Labor History

The legendary Mets pitcher, who said during the 1981 strike that “The owners are taking a very destructive position; it’s very disturbing. If they are trying to alienate the players, they are doing a good job.”
June 16
Eight local unions organize the Int’l Fur Workers Union of U.S. and Canada. The union later merged with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen – 1913

Railroad union leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs speaks in Canton, Ohio, on the relation between capitalism and war. Ten days later he is arrested under the Espionage Act, eventually sentenced to 10 years in jail – 1918

The National Industrial Recovery Act became law, but was later to be declared unconstitutional. It established the right to unionize, set maximum hours and minimum wages for every major industry, abolished sweatshops and child labor. The Wagner Act, in effect today, was approved two years later to legalize unionization – 1933

Inacom Corp., once the world’s largest computer dealer, sends most of its 5,100 employees an email instructing them to call a toll-free phone number; when they call, a recorded message announces they have been fired – 2000

June 17
Twenty-one young women and girls making cartridges for the Union Army at the Washington, D.C. arsenal during the Civil War are killed in an accidental explosion. Most of the victims were Irish immigrants. A monument was erected in the Congressional Cemetery, where 17 of the workers were buried – 1864

Susan B. Anthony goes on trial in Canandaigua, N.Y., for casting her ballot in a federal election the previous November, in violation of existing statutes barring women from the vote – 1873

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones leads a rally in Philadelphia to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state’s textile mills. Three weeks later the 73-year-old will lead a march to New York City to plead with President Theodore Roosevelt to help improve conditions for the children – 1903
(The Autobiography of Mother Jones: Mary Harris Jones—“Mother Jones”—was the most dynamic woman ever to grace the American labor movement.  Employers and politicians around the turn of the century called her “the most dangerous woman in America” and rebellious working men and women loved her as they never loved anyone else.)

Twelve trade unionists meet in Pittsburgh to launch a drive to organize all steelworkers. It was the birth of the United Steelworkers of America (then called the Steel Workers Organizing Committee). By the end of the year 125,000 workers joined the union in support of its $5-a-day wage demand – 1936

Nine firefighters are killed, eight more injured when a large section of Boston’s Hotel Vendom collapses on them.  The firefighters were performing cleanup when the collapse occurred, having successfully fought a fire at the luxury hotel earlier in the day – 1972

June 18
Union and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph and others meet with President Roosevelt about a proposed July 1 March on Washington to protest discrimination in war industries. A week later, Roosevelt orders that the industries desegregate – 1941

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Union Communication Sevices

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