Today in Labor History

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Archive for the month “January, 2015”

January 31, 1992

Photo of 1 year old's drive dug and dead deer in Monroe, GA.160 gravediggers represented by SEIU Local 106 – locked out after they went on strike against the Cemeteries Association of Greater Chicago over wages and benefits – reach a contract agreement after 43 days.

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January 29, 2009

1505400_10152530295502680_4927318677390502220_nThe Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama, restoring the protection against pay discrimination that was stripped away by the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Six years later, the wage gap continues.

January 28, 1917

bathriots_Jan28fumigation500-9112583fce71f27195e4b53403e6d2c1cbcec67a-400x31017-year old house cleaner Carmelita Torres leads what will become known as the “Bath Riots” at the Juarez/El Paso border, refusing the gasoline and chemical “bath” imposed on Mexican workers crossing the border into the U.S. Torres and 30 other women resisted and several hundred people quickly joined in the demonstration. Troops eventually quelled the riot and Torres was arrested. The practice continued for decades. [Photo: Mexican laborers being fumigated with the pesticide DDT in Hidalgo, Texas, in 1956.]

January 27, 2014

peteFolk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger dies at the age of 94. Seeger was active in progressive causes his entire life, using music to champion labor, civil rights, women’s rights, peace, and the environmental movements. “I call them all love songs,” he said of his music.

January 25, 1937

bmt_1933In response to management’s firing of two of boiler room engineers for union activity, Transport Workers Union members – supported by their non-union coworkers – at the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation’s Kent Avenue power plant in Brooklyn lock themselves inside and announce that if the men are not reinstated, they will shut down the city’s subway lines. The two men were quickly reinstated unconditionally.

January 23, 1933

sanding196,000 workers – led by metal finishers – walk off the job over wage cuts at Briggs Manufacturing Company, sparking a strike wave of 15,000 auto body workers that paralyzes Detroit’s auto industry. With scabs trucked in and finished products trucked out under police escort, the company quickly resumed production. When the strike was called off on May 1, strikers were not rehired, but their collective action forced wage increases in the industry.

January 22, 1959

oldknoxOne of the worst mining disasters in northeastern Pennsylvania history occurs when the Knox Mine Company digs illegally under the Susquehanna River without drilling boreholes to gauge the rock thickness overhead. The insufficient “roof” cover caused 10 billion gallons of water to pour into the mine. Ten people were indicted on a variety of charges, including violations of the Anthracite Mine Act, conspiracy, and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of twelve miners whose bodies were never been recovered.

January 21, 1946

cartoon750,000 steelworkers walk off the job, joining what would become known as the Great Strike Wave of 1946. The post-World War II strike wave was not limited to industrial workers; there were more strikes in transportation, communication, and public utilities than in any previous year. By the end of 1946, 4.6 million workers had been involved in strikes.

January 20, 2000

C-5600 heavily armed police are deployed to protect scabs unloading freight in Charleston, South Carolina, during an International Longshoremen’s Association strike. The striking longshoremen arrived at the docks to picket and a fight ensued; police drove into the crowd, fired smoke grenades, and attacked with wooden batons. Five longshoremen – who became known as the “Charleston Five” – were indicted for felony riot.

January 19, 2015

tumblr_mgfbcnPbGU1rl5nsqo1_500Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an American federal holiday celebrating the birthday of American civil rights activist and organizer Martin Luther King, Jr. The campaign for a federal holiday in his honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronal Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

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