Today in Labor History

March 3, 1985

article-0-03C2B2E7000005DC-205_468x325[1]A Special Delegate Conference of the National Union of Mineworkers in Great Britain votes 98-91 to return to work after the nearly year-long miners’ strike over the announced closure of twenty mines and the loss of 20,000 jobs. Soon after the strike ended, the Thatcher government’s program of “accelerated closure” was put into practice.

March 2, 1807

3.2.13President Thomas Jefferson signs into law the Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves. It provided heavy penalties for slave traders and ended large-scale importations of slaves into the United States. But it did nothing to undermine the legitimacy of holding men and women in bondage, and the importation of slaves continued, albeit illegally.

March 1, 1900

20111221_barreGraniteWorkersThe Granite Cutters National Union begins a successful nationwide strike for the eight-hour day. The union also won recognition, wage increases, a grievance procedure, and a minimum wage scale.

February 28, 1942

9e4698e5bb1bdd1aadb215cccbe7ddb4Sue Cowan Williams represents African-American teachers in the Little Rock School District as the plaintiff in a class action lawsuit challenging the disparity between black and white teachers’ salaries in the segregated South. The case was lost, but won in a 1943 appeal.

February 23, 1875

Riverboats_at_MemphisThe country’s oldest maritime union – the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association – is founded when five steamship unions out of Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore convene in to join together. Poor steamship design and construction, inadequate training, and the drive for profits and markets led to dangerous working conditions in the late nineteenth century.

February 22, 1918

Gandhiji-Champaran-AhmedabadTextile mill owners in Ahmedabad, India, lock out their workers over a cost-of-living wage dispute. Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi proposed a compromise between what the workers and employers were demanding and began his first “fast unto death,” which lasted for four days until the mill owners agreed to arbitration.

February 21, 1919

Bandera_CNTSeveral weeks after eight workers at a hydroelectric plant in Barcelona, Spain, are fired for political reasons, 100,000 workers are involved in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT)-led general strike that follows. Efforts to break the strike were unsuccessful and the CNT’s demands were met, including the eight-hour day, union recognition, the reinstatement of all fired workers, and wage increases in some industries.

February 20, 1908

voltairine-de-cleyres-quotes-5On their way to City Hall to demand jobs and relief, more than 1,000 unemployed workers battle with police in Philadelphia. Police arrest fourteen people and Voltairine de Cleyre – an anarchist who spoke at a rally earlier in the day – is charged with inciting to riot.

February 18, 1953

parents-with-three-children-watching-televisionThe Screen Actors Guild’s first-ever strike – which began on December 1, 1952, over filmed television commercials – ends when a contract is reached that covers all work in commercials.

February 17, 2006

belfast-post-strike-2006-2800 postal workers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, end an eighteen day wildcat strike over bullying, harassment, and intimidation by managers at Royal Mail when management agrees to an independent review of industrial relations.

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