Today in Labor History

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Archive for the month “November, 2015”

November 30, 2011

November 30

Public service workers in the United Kingdom join the biggest single strike since 1926, against the government’s pension reforms. About two-thirds of state schools closed, and thousands of hospital operations were postponed, as unions estimated up to two million people went on strike.

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November 28, 1953

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400 photo engravers employed by New York City newspapers go on strike over wages and improved working conditions. 20,000 other newspaper workers represented by other unions refused to cross the photo engravers’ picket lines. The strike ended eleven days later with the workers receiving a $3/week wage increase.

November 27, 1937

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The musical revue, “Pins & Needles,” opens on Broadway with a cast of International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union members. The show – a “lighthearted look at young workers in a changing society in the middle of America’s most politically engaged city” – ran on Friday and Saturday nights only, because of the casts’ regular jobs. It ran for 1,108 performances before closing.

November 26, 1910

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Four months before the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a sweatshop in Newark, New Jersey, catches fire, killing more than two dozen women and girls. The fire made national news and more than 100,000 people flocked to the scene the next day. A coroner’s jury a month later deemed the fire the result of human error: “They died from misadventure and accident.”

November 25, 1946

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Teachers strike in St. Paul, Minnesota, the first organized walkout by teachers in the country. The month-long “strike for better schools” involving some 1,100 teachers — and principals — led to a number of reforms in the way schools were administered and operated.

November 24, 1875

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The United Cigar Makers of New York affiliates with the Cigar Makers’ International Union (CMIU) to form CMIU Local 144. Samuel Gompers was elected first president of the local and served several terms before going on to serve as the international’s vice president. “[W]e are powerless in an isolated condition,” Gompers said, “while the capitalists are united; therefore it is the duty of every Cigar Maker to join the organization.”

November 22, 1909

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Striking garment worker and International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union organizer Clara Lemlich delivers an impassioned speech for a general strike to support her co-workers who had gone out on strike in early November for better wages, working conditions, and hours.  The next day, 20,000 shirtwaist workers took to the streets of New York.  An estimated 30,000 workers participated in the 11-week long strike.

November 20, 1896

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Rose Pesotta — union organizer, anarchist, and vice president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union — is born. Pesotta began working in a shirtwaist factory in New York in 1913 and there became involved with ILGWU Local 25. She went on to organize tirelessly for the union around the country and in 1934 was elected vice president of the ILGWU, the first woman to hold that position. [Photo: Pesotta taken into custody during the 1941 Los Angeles garment strike; she was charged with battery of a police officer.]

November 19, 1915

November 19

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer and songwriter Joe Hill is executed in Utah after having been framed on a murder charge. While in prison, Hill sent a telegram to IWW leader Big Bill Haywood: “Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize!” In a later telegram, he added, “Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.”

November 18, 1929

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Viljo Rosvall and Janne Voutilainen – two Finnish-Canadian members of the Lumber Workers Industrial Union of Canada from Thunder Bay, Ontario – disappear on their way to recruit sympathetic bushworkers for a strike. Their bodies were found at Onion Lake by a union search party the following spring and the community suspected that they had been murdered by company thugs.

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