Today in Labor History

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Archive for the month “February, 2015”

February 28, 1942

9e4698e5bb1bdd1aadb215cccbe7ddb4Sue Cowan Williams represents African-American teachers in the Little Rock School District as the plaintiff in a class action lawsuit challenging the disparity between black and white teachers’ salaries in the segregated South. The case was lost, but won in a 1943 appeal.

February 23, 1875

Riverboats_at_MemphisThe country’s oldest maritime union – the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association – is founded when five steamship unions out of Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore convene in to join together. Poor steamship design and construction, inadequate training, and the drive for profits and markets led to dangerous working conditions in the late nineteenth century.

February 22, 1918

Gandhiji-Champaran-AhmedabadTextile mill owners in Ahmedabad, India, lock out their workers over a cost-of-living wage dispute. Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi proposed a compromise between what the workers and employers were demanding and began his first “fast unto death,” which lasted for four days until the mill owners agreed to arbitration.

February 21, 1919

Bandera_CNTSeveral weeks after eight workers at a hydroelectric plant in Barcelona, Spain, are fired for political reasons, 100,000 workers are involved in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT)-led general strike that follows. Efforts to break the strike were unsuccessful and the CNT’s demands were met, including the eight-hour day, union recognition, the reinstatement of all fired workers, and wage increases in some industries.

February 20, 1908

voltairine-de-cleyres-quotes-5On their way to City Hall to demand jobs and relief, more than 1,000 unemployed workers battle with police in Philadelphia. Police arrest fourteen people and Voltairine de Cleyre – an anarchist who spoke at a rally earlier in the day – is charged with inciting to riot.

February 18, 1953

parents-with-three-children-watching-televisionThe Screen Actors Guild’s first-ever strike – which began on December 1, 1952, over filmed television commercials – ends when a contract is reached that covers all work in commercials.

February 17, 2006

belfast-post-strike-2006-2800 postal workers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, end an eighteen day wildcat strike over bullying, harassment, and intimidation by managers at Royal Mail when management agrees to an independent review of industrial relations.

February 16, 1883

8279370581_7e24f94b56_bMelting snow collapses the side of a coal mine on a marshy tract of land with no natural drainage near Braidwood, Illinois. Within minutes, the Diamond Mine flooded, killing 74 boys and men, 46 of whose bodies were never recovered. The disaster prompted state legislators to overhaul an 1871 law that allowed individual counties to appoint their own mine inspectors.

February 15, 1947

14174606262_c43f381eb6_bBaldemar Velasquez – union activist and co-founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) – is born. His experiences with miserable housing, bad working conditions, low wages, and wage theft as a child migrant farm worker propelled him to organize migrant farm workers in northwest Ohio in 1967. Velasquez continues as the president of FLOC and is active in the immigrant rights movement.

February 14, 1949

LaborUnionsCanadaStrike1949Asbestos miners in Asbestos, Quebec, go on strike for better wages and working conditions – in particular, health and safety measures to stop the lung-choking silicosis caused by exposure to asbestos in the mines, which were owned primarily by American companies. The four month-long strike pitted workers and their supporters in the community against the government, which was determined to break the strike.

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