated Assn. of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers stages what is to become an unsuccessful three-month strike against U.S. Steel Corp. Subsidiaries - 1901
One million railway shopmen strike - 1922
Some 1,100 streetcar workers strike in New Orleans, spurring the creation of the po’ boy sandwich by a local sandwich shop owner and one-time streetcar man. "Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming," Bennie Martin later recalled, "one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’" Martin and his wife fed any striker who showed up - 1929
Nat'l Assn. of Post Office & General Service Maintenance Employees, United Fed. of Postal Clerks, Nat'l Fed. of Post Office Motor Vehicle Employees & Nat'l Assn. of Special Delivery Messengers merge to become American Postal Workers Union - 1971
International Jewelry Workers Union merges with Service Employees International Union - 1980
Graphic Arts International Union merges with International Printing & Graphic Communications Union to become Graphic Communications International Union, now a conference of the Teamsters - 1983
Copper miners begin a years-long long, bitter strike against Phelps-Dodge in Clifton, Ariz. Democratic Gov. Bruce Babbitt repeatedly deployed state police and National Guardsmen to assist the company over the course of the strike, which broke the union – 1983 (Strikes Around the World: Case Studies of 15 Countries examines whether strikes are going out of fashion or are an inevitable feature of working life. This unique study draws on the experience of fifteen countries around the world -- The United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Covering the high and low points of strike activity over the period 1968–2005, the study shows continuing evidence of the durability, adaptability and necessity of the strike. In the UCS bookstore now.)
Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union merges with International Ladies' Garment Workers Union to form Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees - 1995
International Chemical Workers Union merges with United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l Union - 1996
The Newspaper Guild merges with Communications Workers of America - 1997
United American Nurses affiliate with the AFL-CIO - 2001
July 02

President Johnson signs Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbidding employers and unions from discriminating on the basis of race, color, gender, nationality, or religion - 1964
The Labor Dept. reports that U.S. employers cut 467,000 jobs over the prior month, driving the nation’s unemployment rate up to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent - 2009
July 03

Children, employed in the silk mills in Paterson, N.J., went on strike for 11-hour day and 6-day week. A compromise settlement resulted in a 69-hour work work week - 1835
Feminist and labor activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman born in Hartford, Conn. Her landmark study, "Women and Economics", was radical: it called for the financial independence of women and urged a network of child care centers - 1860
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