IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

July 18
The Brotherhood of Telegraphers begins an unsuccessful three-week strike against the Western Union Telegraph Co - 1883

35,000 Chicago stockyard workers strike - 1919

Hospital workers win 113-day union recognition strike in Charleston, S.C. - 1969

July 19
Women's Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, N.Y.  Delegates adopt a Declaration of Women's Rights and call for women's suffrage – 1848 (In I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions, Amy Caizza notes that although nearly half of union members in the United States are female, little more than one leadership position in five is held by a woman. This report is designed to promote women’s activism and leadership within unions across the country at the local, state, regional, and national levels. The report outlines seven strategies that unions can use to encourage women’s increased participation in a workforce that is increasingly female. In the UCS bookstore now.)

An amendment to the 1939 Hatch Act, a federal law whose main provision prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, is amended to also cover state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds - 1940

July 20
New York City newsboys, many so poor that they were sleeping in the streets, begin a two-week strike. Several rallies drew more than 5,000 newsboys, complete with charismatic speeches by strike leader Kid Blink, who was blind in one eye. The boys had to pay publishers up front for the newspapers; they were successful in forcing the publishers to buy back unsold papers - 1899

Two killed, 67 wounded in Minneapolis truckers' strike -- "Bloody Friday" - 1934

Postal unions, Postal Service sign first labor contract in the history of the federal government - 1971

July 21
Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers "a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread." Instead, the militiamen joined the workers. Meanwhile, federal troops are sent to Baltimore, where they kill 10 strikers and wound 25 - 1877

Compressed air explosion kills 20 workers constructing railroad tunnel under the Hudson River - 1880

IWW leads a strike at Hodgeman's Blueberry Farm in Grand Junction, Mich. - 1964

Radio station WCFL, owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor, takes to the airwaves with two hours of music. The first and only labor-owned radio station in the country, WCFL was sold in 1979 - 1926

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich. is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human - 1984 (Flint, Mich. native son Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men -- 2002’s best selling non-fiction book – still hits home today. Equal parts biting humor and penetrating insight, Moore expounds on everything from George W. Bush ("Thief-in-Chief") to How Women Can Survive Without Men to calling for African Americans to place WHITES ONLY signs over unfriendly businesses. In the UCS bookstore now.)

July 22
Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, six-day week, and a board of arbitration - 1886

A bomb was set off during a "Preparedness Day" parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Tom Mooney, a labor organizer, and Warren Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted of the crime, but both were pardoned 23 years later - 1916

July 23
Anarchist Alexander Berkman shoots and stabs but fails to kill steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in an effort to avenge the Homestead massacre 18 days earlier, in which nine strikers were killed. Berkman also tried to use what was, in effect, a suicide bomb, but it didn't detonate - 1892

Northern Michigan copper miners strike for union recognition, higher wages and eight-hour day. By the time they threw in the towel the following April, 1,100 had been arrested on various charges and Western Federation of Miners President Charles Moyer had been shot, beaten and forced out of town - 1913

Aluminum Workers Int'l Union merges with The United Brick & Clay Workers of America to form Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers - 1981

July 24
The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), later to be joined by several smaller unions. The ALA's agenda included support of the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Viet Nam. It disbanded after four years following the death of UAW President Walter Reuther - 1968

The U.S. minimum wage increases to $6.55 per hour today. The original minimum, set in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, was 25 cents per hour - 2008

U.S. minimum wage rises to $7.25 per hour, up from $6.55 – 2009

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