Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

April 14, 1939


John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is published: the story of a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers who migrate to California looking for relief from the economic devastation caused by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.


April 13, 1903


The International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers’ Union is founded in Washington, D.C., by delegates representing 8,000+ members. The union would later become the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).

April 12, 1934


The Toledo Electric Auto-Lite strike begins over union recognition and wages. The strike, which lasted nearly two months, involved a five-day battle (“The Battle of Toledo”) between 6,000+ strikers and the Ohio National Guard, leaving two striking workers dead and more than 200 injured.

April 11, 1986


Police fire tear gas into a group of 400 striking P-9 workers and supporters who are blockading the entrances to the Hormel plant; 17 people are arrested on felony riot charges. The following day, thousands rallied in Austin, Minnesota, in support of the strike.

April 10, 1930


Labor leader, community organizer, civil rights activist, and feminist Dolores Huerta is born. She co-founded, with Cesar Chavez, the National Farm Workers Association, which would later become the United Farm Workers. “Walk the street with us into history,” Huerta said. “Get off the sidewalk.”

April 9, 1970


Defying a law prohibiting them from striking, public school teachers in Minneapolis walk out over wages and the right to bargain collectively. A year after the strike was settled, the Minnesota legislature passed the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PERLA), strengthening collective bargaining rights for public employees.

April 8, 1952


The day before a nationwide steelworkers’ strike was set to begin, President Harry S. Truman orders his Secretary of Commerce to seize control of the nation’s steel mills to keep them in production for the Korean War effort. On June 2, the Supreme Court ruled against the president.

April 5, 1954


The longest strike in U.S. history begins as workers at the Kohler Company in Sheboygen, Wisconsin, go out on strike when the company fails to negotiate in good faith with their union, the United Auto Workers. More than six years later, the NLRB ruled in the workers’ favor; it wasn’t until 1964 that Kohler agreed to pay $4.5 million in back wages and pension contributions.

April 4, 1907


The Labor Review begins publication in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and continues – 106 years later – to chronicle the history of the labor movement in the Twin Cities.

April 3, 1968


Martin Luther King, Jr., returns to Memphis, Tennessee, to support striking sanitation workers and delivers his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at a church filled with union members and supporters. He was assassinated the next day.

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