The weekend in Labor History

August 29
Seventy-five workers die when the lower St. Lawrence River’s Quebec Bridge collapses while under construction.  A flawed design was found to be the cause.  Thirteen more workers were killed nine years later when the reconstructed bridge’s central span was being raised and fell into the river because of a problem with hoisting devices – 1907

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 2-week strike for higher pay – 1998

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

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 2013.08.26history-power-in-coalitionafter 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
(Power in Coalition: Strategies for Strong Unions and Social Change:The labor movement sees coalitions as a key tool for union revitalization and social change, but there is little analysis of what makes them successful or the factors that make them fail. Amanda Tattersall—an organizer and labor scholar—addresses this gap in the first internationally comparative study of coalitions between unions and community organizations.)

August 31
John Reed forms the Communist Labor Party in Chicago.  The Party’s motto: “Workers of the world, unite!” – 1919

Some 10,000 striking miners began a fight at Blair Mountain, W.Va., for recognition of their union, the United Mine Workers of 2013.08.26history-blair-mountainAmerica. Federal troops were sent in, and miners were forced to withdraw five 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

An estimated 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 9-day strike, winning smaller class sizes and raises of up to 4 percent – 1999

September 01
The Int’l 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

Some 30,000 women from 26 trades marched in Chicago’s Labor Day parade – 1903

Walter Reuther is born. He went on to become a founder of the United Auto Workers and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations when it merged with the AFL in 1955 – 1907

A 3-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
2013.08.26history-strikes(Strikes, Picketing and Inside Campaigns: A Legal Guide is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. With a deep understanding of the complex web of rules regulating forceful work-related activities, noted labor attorney and author Robert Schwartz offers examples of what unions can do, pointers on how to do it legally, picketing instructions, sample letters, and answers to scores of common questions.)

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 Int’l 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 Int’l 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 2013.08.26history-mergersbecome 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 Int’l Union of North America 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

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