Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

January 30, 1919


The Paris Peace Conference establishes the Commission on International Labour Legislation to draft the constitution of a permanent international labor organization, founding the International Labour Organization (ILO).  Today, as part of the United Nations, the ILO is charged with drafting and overseeing international labor standards.

January 29, 1993


Workers at the Timex factory in Dundee, Scotland, go on strike against proposed layoffs, a wage-freeze, and reduction in benefits.  They were subsequently locked out and replaced with scabs.  Six months later, the factory closed.

January 28, 1932


Wisconsin Governor Philip LaFollette signs the nation’s first unemployment compensation law.  [Photo:  Also pictured in back, left to right – Henry Oltl, President, Wisconsin Federation of Labor; Elizabeth Brandeis; Paul Raushenbush; John R. Commons; Henry Huber; Lt. Governor Harold Groves; and Assemblyman Robert Nixon.]

January 27, 1992

ImageThe United States Supreme Court rules in Lechmere, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, forbidding non-employee union organizers from soliciting support on private property.  Organizers attempting to handbill in Lechmere’s privately owned parking lot had been denied access to the property; the NLRB ruled in favor of the union, but the Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

January 25, 1888


Delegates representing local unions of tin and sheet iron workers meet in Toledo, Ohio, and organize the Tin, Sheet Iron and Cornice Workers’ International Association.  Today, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) represents 150,000 workers in the construction, manufacturing, service, railroad, and shipyard industries in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

January 24, 2002

ImageThe Supreme Court of Canada rules in R.W.D.S.U., Local 558 v. Pepsi-Cola Canada Beverages (West) Ltd., that secondary picketing is legal.  Pepsi had gotten an injunction against its striking workers who were picketing at retail stores that sold Pepsi products, and the court overruled that decision, finding that picketing is a freedom of expression covered by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

January 23, 1978


A nationwide strike, involving both the public and private sectors, begins in Nicaragua, demanding the end to Anastasio Somoza’s dictatorship.  The general strike paralyzed both private industry and public services for ten dates.  The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew Somoza’s U.S.-backed dictatorship the following year.

January 22, 2004


Chea Vichea, leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC), is assassinated.  He had recently been fired by a garment factory in reprisal for helping to establish a union at the plant and had experienced numerous threats on his life for years because of his efforts to organize workers.  [Image: Buddhist monks lead Chea Vichea’s funeral procession, attended by thousands of workers.]

January 21, 2012


15,000 trade unionists and supporters rally in London, Ontario, in solidarity with the Canadian Auto Workers locked out by Electro-Motive Diesel, a subsidiary of Caterpillar.  The lockout began on New Year’s Day in an attempt to force workers at the company to accept a 50 percent pay cut.

January 20, 1934


The Nazis adopt the “Act on the Regulation of National Labor,” replacing independently negotiated collective agreements.  The act read, in part, “The leader of the plant makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise….  He is responsible for the well-being of the employees and laborers.  [They] owe him faithfulness.”

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