Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

April 30, 1963


Inspired by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a group of West Indians in Bristol, England, organize a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company for its refusal to employ non-white workers on its buses.  The boycott lasted for four months until the company reversed its discriminatory hiring practice.

April 29, 1943


The special representative to the National War Labor Board issues a report, “Retroactive Date for Women’s Pay Adjustments,” setting forth provisions respecting wage rates for women working in war industries who were asking for equal pay.  A directive issued by the board in September 1942 stated that “rates for women shall be set in accordance with the principle of equal pay for comparable quantity and quality of work on comparable operations.”

April 28, 1971


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration — the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of workplace safety and health legislation — is formed.  April 28 is designated as Workers’ Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance for those workers killed, injured, or made sick on the job.

April 27, 1946


James Oppenheim’s “Bread and Roses” is published in the IWW newspaper, “Industrial Solidarity.”  (Photo:  Artist Ralph Fasanella’s “The Great Strike – Lawrence, 1912.”)

April 26, 1944


After management at Montgomery Ward repeatedly refuses to comply with an order by the National War Labor Board (created to avert strikes in critical war-support industries) to recognize the workers’ union and abide by the collective bargaining agreement that the board worked out, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the Army National Guard to seize the company’s property in Chicago and remove its chairman, Sewell Avery.

April 25, 1886


The New York Times declares the struggle for an eight-hour workday to be “un-American” and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours “labor disturbances brought about by foreigners.”  (Photo:  Inaccurate drawing by Thure de Thulstrup, May 15, 1886, Harper’s Weekly, depicting what happened in Chicago’s Haymarket Square earlier that month).

April 24, 1999


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union close all ports on the West Coast in solidarity with a national day of protest to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, an activist and journalist who was on death row in Pennsylvania at the time.

April 23, 1956


The Canadian Labour Congress is founded.  The CLC is an umbrella organization for affiliated Canadian and international unions, representing three million workers.  “What we wish for ourselves we desire for all.  That includes decent wages, healthy and safe workplaces, fair labour laws, equality rights, dignity in retirement, a sustainable environment and respect for basic human rights.”

April 22, 2011


Bluegrass singer, songwriter, and musician Hazel Dickens (b. 1935) dies at the age of 75.  Musician, writer, and labor activist John Pietaro noted that “Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them and her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause.”

April 21, 1967


New York governor Nelson Rockefeller signs the Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act (“Taylor Law”), giving public employees the right to organize and bargain collectively. However, the law prohibited strikes and established a board to settle disputes and impose sanctions on striking public employees. (Photo: AFSCME members in New York City protest the jailing of hospital workers’ organizer and strike leader Lillian Roberts for breaking the Taylor Law).

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