Labor History

Today’s Labor Quote: Jerry Wurf
“Government workers have proved that when they are not dealt with justly, they will defy the law. And they have proved that, in such situations, government is powerless.”

May 08
The constitution of the Brotherhood of the Footboard was ratified by engineers in Detroit, Mich. Later became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers – 1863

About 200 construction workers in New York City attack a crowd of Vietnam war protesters four days after the Kent State killings. More than 70 people were injured, including four police officers. Peter Brennan, head of the New York building trades, was honored at the Nixon White House two weeks later, eventually named Secretary of Labor – 1970

Some 12,000 Steelworker-represented workers at Goodyear Tire & Rubber win an 18-day strike for improved wages and job security – 1997

May 09
The first Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was held on this date in New York City. Attendees included women of color, the wives and daughters of slaveholders, and women of low economic status – 1837

Japanese workers strike at Oahu, Hawaii’s Aiea Plantation, demanding the same pay as Portuguese and Puerto Rican workers. Ultimately 7,000 workers and their families remained out until August, when the strike was broken – 1909

Legendary Western Federation of Miners leader William “Big Bill” Haywood goes on trial for murder in the bombing death of former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg, who had brutally suppressed the state’s miners. Haywood ultimately was declared innocent – 1907

Longshoremen’s strike to gain control of hiring leads to general work stoppage, San Francisco Bay area – 1934

Hollywood studio mogul Louis B. Mayer recognizes the Screen Actors Guild. SAG leaders reportedly were bluffing when they told Mayer that 99 percent of all actors would walk out the next morning unless he dealt with the union. Some 5,000 actors attended a victory gathering the following day at Hollywood Legion Stadium; a day later, SAG membership increased 400 percent – 1937

United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther and his wife May die in a plane crash as they travel to oversee construction of the union’s education and training facility at Black Lake, Mich. – 1971

Four thousand garment workers, mostly Hispanic, strike for union recognition at the Farah Manufacturing Co. in El Paso, Texas – 1972
(The Union Steward’s Guide, Spanish 3rd edition: This bound, 169-page compilation contains more than 130 articles from the Spanish language edition of Steward Update newsletter, read today by more than 80,000 stewards across North America. Chapter headings include A Union Steward’s Rules & Tools, Grievance Handling, Health and Safety Issues, Building Unity and Strength, and more—every article will develop skills and build confidence!)

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