Today in Labor History

June 27, 1884

Healthcare-WorkplViolence-Stats-graphicThe Bureau of Labor – which will become the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – is established. Today, the BLS is a governmental agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates statistical data on employment, labor, and economics.

June 26, 1959

June 26The St. Lawrence Seaway officially opens. The joint project between the U.S. and Canada employed 22,000 workers to build the 2,342-mile waterway system linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.

June 25, 1893

June 25The Haymarket Martyrs Monument is dedicated at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, to honor those framed and executed for the bombing at Chicago’s Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886. More than 8,000 people attended the dedication ceremony. At the base of the monument are the last words of Haymarket martyr August Spies: “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.”

June 24, 1924

June 24Union leader, lawyer, and politician Terence V. Powderly dies. Powderly was the Grand Master Workman of the Knights of Labor – a labor organization that promoted an eight-hour workday, the end of child and convict labor, a graduated income tax, equal pay for equal work, and worker cooperatives. At its height in 1886, the Knights had over 700,000 members.

June 23, 1978

June 23The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues a cotton dust standard to protect 600,000 workers from byssinosis, also known as “brown lung.”

June 22, 1918

lgr shot showmens moument and elephantA horrific train wreck in northwest Indiana, between Gary and Hammond, kills an estimated 86 people and injures 127 others. The train was carrying the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. The victims were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, in an area set aside as Showmen’s Rest, purchased by the Showmen’s League of America.

June 20, 1893

aruphotoThe American Railway Union (ARU) is founded in Chicago by locomotive fireman Eugene V. Debs and other railway workers. The ARU was an industrial union for railway workers, regardless of craft or service. Within a year, the ARU had 125 locals and very quickly grew to become the country’s largest union.

June 19, 1914

June 19An explosion in the Hillcrest mine in the Crowsnest Pass region of western Canada kills 189 miners. It devastated the town of Hillcrest, which had a total population of about 1,000, leaving 130 women widowed and about 400 children fatherless. Many of the miners were buried in a mass grave in the Hillcrest Cemetery. It was the worst coal mining disaster in Canadian history.

June 18, 1984

PKT5888 STRIKES MINERS

During picketing of the Orgreave Coking Plant in South Yorkshire, England, police attack striking miners, arresting nearly one hundred people and injuring dozens. Ninety-five miners were arrested and charged with riot, an offense that carried a potential life sentence. The subsequent trials collapsed due to lack of evidence.

June 17, 1936

tumblr_lkxw8aPDpK1qz8xtho1_500The Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) sets up its headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh with the goal to organize steelworkers. “Our first problem was to banish fear from the steelworkers’ minds,” recalled Philip Murray, SWOC chair. On March 2, 1937, U.S. Steel signs its first collective bargaining agreement with SWOC.

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