Today in Labor History

Labor history is OUR history

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

January 31, 1938

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12,000 pecan shellers in San Antonio, Texas, walk off their jobs at 400 factories in what would become a three-month strike against wage cuts. The pecan-shelling industry was among the lowest paid in the country; workers made between $2-$3 a week.

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January 29, 2009

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The 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 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The wage gap continues.

January 26, 1897

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The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America is chartered by the American Federation of Labor with seven locals, five of them composed of mostly skilled retail workers. In most meatpacking plants, unskilled workers were the majority. Of this majority, 60 percent earned less than $6 a week. Skilled workers were paid better, with their wages ranging from $3-$3.50 a day.

January 25, 1972

January 25

18-year old Nan Freeman – a college student who responded to appeals for help by striking farm workers at the Talisman Sugar plant near Belle Glade, Florida – is struck and killed by a double trailer truck driven by a scab driver. Pickets had complained to the police about scab drivers speeding by the picket lines through stop signs at the plant gates to splash rain and mud on the striking workers. Cesar Chavez wrote of Freeman, “…she is a sister who picketed with farm workers in the middle of the night because of her love for justice…to be honored and remembered for as long as farm workers struggle for justice.”

January 21, 1919

January 21

35,000 shipyard workers in Seattle go on strike seeking wage increases. They appealed to the Seattle Central Labor Council for support and within two weeks, more than 100 local unions joined in a call for a general strike to begin on the morning of February 6. The 60,000 total strikers paralyzed the city’s normal activities, while their General Strike Committee maintained order and provided essential services.

January 19, 1915

January 19

Guards employed by the Agricultural Fertilizer Chemical Company in Chrome, New Jersey, open fire on unarmed striking workers, killing two people and wounding eighteen others. The next day, 31 deputy sheriffs were arrested, charged with first-degree murder, and held without bail. The workers eventually won a wage increase and nine of the deputies were convicted of manslaughter and received sentences of between two and ten years each.

January 18, 2016

Our needs are identical with labor's needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in th

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday celebrating the birthday of 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 Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. It was officially observed in all fifty states for the first time in 2000.

January 17, 1915

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Organized and led by radical labor organizer, Lucy Parsons, more than 1,500 people march in Chicago, demanding relief from hunger and high levels of unemployment in the city. Parsons was described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.”

January 16, 1946

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The meatpacking industry in the U.S. effectively shuts down when both the United Packinghouse Workers of America and the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America go on strike over wages. Just ten days into the strike, using the War Labor Disputes Act, President Harry Truman seized control of the plants and ordered the workers back to work with the greatest single wage increase ever in the industry.

January 15, 1919

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A 58 ft. high metal tank, 90 ft. in diameter, filled with 2.5 million gallons of crude molasses bursts in Boston, and the explosion sends a 40 ft. tall tidal wave of molasses and debris crashing down Commercial Street. What became known as the Boston Molasses Flood killed 21 workers and residents and injured another 150. After many years of litigation, the United States Industrial Alcohol Company was eventually found culpable and forced to pay a million dollar settlement.

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