Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

October 19, 1980


After twenty years of virulent anti-unionism, the J.P. Stevens & Co. finally signs its first-ever contract with the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union.  The collective bargaining agreement covered more than 3,000 workers in ten plants in the Carolinas and Alabama.

October 18, 1927

8,400 coal miners across Colorado go on strike, shutting down the majority of mines in the state.  Five weeks into the strike, Columbine – one of the few towns with a mine still open using scab labor – became the scene of a massacre when police and militia opened fire on miners attempting to enter the town.  Six people were killed and over sixty injured, many severely.

October 17, 1814


The metal hoops snap on one of the huge porter fermenting vats at the Meux and Company Brewery in London, causing a chain reaction that results in 1,224,000 liters of beer under pressure to smash through the wall of the brewery and out on to the streets.  The brewery was located in a slum where many families were living in basements and eight people drowned in the flood or died from injuries.

October 16, 1859

ImageAbolitionist John Brown leads 18 men in an attack on the Harpers Ferry armory.  The raid to seize the weapons failed and Brown was captured, tried, and hung.  At his trial, Brown said:  “Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood…with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!”

October 11, 1874


Author, labor journalist, and social critic Mary Heaton Vorse is born in New York City.  For over 50 years, Vorse traveled the country and the world, reporting on labor issues, struggles, and strikes.  [Photo:  Vorse is presented with the UAW’s Social Justice Award by Walter Reuther at the union’s 1962 convention.]

October 10, 1933


20,000 cotton pickers in southern California’s San Joaquin Valley go on strike earlier in the month over wages, working conditions, and union recognition.  Striking workers who had assembled at their union’s office in Pixley to hear an organizer speak were shot at by growers who drove up in their pickup trucks.  Within minutes, two workers were dead and eight injured.  Eight growers were indicted, but all were acquitted of murder.

October 9, 2003


3,300 workers at seventeen private sanitation companies in Chicago end their nine-day strike after winning a 28% increase in wages and benefits over the next five years.

October 8, 1871


The Great Chicago Fire begins, a fire that would burn through the early morning hours of October 10.  The fire injured 30 of the city’s 185 firefighters, claimed the lives of hundreds of people, left nearly a third of the city homeless, and destroyed almost 20,000 buildings.

October 7, 1879


Joel Emmanuel Hägglund (aka “Joe Hill”) is born in Gävle, Sweden.  Joe Hill was a labor activist, member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and songwriter — the author of “There is Power in a Union,” “The Rebel Girl,” and “The Preacher and the Slave,” among others.

October 6, 1995


32,000 machinists represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers go on strike at Boeing over wages, benefits, and job security.  The successful 69-day strike ended in mid-December.

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