IBEW Local 131 Information Center




This Week In Labor History




August 29
Dancers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady Club vote 57-15 to be represented by SEIU Local 790. Their first union contract, ratified eight months later, guaranteed work shifts, protection against arbitrary discipline and termination, automatic hourly wage increases, sick days, a grievance procedure, and removal of one-way mirrors from peep show booths - 1996

Northwest Airlines pilots, after years of concessions to help the airline, begin what is to become a two-week strike for higher pay - 1998


Delegates to the Minnesota AFL-CIO convention approve the launching of workdayminnesota.org, now in its 11th year. It was the first web-based daily labor news service by a state labor federation - 2000

The CEOs of large American companies made an average of $10.8 million in 2006, more than 364 times the average pay of American workers, reported the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy - 2007

August 30
Delegates from several East Coast cities meet in convention to form the National Trades' Union, uniting craft unions to oppose "the most unequal and unjustifiable distribution of the wealth of society in the hands of a few individuals." The union faded after a few years - 1834

President Franklin Roosevelt's Wealth Tax Act increases taxes on rich citizens and big business, lowers taxes for small businesses - 1935

OSHA publishes scaffold safety standard, designed to protect 2.3 million construction workers and prevent 50 deaths and 4,500 injuries annually - 1996
(Preventing Occupational Disease and Injury is an invaluable compendium of information on more than 100 illnesses and other health problems caused in whole or in part by various occupations, accompanied by professional advice on tools to respond to, control and eliminate job-related diseases and injuries. In the UCS bookstore now.)

August 31
John Reed forms the Communist Labor Party in Chicago. The Party’s motto: "Workers of the world unite!" - 1919

10,000 striking miners began a fight at Blair Mountain, W.Va., for recognition of their union, the UMWA. Federal troops were sent in, and miners were forced to withdraw 5 days later, after 16 deaths - 1921

The Trade Union Unity League is founded as an alternative to the American Federation of Labor, with the goal of organizing along industrial rather than craft lines. An arm of the American Communist Party, the League claimed 125,000 members before it dissolved in the late 1930s - 1929

"Solidarity" workers movement founded as a strike coordination committee at Lenin Shipyards, Gdansk, Poland. The strike launched a wave of unrest in the Soviet Union that ultimately led to its dissolution in 1991 - 1980

325,000 unionists gathered in Washington, D.C. for a Solidarity Day march and rally for workplace fairness and healthcare reform - 1991

Detroit teachers begin what is to become a nine day strike, winning smaller class sizes and raises of up to four percent - 1999

September 01
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is founded at a meeting in Chicago, the product of two separate brotherhoods created over the previous 13 years - 1893

Congress declares Labor Day a national holiday - 1894

30,000 women from 26 trades marched in Chicago's Labor Day parade - 1903


Walter Reuther, a founder of the United Auto Workers and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations when it merged with the AFL in 1955, born - 1907

A three-week strike in Woonsocket, R.I., part of a national movement to obtain a minimum wage for textile workers, resulted in the deaths of three workers. Ultimately more than 420,000 workers struck nationally - 1934

In Hawaii, some 26,000 sugar workers represented by the Longshoremen’s union begin what is to become a successful 79-day strike that shuts down 33 of the 34 sugar plantations on the islands. The strike brought an end to Hawaii's paternalistic labor relations and impacted political and social institutions throughout the then-territory - 1946

Int'l Metal Engravers & Marking Device Workers Union changed its name to International Association of Machinists - 1956

Some 20,000 Pennsylvania Railroad shop workers effectively halt operations in 13 states for 12 days. It was the first shutdown in the company's 114-year history - 1960

Boot Shoe Workers' Union merged with Retail Clerks International Union - 1977

The Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists' Int'l Union of America merged with United Food & Commercial Workers - 1980


Glass Bottle Blowers' Association of the United States & Canada merged with Int'l Brotherhood of Pottery & Allied Workers to become Glass, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers - 1982

Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers Int'l Union merged with United Glass & Ceramic Workers of North America to form Int'l Union of Aluminum, Brick & Glass Workers - 1982

Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees changed name to Transportation-Communications Union - 1987

Coopers International Union of North Amercia merged with Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Int'l Union - 1992


The federal minimum wage is increased to $5.15 per hour - 1997

The AFL-CIO creates Working America, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization designed to build alliances among non-union working people - 2003

September 02
White and Chinese immigrants battle in Rock Springs, Wyo. fueled by racial tensions and the practice of Union Pacific Raiload of hiring lower-paid Chinese over whites. At least 25 Chinese died and 15 more were injured. Rioters burned 75 Chinese homes - 1885

Operating railway employees win 8 hour day - 1916

Mineowners bomb West Virginia strikers by plane, using homemade bombs filled with nails and metal fragments. The bombs missed their targets or failed to explode - 1921

President Eisenhower signs legislation expanding Social Security by providing much wider coverage and including 10 million additional Americans, most of them self-employed farmers, with additional benefits - 1954

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed by President Ford, regulating and insuring pensions and other benefits, and increasing protections for workers – 1974
(The Labor Law Source Book is a handy collection that puts the full texts of all the major U.S. labor laws into one book. Includes the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and 15 more. In the UCS bookstore now.)

September 03
African-American cotton pickers organize and strike in Lee County, Tex. against miserably low wages and other injustices, including a growers’ arrangement with local law enforcement to round up blacks on vagrancy charges, then force them to work off their fines on select plantations. Over the course of September a white mob put down the strike, killing 15 strikers in the process - 1891

Some 300 musicians working in Chicago movie houses strike to protest their impending replacement by talking movies - 1928


Twenty-five workers die, unable to escape a fire at the Imperial Poultry processing plant in Hamlet, NC. Managers had locked fire doors to prevent the theft of chicken nuggets. The plant had operated for 11 years without a single safety inspection - 1991

September 04
Twelve thousand New York tailors strike over sweatshop conditions - 1894

International Brotherhood of Bookbinders merged with Graphic Arts International Union - 1972

What many believe was to become the longest strike in U.S. history, 600 Teamster-represented workers walk out at the Diamond Walnut processing plant in Stockton, Calif., after the company refused to restore a 30 percent pay cut they had earlier taken to help out the company. The two sides ultimately agreed to a new contract after 14 years – 1991
(Strike tells you something your school history books almost certainly did not: how working Americans for the past 125 years have used the strike again and again to win a degree of justice and fair play. Author Jeremy Brecher also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s, formed in reaction to the elitist trade unions of the day, to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s. In the UCS bookstore now.)


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