Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Woody Guthrie
“I ain’t a communist necessarily, but I been in the red all my life.”

December 25
A dynamite bomb destroys a portion of the Llewellyn Ironworks in Los Angeles, where a bitter strike was in progress – 1910

Fourteen servicemen from military bases across the U.S., led by Pvt. Andrew Stapp, form The American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). The union, which never came close to being recognized by the government, in its heyday during the Viet Nam war claimed tens of thousands of members and had chapters at bases, on ships and in Viet Nam. ASU demands included the right to elect officers – 1967

December 26 
Knights of Labor founded. Constitution bars from membership “parasites,” including stockbrokers and lawyers – 1869

Workingmen’s Party is reorganized as the Socialist Labor Party – 1877

December 27
President Roosevelt seizes the railroads to avert a nationwide strike. His decision to temporarily place the railroads under the “supervision” of the War Department prompts the five railroad brotherhoods to agree to his offer to arbitrate the wage dispute – 1943

December 28
The coffee percolator is patented by James H. Mason of Franklin, Mass., placing himself forever in the debt of millions of caffeine-dependent working people – 1865

Auto workers begin sit-down strike for union recognition at GM’s Fisher Body plant in Cleveland – 1936

Country music legend Hank Williams attends what is to be his last musicians’ union meeting, at the Elite (pronounced E-light) café in Montgomery, Ala.  He died of apparent heart failure three days later in the back seat of a car driving north.  He was 29 – 1952

December 29
After years of intensive lobbying by the labor movement, a comprehensive national safety law is enacted as President Nixon signs the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, creating the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – 1970

More than 15,000 United Steel Workers members at 16 Goodyear Tire & Rubber plants end an 86-day strike, ratify 3-year contract – 2006

December 30
Gathering in the back room of Behrens’ cigar shop in Sedalia, Mo., 33 railroad clerks form Local Lodge Number 1 of a union they named the Order of the Railroad Clerks of America – 1899

Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg, who had brutally suppressed the state’s miners, is killed by an assassin’s bomb. Legendary Western Federation of Miners and IWW leader William “Big Bill” Haywood and two other men were put on trial for the death but were ultimately declared innocent – 1905

GM sit-down strike spreads to Flint, Mich., will last 44 days before ending in union victory – 1936

December 31
Sixty thousand unemployed workers rally at a Pittsburgh stadium – 1931

United Mine Workers reformer Joseph “Jock” Yablonski, his wife and daughter are murdered by hit men hired by union president Tony Boyle, who was to be convicted of the crime and eventually die in prison – 1969

OSHA adopts a grain handling facilities standard to protect 155,000 workers at nearly 24,000 grain elevators from the risk of fire and explosion from highly combustible grain dust – 1987

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Union Communication Services

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