IBEW Local 131 Information Center

This Week In Labor History

August 22
Five flight attendants form the Air Line Stewardesses Association, the first labor union representing flight attendants. They were reacting to an industry in which women were forced to retire at the age of 32, remain single, and adhere to strict weight, height and appearance requirements. The association later became the Association of Flight Attendants, now a division of the Communications Workers of America - 1945

International Broom & Whisk Makers Union disbanded - 1963

Joyce Miller, a vice president of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers, becomes first female member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council - 1980

International Longshore & Warehouse Union granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1988
August 23
The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies to capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism. The New York Herald characterized the Commission's president, Frank P. Walsh, as "a Mother Jones in trousers" - 1912

Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world - 1927

Seven merchant seamen crewing the SS Baton Rouge Victory lost their lives when the ship was sunk by Viet Cong action en route to Saigon - 1966

Farm Workers Organizing Committee (to later become United Farm Workers of America) granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1966

The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act is modified, setting the minimum salary for exemption from overtime at  $455 per week, or $23,600 per year.  Employees earning less than that are now guaranteed overtime, regardless of whether they are hourly or salaried - 2004
August 24
The Mechanics Gazette, believed to be the first U.S. labor newspaper, is published in Philadelphia, the outgrowth of a strike by Carpenters demanding a shorter, 10-hour day. The strike was lost but labor journalism blossomed: within five years there were 68 labor newspapers across the country, many of them dailies – 1827 (If you’re tired of your union being ignored by your local media and fed up with the way your employer’s side of the story always gets told, you’ll want a copy of Making the News: A Guide for Nonprofits and Activists. Author Jason Salzman is an expert in getting positive media attention for nonprofit groups and activists and Making the News explains the basics of how to talk to reporters, how to do a news release, ways to “create” a news event, how to get invited to (and sound good during) radio and TV interviews. You can bet the boss has a PR operation. Now you can, too, without fear. In the UCS bookstore now.)

The Gatling Gun Co. -- manufacturers of an early machine gun -- writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the "recent riotous disturbances around the country." Says the company: "Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling ... can clear a street or block and keep it clear" - 1877

National Association of Letter Carriers formed - 1889

United Farm Workers Union begins lettuce strike - 1970
August 25
Birth of Allan Pinkerton, whose strike-breaking detectives ("Pinks") gave us the word "fink" - 1819

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded at a meeting in New York City. A. Philip Randolph became the union's first organizer - 1925
August 26
Fannie Sellins and Joseph Starzeleski are murdered by coal company guards on a picket line in Brackenridge, Penn. Sellins was a United Mine Workers of America organizer and Starzeleski was a miner - 1919

After three-quarters of the states had ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, women win their long struggle for the vote - 1920 (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. Amy Caizza’s I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions 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. Free shipping on this item, now in the UCS bookstore.)

With America in the depths of the Great Depression, the Comptroller of the Currency announces a temporary halt on foreclosures of first mortgages - 1932

In what some may consider one of the many management decisions that was to help cripple the American auto industry over the following decades, Ford Motor Co. produces its first Edsel. Ford dropped the project two years later after losing approximately $350 million - 1957

After 20 months of bargaining, United Airlines reaches a tentative accord with the Air Line Pilots Assn., representing 10,000 pilots - 2000

More than 1,300 bus drivers on Oahu, Hawaii begin what is to become a five week strike - 2003
August 27
Some 14,000 Chicago teachers who have gone without pay for several months finally collect about $1,400 each - 1934

President Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize all the nation's railroads to prevent a general strike. The railroads were not returned to their owners until two years later - 1950
August 28
The march for jobs and freedom -- the Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have A Dream" speech march -- is held in Washington, D.C. with 250,000 participating - 1963 (Martin Luther King, Jr., and the March on Washington is an excellent children’s introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, using the March as a point of reference as it talks about segregation in America and the battle for equal rights. Photos and illustrations help make real not just that dramatic day, at which Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, but also the harsh societal realities that led up to that dramatic moment in history. In the UCS bookstore now.)

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