Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

March 31, 2013

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Today Cesar Chavez Day is celebrated as an official state holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas and unofficially throughout the United States.  The day honors the life and work of farm workers’ advocate, union activist, and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

March 30, 1990

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Harry Bridges dies at the age of 88. Bridges helped form and led the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for forty years. “Labor cannot stand still. It must not retreat. It must go on, or go under,” Bridges said. “The most important word in the language of the working class is solidarity.”

March 25, 1911

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A fire breaks out on the top floors of the Triangle Waist Company’s Asch Building in New York City. Unable to escape because they had been locked in by their employer, 146 workers died, most of them young immigrant women. The tragedy inspired a movement for workplace safety and a crackdown on sweatshops.

March 22, 1886

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Mark Twain, a lifelong member of the International Typographical Union (now part of the Communications Workers of America), speaks in Hartford, Connecticut, extolling the Knights of Labor’s commitment to fair treatment of all workers, regardless of race or gender.

March 21, 1857

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Women’s rights advocate and labor activist Alice Henry is born in Melbourne, Australia.  Henry came to the U.S. in 1905 and worked for twenty years for the National Women’s Trade Union League of America in Chicago, lecturing, organizing, directing the education department, writing two books on women in the labor movement, and editing the League’s official journal.

March 20, 1956

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50,000+ electrical workers end their 156-day nationwide strike against Westinghouse with the right to renegotiate their contract, wage increases, and expanded pension benefits.

March 19, 1917

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The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Adamson Act, a federal law that established an 8-hour workday, with overtime pay, for interstate railway workers. Congress passed the law in 1916 to avert a nationwide rail strike.

March 18, 1834

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Six farm laborers in Tolpuddle, Dorset, England, are found guilty of taking an illegal oath and forming a union. The men were sentenced to seven years of prison labor in Australia. Support for the Tolpuddle Martyrs was enormous: a massive demonstration marched through London and 800,000 people signed a petition protesting their sentence.

March 17, 1966

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Nearly 100 striking Mexican and Filipino farm workers begin a march from Delano to Sacramento, California.  By April 11, when they reached the steps of the state capitol, 10,000 supporters had joined them.  A few months later, the two organizations representing the workers – the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the National Farm Workers Association – joined to form a single union, out of which the United Farm Workers was born.

March 16, 1960

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The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is formed to represent New York City public school teachers.

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