Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

December 31, 1987

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration adopts a grain handling facilities standard to protect 155,000 workers at nearly 24,000 grain elevators from the risk of fire and explosion from highly combustible grain dust.  [Photo:  A spark ignited the dust inside a 1.8 million pound capacity grain silo at the Robin Hood Flour Mill in Davenport, Iowa, causing a massive explosion in May 1975.]

December 30, 1936

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Autoworkers at the General Motors Fisher Body No. 1 plant in Flint, Michigan, occupy the factory and begin a sit-down strike that lasts 44 days.  The strike ended in a victory for the workers on February 11, 1937, when GM signed a contract with the United Auto Workers, recognizing the union as the sole bargaining agent for the workers in all of its plants.

December 29, 2006

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14,000 striking United Steelworkers from twelve Goodyear plants in ten states end a twelve-week strike.  The agreement included the closure of a Texas tire factory that employed 1,100 people, but also created a $1 billion health care fund for retirees – a key issue during the strike.

December 28, 1936

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Autoworkers begin a sit-down strike at the General Motors Fisher Body plant in Cleveland.  Two days later, the strike spread to the plant in Flint, Michigan, and continued until GM recognized the United Auto Workers as the bargaining agent for its employees in February 1937.  [Image:  Homer Martin, president of the United Auto Workers, speaks to autoworkers during the Fisher Body strike in Cleveland.]

December 27, 1943

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President Franklin Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9412.  “Railroad strikes by three Brotherhoods have been ordered for next Thursday,” Roosevelt said in a statement.  “The Government will expect every railroad man to continue at his post of duty.  The major military offensives now planned must not be delayed by the interruption of vital transportation facilities.  If any employees of the railroads now strike, they will be striking against the Government of the United States.”

December 26, 1996

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In response to the government’s new anti-labor legislation that included retrenchment of workers’ job security, working conditions, and freedom of association, South Korea’s labor federations call for a general strike.  Hundreds of thousands of workers and supporters participated in the strike over the following months, with Hyundai workers among the first to walk off the job.  [Photo:  Striking Hyundai workers, 2012.]

December 25, 1904

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Farmworker, labor leader, and Asian American civil rights activist Philip Vera Cruz is born in Ilocos Sur, the Philippines.  Vera Cruz was one of the founders of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, composed mainly of Filipino workers.  Their strike in 1965 against Delano, California, grape growers was joined by the mostly Latino union, the National Farm Workers Association.  The two groups went on to merge to become the United Farm Workers.  Vera Cruz remained an activist for social justice throughout his life.

December 24, 1913

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At least 73 people – mostly children – die in a stampede following a false cry of “Fire!” at a Christmas Eve party held by striking mine workers for their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan.  Witnesses identified the man who stepped into the hall and shouted the alarm as a strikebreaker, but no one was held accountable for the tragedy.

December 23, 1928

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Citing economic depression in the industry, Judge Lionel Oscar Lukin rules that timber mill workers in Australia must accept increased hours of work and decreased wages.  The resulting strike in February 1929 – supported by workers across a number of industries and community organizations – lasted nearly nine months.

December 22, 1998

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Chico Mendes – rubber tapper, trade union leader, and environmental activist – is assassinated by a rancher.  Mendes fought to preserve the Amazon rainforest and advocated for the rights of Brazilian peasants and indigenous peoples.  Mendes was the nineteenth rural activist murdered that year in Brazil.

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