Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

July 31, 1999

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The Great Shipyard Strike of 1999 ends after steelworkers at Newport News Shipbuilding Inc. ratify a breakthrough agreement which nearly doubles pensions, increases security, ends inequality, and provides the highest wage increases in company and industry history to nearly 10,000 workers. The strike lasted over 16 weeks.

July 29, 1970

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After five years of strikes and boycotts, table grape growers in California sign their first collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers. The contract—which covered over 10,000 workers—ended labor contracting and established seniority and hiring rights; included an immediate wage increase; and provided for fresh water and toilets in the fields, and a medical plan.

July 28, 1869

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Women shoemakers in Lynn, Massachusetts, form the Daughters of St. Crispin, demanding pay equal to that of men. It was modeled on and supported by the Knights of St. Crispin, the national shoe workers union, which went on record supporting equal pay for equal work. The Daughters of St. Crispin is recognized as the first national union of women.

July 27, 1918

July 27

Coal miner and labor leader Albert “Ginger” Goodwin is shot and killed by Canadian police. Although he had been ruled unfit for military service during World War I because he had lung disease, the conscription board reversed its decision just days after Goodwin led a smelter workers’ strike for the eight-hour day. Opposed to the war, Goodwin fled and for months avoided capture by the authorities. His death inspired Canada’s first general strike on August 2 in Vancouver.

July 24, 1877

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The first general strike in U.S. history is underway in St. Louis. Led by members of the Workingmen’s Party, it began as an outgrowth of the railroad strike sweeping the country. Workers – skilled and unskilled, black and white – shut down the city for a week until thousands of federal troops and special deputized police arrived, killing at least eighteen people and arresting the strike leaders.

July 22, 1887

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Brewers and brewery workers in San Francisco sign their first collective bargaining agreement, bringing to a close a strike and successful boycott which had lasted several months. The agreement included a closed shop, sick leave, a 10-hour day, minimum wages, overtime pay, and “free beer in moderation while at work.”

July 21,1877

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The Great Railway Strike of 1877 is underway across several states. In Pittsburgh, militia bayoneted and fired on rock-throwing strikers, killing 20 people and wounding 29 others. The workers responded by forcing the militia to take refuge in a railroad roundhouse, and then set fires that razed 39 buildings and destroyed 104 locomotives and 1,245 freight and passenger cars

July 20, 1899

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New York City newsboys go on strike, refusing to sell the New York Journal and the New York World. Not allowed to return unsold papers (which they had to buy up front), newsboys—who were desperately poor and often homeless—typically earned around 30 cents a day and worked late into the night. The strike ended after two weeks when the companies agreed to start buying back unsold papers.

July 17, 1944

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An explosion while loading munitions onto a cargo vessel at the military depot at Port Chicago, California, kills 320 and injures nearly 400 sailors (mostly African-American enlisted men who were part of a segregated unit) and civilians. Following the disaster, many of the surviving sailors refused to resume loading munitions, citing unsafe working conditions. Fifty men were convicted of mutiny and received 15-year sentences. It was the largest mass mutiny trial in U.S. history. (Photo: Freddie Meeks, one of the “Port Chicago 50.”)

July 16, 1892

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Labor leader, socialist, and editor Frank Crosswaith is born.  Crosswaith worked to organize black workers, serving as chair of the Harlem Labor Center and Negro Labor Committee for many years.  He also worked as an organizer for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union for over thirty years.  Crosswaith died in 1965.

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