Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

April 30, 1963

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Inspired by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a group of West Indians in Bristol, England, organize a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company for its refusal to employ non-white workers on its buses. The boycott lasted for four months until the company reversed its discriminatory hiring practice.

April 29, 1943

ImageThe special representative to the National War Labor Board issues a report, “Retroactive Date for Women’s Pay Adjustments,” setting forth provisions respecting wage rates for women working in war industries who were asking for equal pay. A directive issued by the board in September 1942 stated that “rates for women shall be set in accordance with the principle of equal pay for comparable quantity and quality of work on comparable operations.”

April 28, 1971

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration–the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of workplace safety and health legislation–is formed. April 28 is designated as Workers Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance for those workers killed, injured, or made sick on the job.

April 27, 1946

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James Oppenheim’s “Bread and Roses” is published in the IWW newspaper, “Industrial Solidarity.” (Photo: Artist Ralph Fasanella’s “The Great Strike – Lawrence, 1912.”)

April 26, 1944

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After management at Montgomery Ward repeatedly refuses to comply with an order by the National War Labor Board (created to avert strikes in critical war-support industries) to recognize the workers’ union and abide by the collective bargaining agreement that the board worked out, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the Army National Guard to seize the company’s property in Chicago and remove its chairman, Sewell Avery.

April 25, 1886

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The New York Times declares the struggle for an eight-hour workday to be “un-American” and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours “labor disturbances brought about by foreigners.” (Photo: Inaccurate drawing by Thure de Thulstrup, May 15, 1886, Harper’s Weekly, depicting what happened in Chicago’s Haymarket Square earlier that month).

April 24, 1999

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The International Longshore and Warehouse Union close all ports on the West Coast in solidarity with a national day of protest to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, an activist and journalist who was on death row in Pennsylvania at the time.

April 20, 1914

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State militia and company guards attack the tent city that striking coal miners set up in Ludlow, Colorado. Following a machine gun assault, they set fire to the camp. The exact number of men, women, and children who were killed that day remains unknown. In 2009, the site of the Ludlow Massacre was designated a National Historic Landmark.

April 18, 1912

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What would become known as the West Virginia Mine War of 1912-1913 begins when coal operators refuse to agree to the union’s demand of wages on par with other union mines in the area. The strike quickly spread as it became clear that the goal of the coal operators was to bust the union and drive the United Mine Workers of America out.

April 15, 1889

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Labor leader and civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph is born. In 1925, Randolph helped to found the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and led the union’s twelve-year fight for recognition as the bargaining agent for porters working at the Pullman Company. “Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within. Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted.”

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