IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

August 01
After organizing a strike of metal miners against the Anaconda Company, Wobblie organizer Frank Little is dragged by six masked men from his Butte, Mont. hotel room and hung from the Milwaukee Railroad trestle. Years later writer Dashiell Hammett would recall his early days as a Pinkerton detective agency operative and recount how a mine company representative offered him $5,000 to kill Little. Hammett says he quit the business that night - 1917
Sid Hatfield, police chief of Matewan, W. Va., a longtime supporter of the United Mine Workers union, is murdered by company goons. This soon led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, a labor uprising also referred to as the Red Neck War – 1921 (The Battle of Blair Mountain Historic Site is one of nearly 200 labor-related monuments, plaques and other markers described in the Inventory of American Labor Landmarks, published by the Labor Heritage Foundation. Great history, great inspiration, and a great source of potential daytrips and vacation stopovers.)
Police in Hilo, Hawaii open fire on 200 demonstrators supporting striking waterfront workers. The attack became known as "the Hilo Massacre" - 1938
The American Federation of Musicians begins a strike against the major American recording companies in a fight over royalty payments.  Decca records settled with the union after one year, followed shortly by Capitol Records, while Victor and Columbia held out for another year before agreeing to the union’s terms.  The strike did not affect musicians performing on live radio shows or in concerts - 1942
A 17-day, company-instigated wildcat strike in Philadelphia tries to bar eight African-American trolley operators from working. Transport Workers Union members stay on the job in support of the men - 1944
Government & Civic Employees Organizing Committee merges into State, County & Municipal Employees - 1956
Window Glass Cutters League of America merges with Glass Bottle Blowers - 1975
Ten-month strike against Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel wins agreement guaranteeing defined-benefit pensions for 4,500 Steelworkers - 1997
California School Employees Association affiliates with AFL-CIO - 2001
August 02
Hatch Act is passed, limiting political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government – 1939 (The Essential Guide To Federal Employment Laws is a well-indexed book, updated in 2011, offering the full text of 20 federal laws affecting workers’ lives, along with plain-English explanations of each. An entire chapter is devoted to each law, explaining what is allowed and prohibited and what businesses must comply. The 3rd edition was updated in 2011 to reflect the latest laws and U.S. Supreme Court decisions.)
August 03
Uriah Smith Stephens born in Cape May, NJ.  A tailor by trade, in 1869 he led nine Philadelphia garment workers to found the Knights of Labor - 1821
Florence Reece dies in Knoxville, Tenn. at 86. She was a Mine Workers union activist and author of "Which Side Are You On?", written after her home was ransacked by Harlan County county sheriff J.H. Blair and his thugs during a 1931 strike - 1986
15,000 air traffic controllers strike. President Reagan threatens to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they "have forfeited their jobs" if they do not. Most stay out, and are fired August 5 - 1981
August 04
The Amalgamated Assn. of Iron and Steel Workers is formed. It partnered with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, CIO in 1935; both organizations disbanded in 1942 to form the new United Steelworkers - 1876
15,000 silk workers strike in Paterson, N.J. for 44 hour week - 1919
185,000 Teamsters begin what is to become a successful 15-day strike at United Parcel Service over excessive use of part-timers - 1997
August 05
Using clubs, police rout 1,500 jobless men who had stormed the plant of the Fruit Growers Express Co. in Indiana Harbor, Indiana, demanding jobs - 1931
During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the National Labor Board to enforce the right of collective bargaining.  Ultimately declared illegal by the Supreme Court, it was replaced two years later by the National Labor Relations Board - 1933
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect today. The first law signed by President Clinton, it allows many workers time off each year due to serious health conditions or to care for a family member – 1993
(The FMLA Handbook is a thorough, highly readable handbook, updated and expanded in early 2009, that will help every worker get the most out of the surprisingly comprehensive 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. It explains how unions can protect workers who are absent from work for justifiable medical or family-care reasons; block compulsory "light-duty" work programs; force employers to allow part-time schedules; obtain attendance bonuses for workers absent for medical reasons; and much more. An important tool for every union’s arsenal.)
August 06
Cigarmakers' International Union of America merges with Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union - 1974
American Railway Supervisors Association merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees - 1980
Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of the US & Canada merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees - 1986
Workers at Verizon, the nation’s largest local telephone company, launch what is to become an 18-day strike over working conditions and union representation - 2000

August 07

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Wobblie organizer, born - 1890
Eugene Debs and three other trade unionists arrested after Pullman Strike - 1894

Actors Equity is recognized by producers after stagehands honor their picket lines, shutting down almost every professional stage production in the
country. Before unionizing, it was common practice for actors to pay for their own costumes, rehearse long hours without pay, and be fired without notice - 1919
United Slate, Tile & Composition Roofers, Damp & Waterproof Workers Association change name to Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers - 1978

Some 675,000 employees struck ATT Corp. over wages, job security, pension plan changes and better health insurance. It was the last time CWA negotia
ted at one table for all its Bell System members: divestiture came a few months later. The strike was won after 22 days - 1983
Television writers, members of The Writers Guild of America, end a 22-week strike with a compromise settlement - 1988

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