Today in Labor History

August 3, 1913

Durst_Ranch_Hop_Pickers__ThreeStriking hop pickers near the Northern California town of Wheatland gather to hear Industrial Workers of the World organizers, among them Richard “Blackie” Ford. Fighting broke out when sheriff’s deputies attempted to arrest Ford while he was speaking. Four people died, including the local district attorney, a deputy, and two workers. Despite a lack of evidence, Ford and another strike leader, Herman Suhr, were found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury that included 8 farmers.

August 2, 1917

BBtoywuCQAEBW7PRailway and tramway employees in Sydney, Australia, go on strike to protest the introduction of a card system to record what each employee was doing and how fast the job was completed. Workers were not allowed to view or modify the cards. The strike spread from the railways to other industries until about 100,000 workers were on strike.

August 1, 1944

Motormen.Trolley.gsAfter the Philadelphia Transit Company promotes eight black transit workers to the position of trolley car driver, a sickout begins by white transit workers in defiance of their newly elected bargaining agent, the Transport Workers Union, which urged the company to integrate its workforce. Federal troops intervened, taking control of the transit system and providing protection for black motormen. In the end, it was a milestone in the battle against race discrimination in the workplace and a victory not just for black workers, but for the white workers who stood with them.

July 30, 2001

Crisis_20_diciembre_2001Facing demands by foreign investors in the middle of a recession, the government of Argentina’s proposed austerity bill is passed, which includes slashing state salaries and some pension by up to 13%. The economic crisis continued to deteriorate for months and by December major unions called for a general strike.

July 24, 1941

wpid-0321ov_WWII_Work_Production_PosterWhen their pay was shorted, 700 workers at Canada’s largest aluminum plant in Arvida, Quebec, walk off the job in an illegal (because the industry had been classified as essential to the war effort) strike. The next day, the strike spread to 4,500 workers, who occupied the plant. Work resumed several days later and negotiations began, with the union as intermediary, assisted by federal conciliators.

July 23, 1877

351sfoAnti-Chinese nativist agitators at a huge outdoor rally in San Francisco about the economic depression and unemployment organized by the Workingmen’s Party of the United States incite a two-day riot of ethnic violence against Chinese workers, resulting in four deaths and the destruction of property. Five years later, President Chester Arthur signed the federal Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting immigration of Chinese laborers.

July 21, 1978

POWMay78A wildcat strike begins by postal workers at the New Jersey Bulk and Foreign Mail Center in an attempt to nullify the tentative national contract agreement between the postal unions and the United States Postal Service. The conflict spread until eventually 4,750 postal workers were on strike nationwide. After the strike was broken, 125 workers were fired, 130 were temporarily suspended, 2,500 received letters of warning, the union memberships did not ratify the proposed settlement, and an arbitrated contract settlement was imposed.

July 11, 1936

AFD 186624After seven years of construction, the Triborough Bridge opens in New York City, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. 2,700 construction workers worked on the $60 million project, financed in part through the Public Works Administration through much of the Great Depression.

July 8, 1905

abolishcapitalismThe founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World concludes in Chicago. Founding member William “Big Bill” Haywood addressed the convention: “This is the Continental Congress of the working-class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working-class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working-class from the slave bondage of capitalism.”

July 7, 1998

44034A two-day general strike called by a coalition of 60 unions shuts down most of Puerto Rico. More than half a million people participated in the walkout, supporting striking telephone workers and protesting plans to privatize the telephone company. It was the largest work stoppage in the island’s history.

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