IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

July 25
Workers stage a general strike -- believed to be the nation’s first -- in St. Louis, in support of striking railroad workers. The successful strike was ended when some 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 deputized special police killed at least eighteen people in skirmishes around the city - 1877
New York garment workers win closed shop and firing of scabs after 7-month strike - 1890
The Teamsters and Service Employees unions break from the AFL-CIO during the federation's 50th convention to begin the Change to Win coalition, ultimately comprised of seven unions. They say they want more emphasis on organizing and less on electoral politics - 2005
July 26
In Chicago, 30 workers are killed by federal troops, more than 100 wounded at the "Battle of the Viaduct" during the Great Railroad Strike – 1877 (There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America is Philip Dray’s sympathetic, thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement, tracing unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today. In The UCS bookstore now)
President Grover Cleveland appoints a United States Strike Committee to investigate the causes of the Pullman strike and the subsequent strike by the American Railway Union. Later that year the commission issues its report, absolving the strikers and blaming Pullman and the railroads for the conflict - 1894
Battle of Mucklow, W.Va. in coal strike. An estimated 100,000 shots were fired; 12 miners and four guards were killed - 1912
President Truman issues Executive Order 9981, directing equality of opportunity in armed forces - 1948
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect today. It requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to qualified disabled employees and bans discrimination against such workers - 1992
July 27
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died - 1869
July 28
Women shoemakers in Lynn, Mass. create Daughters of St. Crispin, demand pay equal to that of men - 1869
Harry Bridges is born in Australia. He came to America as a sailor at age 19 and went on to help form and lead the militant International Longshore and Warehouse Union for more than 40 years - 1901
A strike by Paterson, N.J. silk workers for an eight-hour day, improved working conditions ends after six months, with the workers’ demands unmet. During the course of the strike, approximately 1,800 strikers were arrested, including Wobblie leaders Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn - 1913

Federal troops burn the shantytown built near the U.S. Capitol by thousands of unemployed WWI veterans, camping there to demand a bonus they had been promised but never received - 1932
Nine miners are rescued in Sommerset, Pa. after being trapped for 77 hours 240 feet underground in the flooded Quecreek Mine - 2002
July 29
The Coast Seamen's Union merges with the Steamship Sailor's Union to form the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific - 1891
A preliminary delegation from Mother Jones' March of the Mill Children from Philadelphia to Pres. Theodore Roosevelt's summer home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, publicizing the harsh conditions of child labor, arrives today. They are not allowed through the gates - 1903

Following a five-year table grape boycott, Delano-area growers file into the United Farm Workers union hall in Delano, Calif. to sign their first union contracts – 1970  (Farmworker’s Friend: The story of Cesar Chavez  is one of four UCS books on the UFW founder. This sympathetic portrayal of Chavez and his life’s work begins with his childhood and traces his growth as a man and as a leader, talking of his pacifism, his courage in the face of great threats and greater odds, his leadership and his view that the union was more than just a union, it was a community -- una causa. Recommended by the publisher for grades 4 to 7, its straightforward narrative and dozens of photos help make this a wonderful book, and not just for young people. In the UCS bookstore now)
July 30
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Act, providing federally-funded health insurance for senior citizens - 1964
Former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappears. Presumed to be dead, his body has never been found - 1975
United Airlines agrees to offer domestic-partner benefits to employees and retirees worldwide - 1999
July 31
Members of the National Football League Players Association begin what is to be a two-day strike, their first. The issues: pay, pensions, the right to arbitration and the right to have agents - 1970
Fifty-day baseball strike ends - 1981
The Great Shipyard Strike of 1999 ends after Steelworkers at Newport News Shipbuilding ratify a breakthrough agreement which nearly doubles pensions, increases security, ends inequality, and provides the highest wage increases in company and industry history to nearly 10,000 workers at the yard. The strike lasted 15 weeks - 1999

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