Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

January 29, 1936

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After Firestone Tire & Rubber in Akron, Ohio, arbitrarily fires a worker, workers stage a fifty-five-hour sit-down occupation of the plant. It was one of three occupations that happened in January of the largest tire companies that refused to recognize the United Rubber Workers of America union and ignored demands for fair work rules.

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January 28, 1914

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The Edmonton, Canada, city council agree to the Industrial Workers of the World’s Unemployed League demand that the city assist the unemployed. The city council provided a large hall for the homeless, passed out three 25-cent meal tickets to each unemployed man daily, and employed 400 people on a public project.

January 27, 1908

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In Adair v. United States, the United States Supreme Court upholds employers’ “yellow-dog” contracts, which forbade workers from joining a union as a condition of their employment. They were finally outlawed in 1932 in the U.S. under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

January 26, 1850

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Labor leader Samuel Gompers is born in London, England. A cigar-maker by trade, Gompers served as president of the American Federation of Labor for almost forty years. He believed that strong trade unions would humanize industry, protect workers’ interests, and create opportunities for workers to educate themselves and claim a larger role in industrial society.

January 25, 1926

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Textile workers in mills in and around Passaic, New Jersey, go on strike over wages, hours, and working conditions. The strike ended on March 1 of the following year after the final mill being picketed signed a contract with the striking workers.

January 24, 1975

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Polish-American labor leader Emile Rieve dies. In the early 1930s, Rieve organized textile workers in Pennsylvania and in 1937 led a successful sit-down strike of 50,000 textile workers. He served as president of the Textile Workers Union of America from 1939 to 1956, which was formed from a merger of the Textile Workers Organizing Committee and the United Textile Workers of America.

January 23, 1945

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Nazi resistance fighter and Catholic trade union activist Nikolaus Gross is hanged at Plotzensee Prison in Berlin, Germany, after having been arrested in connection with the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. “If we do not risk our life today, how do we then want one day to justify ourselves before God and our people?” Gross was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

January 22, 1849

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Terence V. Powderly is born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. Powderly would become the Grand Master Workman of the Knights of Labor – a labor organization that promoted an eight-hour workday, the end of child and convict labor, a graduated income tax, equal pay for equal work, and worker cooperatives. At its height in 1886, the Knights had over 700,000 members.

January 21, 1974

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A four-day strike by 2,000 postal workers at the New Jersey Bulk and Foreign Mail Center in Jersey City begins. The “Battle of the Bulk” was caused by postal management’s unilateral changes in workers’ hours and working conditions. A federal judge ruled in the union’s favor, directing management to settle the issue through binding arbitration.

January 20, 1909

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A mile and a half offshore on Lake Michigan, fire breaks out in a temporary water crib used to access an intermediate point along a water intake tunnel under construction for the city of Chicago. The fire spread to the wooden dormitory that housed the tunnel workers. 46 workers survived the fire by jumping into the lake and climbing onto ice floes and 60 men died in the fire or were drowned trying to escape.

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