Today in Labor History

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Archive for the month “December, 2012”

December 21, 1919


Following a year of massive strikes and political unrest at the end of World War I, the U.S. government deports 249 anarchists (including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman), communists, anti-war activists, and “labor agitators.”

December 20, 2001


The Supreme Court of Canada rules on Dunmore v. Ontario (Attorney General), upholding the collective bargaining rights of agricultural workers under Ontario’s 1994 Agricultural Labour Relations Act.  The Act had been repealed in 1995 when the Progressive Conservatives came to power in the province and all agreements made under that Act were terminated.

December 19, 1907


An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, kills 239 coal miners, most of whom are Hungarian immigrant laborers.  Some had come from the nearby Naomi Mine, which had closed after at deadly explosion several weeks earlier.  Only one person is thought to have survived the Darr Mine explosion.  December 1907 was the deadliest month in U.S. coal mining history.

December 18, 1830


The trial of nearly 350 agricultural laborers gets underway in England.  Facing land enclosures and mechanization, farm workers riot in the autumn of 1830, demanding higher wages, destroying machinery, and threatening landowners.  Of the nearly 2,000 people tried and convicted, 19 were executed and over 500 deported to New South Wales and Tasmania.

December 17, 1918


Protesting unemployment, lack of political representation, and taxation without representation, 1,000 members of the Australian Workers’ Union, led by Harold Nelson, march on the Government House in Darwin, Australia, demanding the resignation of John Gilruth, Administrator of the Northern Territory.  Gilruth left under military protection, never to return, and Nelson went on to win the first Territory seat in Australia’s House of Representatives.

December 16, 1951


The New York Times reports on December 17 that the “metropolitan area was threatened with a bagel famine yesterday as thirty-two of the city’s thirty-four bagel bakeries remained closed in a dispute between 300 members of Local 338 of the Bagel Bakers of America, A.F.L., and the Bagel Bakers Association.”  The union settled its dispute over health and welfare payments and workplace sanitation in late January.

December 15, 1921


A protest by 500 women in Kansas that began earlier in the week – organized in support of striking mine workers and against new anti-labor legislation that forced unions into arbitration and outlawed strikes in the state – swells to 4,000, stretching a mile long.  The women, dubbed the “Amazon Army” by the New York Times, disbanded upon hearing that the militia was on its way.   Victory came a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Kansas anti-labor laws unconstitutional.

December 14, 1995


Assembly workers represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers at Boeing go back to work after a 69-day long strike, having approved a contract that gave them most of what they sought.   [Photo: statues outside IAM District Lodge 751 in Everett, Washington, are outfitted with shirts for a subsequent strike in 2008.]

December 13, 1924


Samuel Gompers dies at the age of 74. Gompers served as president of the American Federation of Labor from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 to his death.  What does labor want?   Gompers said, “We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful and childhood more happy and bright.”

December 12, 2012


Today is a global day of action for ratification of International Labour Organization Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which establishes the first global standards for the estimated 50-100 million domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women and girls.  Six countries have signed on to date.

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