Today in Labor History

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Archive for the month “March, 2015”

March 31, 2004

Westray-Mine-Memorial-pictureCanada Bill C-45 goes into force, amending the Criminal Code to impose penalties on corporations, managers, and executives for violations causing workplace injuries and deaths. The Westray Bill, as it is known, was named after a methane explosion in the Westray coal mine near Plymouth, Nova Scotia, which killed all 26 miners working there at the time.

March 20, 1905

1576595_origThe R.B. Grover shoe factory in Brockton, Massachusetts, collapses and bursts into flames after its old boiler explodes and shoots up through three floors and the roof. 58 people were killed and 150 injured. The incident led to passage of a national boiler safety code.

March 18, 1937

woolworth-workers-go-on-strike-in-new-everettNew York City police evict and arrest striking Woolworth clerks occupying stores and demanding a 40-hour workweek. Police were met with huge protests at the stores and the precinct where the workers had been taken. Once freed, the clerks returned to the stores and re-occupied them and, in the end, they won a one-year union contract, an eight-hour day, six-day workweek, and a 32.5 cent per hour minimum wage.

March 17, 1960

March 17Five Italian immigrant workers die in an underground tunnel at a water main construction project in suburban Toronto, Canada. The Hoggs Hollow Disaster drew public attention to the unsafe conditions in construction and the exploitation of immigrant workers, and led to the strengthening of Ontario’s labor laws.

March 13, 1919

la21j4Delegates from most union locals in western Canada decide to hold a referendum on forming an independent revolutionary industrial union. The vote showed overwhelming support and in early June, the One Big Union was launched. Thousands of workers joined, including large parts of the mine, transportation, and logging labor force. At its peak in 1920, the OBU had close to 50,000 members.

March 12, 1912

lawrence_strike_child_laborThe Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-led “Bread and Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children ends after ten weeks when the American Woolen Company accedes to the workers’ demands. Soon, the rest of the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile companies followed suit and wages were raised for textile workers throughout New England.

March 9, 1975

Trans-Alaska_Pipeline_System_Luca_Galuzzi_2005Construction begins on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. When completed in 1977, the 789 mile-long pipeline – from Prudhoe Bay to Prince William Sound – was one of the world’s longest. Thirty-two workers died during construction of the privately owned pipeline.

March 3, 1985

article-0-03C2B2E7000005DC-205_468x325[1]A Special Delegate Conference of the National Union of Mineworkers in Great Britain votes 98-91 to return to work after the nearly year-long miners’ strike over the announced closure of twenty mines and the loss of 20,000 jobs. Soon after the strike ended, the Thatcher government’s program of “accelerated closure” was put into practice.

March 2, 1807

3.2.13President Thomas Jefferson signs into law the Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves. It provided heavy penalties for slave traders and ended large-scale importations of slaves into the United States. But it did nothing to undermine the legitimacy of holding men and women in bondage, and the importation of slaves continued, albeit illegally.

March 1, 1900

20111221_barreGraniteWorkersThe Granite Cutters National Union begins a successful nationwide strike for the eight-hour day. The union also won recognition, wage increases, a grievance procedure, and a minimum wage scale.

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