Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

August 31, 1921

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The Battle of Blair Mountain in southern West Virginia is underway between upwards of 7,000 coal miners and the private militias employed by the coal companies to crush organizing by the United Mine Workers of America.  The battle lasted for five days until President Warren G. Harding sent in federal forces, at which point most of the miners surrendered.  The miners’ leaders were tried for insurrection and treason, legal fees all but bankrupted the union, and organizing in the coalfields halted until 1933.

August 30, 1996

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues revised scaffold standards, “Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry.”  The new standards set performance-based criteria to protect workers from scaffold-related hazards, such as falls, falling objects, structural instability, electrocution, and overloading.

August 29, 1889

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The Milwaukee Letter Carriers Association organizes the founding meeting of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).  With approximately sixty carriers attending from eighteen states, NALC was founded in a meeting hall above Schaefer’s saloon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  [Photo:  After parcel post service was introduced in 1913, at least two children were sent – with stamps attached to their clothing – and delivered to their destinations.  The Postmaster General quickly issued a regulation forbidding the sending of children in the mail.]

August 28, 1963

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250,000 people participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C.  The march—initiated by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters—was organized by a coalition of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations.  It was here that Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

August 26, 1913

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Members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in Dublin, Ireland, go on strike for union recognition.  A concerted effort by hundreds of the city’s employers resulted in a lockout of over 20,000 workers.  For months, picketing workers and their Irish Citizen Army battled scabs and the police in what would become known as the Dublin Lockout.  [Photo:  ITGWU leader James Larkin.]

August 25, 1925

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Pullman porters – fed up with working long hours for little pay and no job security – form the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in New York City.  It would be another twelve years before the union signed its first collective bargaining agreement with the Pullman Company.

August 23, 1966

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Gurindji tribal leader Vincent Lingiari leads 200 Aboriginal workers off their jobs at the Wave Hill cattle station, south of Darwin, Australia, where they worked for the British pastoral company Vestey.  It was a strike over workers’ rights and land rights that would last seven years and was instrumental in the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act of 1976.

August 22, 1945

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Flight attendants working for United Airlines form the Air Line Stewardesses Association, the first labor union representing flight attendants.  They were reacting to an industry in which women were forced to retire at the age of 32, remain single, and adhere to strict weight, height, and appearance requirements.  The union later became the Association of Flight Attendants, and since 2004 has been part of the Communications Workers of America.

August 21, 1831

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Nat Turner begins a slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia.  The two-day insurrection left at least 55 white people dead.  Turner hid for several months, but was eventually captured and executed, along with over 50 of his followers; another 200 black people were subsequently murdered by white mobs in the state.

August 19, 1916

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Strikebreakers, hired by mill owner Neil Jamison, attack and beat picketing shingle mill workers in Everett, Washington.  Local police did nothing, on the grounds that the location of the mill was outside their jurisdiction; they did, however, intervene when the striking workers retaliated later that evening.

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