Labor History

April 29
Coxey’s Army of 500 unemployed civil war veterans reaches Washington, D.C. – 1894

An estimated one thousand silver miners, angry over low wages, the firing of union members and the planting of spies in their ranks by mine owners, seize a train, load it with 3,000 pounds of dynamite, and blow up the mill at the Bunker Hill mine in Wardner, Idaho – 1899

The special representative of the National War Labor Board issues a report, “Retroactive Date for Women’s Pay Adjustments,” setting forth provisions for wage rates for women working in war industries who were asking for equal pay.  Women a year earlier had demanded equal pay for comparable work as that done by men – 1943

April 30
An explosion at the Everettville mine in Everettville, W. Va., kills 109 miners, many of whom lie in unmarked graves to this day – 1927

The Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board implements new rules to speed up unionization elections. The new rules are largely seen as a counter to employer manipulation of the law to prevent workers from unionizing – 2012

May 01
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones born in County Cork, Ireland – 1830
(Mother Jones Speaks: Speeches and Writings: Admirers and students of Mother Jones will want this comprehensive collection of her speeches, letters, articles, interviews and testimony before Congressional committees. In her own words, this brave and determined heroine to millions of workers, active from the end of the Civil War until shortly before her death in 1930, explains her life, her mission, her passion on behalf of working people.)

Cigar makers in Cincinnati warn there could be a strike in the fall if factory owners continue to insist that they pay 30¢ per month for gas heat provided at work during mornings and evenings – 1883

Eight-hour day demonstration in Chicago and other cities begins tradition of May Day as international labor holiday – 1886

The Cooks’ and Waiters’ Union strikes in San Francisco, demanding one day of rest per week, a 10-hour work day and a union shop for all restaurants in the city – 1901

Mother Jones’ 100th birthday celebrated at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md. She died six months later – 1930

New York City’s Empire State Building officially opens. Construction involved 3,400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, and hundreds of Mohawk iron workers. Five workers died during construction – 1931

Congress enacts amendments to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, extending protections to the employees of state and local governments—protections which didn’t take effect until 1985 because of court challenges and regulation-writing problems – 1974

The federal minimum wage rises to $2 per hour – 1974

Int’l Molders & Allied Workers Union merges with Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Int’l Union – 1988

Woodworkers of America Int’l merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1994

Int’l Leather Goods, Plastics & Novelty Workers Union merges with Service Employees Int’l Union – 1996

Rallies in cities across the U.S. for what organizers call “A Day Without Immigrants.” An estimated 100,000 immigrants and sympathizers gathered in San Jose, Calif., 200,000 in New York, 400,000 each in Chicago and Los Angeles.  In all, there were demonstrations in at least 50 cities – 2006
—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Union Communication Services

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