Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

February 28, 1986

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South African workers at the 3M plant in Elandsfontein near Johannesburg stage a half-day walkout in solidarity with 3M workers in Freehold, New Jersey. The company announced in November 1985 that it would close its plants in Freehold, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Van Nuys, California.

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February 26, 2004

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UFCW and employers reach an agreement to end the nearly five-month-long grocery strike and lockout of 59,000 workers in Southern California, fueled by management’s demand to strip workers of their healthcare benefits. The new two-tier contract required employees to pay for healthcare benefits for the first time, included no raises, and paid new hires less and put them in a different healthcare plan.

February 25, 1987

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Labor organizer and civil rights activist Edgar Daniel (“E.D.”) Nixon dies. While working as a Pullman porter, Nixon organized the Montgomery local of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and served as its president for many years. He was a key organizer of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and co-founder of the Montgomery Improvement Association. [Photo: Nixon’s arrest photo during the bus boycott.]

February 24, 1908

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The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Muller v. Oregon to uphold the state’s restrictions on the working hours of women, setting a precedent to use sex differences — and in particular women’s child-bearing capacity — as a basis for separate legislation. The ruling fueled the emergence of maternalist public policy.

February 23, 1864

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19-year-old Irish immigrant Kate Mullany leads members of the Collar Laundry Union – the first all-female union in the United States – in a successful strike in Troy, New York, for increased wages and improved working conditions. Women working in commercial laundries spent 12 to 14 hours a day ironing and washing detachable collars with harsh chemicals and boiling water and were paid about $3-$4/week.

February 22, 1968

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Responding to the mayor’s injunction against picketing, deploying the police, and hiring scabs, striking AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers hold a mass meeting and crash the Memphis City Council meeting to demand that a resolution on the strike be formulated. When the Council’s promise to do so proved empty, the workers took to the streets and were subsequently attacked by the police, galvanizing widespread support for the strike.

February 18, 1906

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Labor leader Peter J. McGuire dies. McGuire co-founded the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and was credited by AFL President Samuel Gompers as being the “Father of Labor Day.” At an 1882 meeting of the New York Central Labor Union, McGuire introduced a resolution calling for workers to lead a “festive parade through the city” on the first Monday in September. More than 30,000 people participated in the event.

February 17, 1986

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Labor leader Harry Van Arsdale, Jr., dies. Van Arsdale was the son of a union electrician and rose to the leadership of IBEW Local 3 at an early age. He was responsible for the first multi-employer pension plan in the construction industry, spearheaded the construction of affordable housing for union members, and served as president of the New York City Central Labor Council from its inception until his death.

February 16, 2011

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Public schools in Madison close after teachers call in sick to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s bill that would strip the state’s 175,000 public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

February 13, 2008

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Hollywood writers return to work after their 100-day strike that shut down more than 60 television shows ends. The new contract gave Writers Guild of America members residual payments for programs streamed online and formalized union jurisdiction over programming created for the Web.

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