Today in Labor History

October 31, 1891

10389089_10152453416819677_4030503587617932939_nIn response to an ongoing attempt by coal mine owners to replace miners with convicts leased by the state, a group of miners burn the Tennessee Coal Mining Company stockade in Briceville and seize the Knoxville Iron Company stockade at Coal Creek, freeing over 300 convicts and supplying them with food and civilian clothes.

October 30, 1912

helen_schloss_irs_jan_1913_(2)Little Falls, New York, mounted police attack striking textile workers – mostly immigrant women and girls – beating some of them unconscious. The police chased the fleeing workers to their strike headquarters, continuing their assault, ransacking the building, destroying their union charter, and arresting the entire strike committee. Despite this, the workers saw the strike through until January 1913, when they won an agreement that included reinstatements, wage increases, and other demands.

October 29, 1919

October 29The International Labour Organization holds its first conference in Washington, D.C., adopting six international Labor Conventions. Created as part of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, the ILO today is made up 185 of the United Nations member states. The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international labor standards and policies; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments.

October 27, 1951

searsMarch53The National Negro Labor Council is formed in Cincinnati, Ohio. Delegates from around the country gathered to denounce racial discrimination in the workplace, segregation, and the slow pace at which the labor movement as a whole addressed these problems. The NNLC was branded a communist front by the U.S. Attorney General, investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and dissolved in 1956 under mounting legal defense costs.

October 26, 1905

ru-1734_popup_18Over 2 million workers are on strike throughout the Russian Empire. Following the government’s massacre of more than 1,000 workers gathered at the Tsar’s palace in January, a huge wave of strikes erupted, coordinated by workers’ councils. By late December, the military put down what became known as the Russian Revolution of 1905, crushing the strikes and imprisoning the leaders of the workers’ councils.

October 25, 2011

102611_BonusCarwasherosWinUnionCar wash workers at Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica, California, become the first to unionize in an industry where workers are often exposed to a variety of toxic chemicals without adequate protections, work for extended periods in the sun without rest or shade, and are paid a daily rate that is far less than the minimum wage. The contract provided a wage increase, health and safety protections, grievance and arbitration procedures, and prohibited the employer from firing workers without just cause.

October 24, 1892

bigstrikeMembers of three unions – the Teamsters, the Scalesmen, and the Packers – go on strike in New Orleans for a 10-hour work day, overtime pay, and a union shop. A general strike involving 46 other unions and 25,000 workers quickly followed and the city came to a halt. After a number of failed attempts to divide and crush the strike, employers agreed to binding arbitration, and the workers won the 10-hour day and overtime pay, but not the union shop.

October 23, 1989

pasadena85,000 pounds of highly flammable gas released through an open valve ignites, resulting in a series of explosions and fire at the Phillips 66 plastics plant in Pasadena, Texas. Twenty-three workers were killed and 314 injured. OSHA’s investigation faulted the company for a host of health and safety violations and issued 566 willful and 9 serious violations with a combined total proposed penalty of over $5.5 million dollars.

October 22, 1941

Jean-Pierre_TimbaudFrench trade union leader Jean-Pierre Timbaud and 26 others are executed by the Nazis. Timbaud was secretary of the steelworkers’ trade union section of the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT). During World War II, he joined the French Resistance and organized clandestine trade union committees.

October 21, 1933

24Th Of May 1933.Wisconsin. American Farmers StrikeIn an attempt to raise the price of milk, Wisconsin dairy farmers begin the third major milk strike of the year in the state. During the Great Depression, farmers who produced milk for bottling were able to remain solvent, but those who produced milk for cheese, butter, and other uses were driven into poverty.

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