Today in Labor History

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Archive for the category “1890-1899”

February 4, 1896

February 3

The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers is formed at a meeting in Pittsburgh with 16 delegates from local unions. Today, the union represents 120,000 ironworkers in North America.

January 26, 1897


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.

November 20, 1896


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 8, 1892

nov 8Approximately 25,000 workers in New Orleans – half the city’s workforce – begin what will be a three day general strike in support of a strike by three other unions over hours, wages, and job security.

October 25, 1899

jermynfirstaidsignTwenty-five anthracite coal miners from the Jermyn Coal Colliery in northeastern Pennsylvania attend what is believed to be the first formal training on first aid. Believing that many lives could be saved with quick, efficient medical care until a physician arrived, local doctor Matthew Shields set up a series of courses for the miners who, upon completion, were prepared and able to render first aid to their co-workers.

October 7, 1897

ale_briderDer Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Polyn, un Rusland (The General Union of Jewish Workers in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), known simply as the Jewish Labor Bund, is founded in Vilna, demanding equal civil rights for Jewish workers and an end to anti-Jewish discrimination.

September 20, 1891

sharecroppingAfrican American sharecroppers affiliated with the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Union go on strike for higher wages and an end to peonage in Lee County, Arkansas. By the time a white mob – led by the local sheriff – put down the strike, more than a dozen people had been killed.

September 1, 1893

Canadian_Work_Seminar-Oil_SandsThe International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is founded in Chicago. Today, the union represents workers from over 250 locals throughout the United States and Canada working in industrial construction, repair, and maintenance; manufacturing; shipbuilding and marine repair; railroad; mining and quarrying; cement kilns; and related industries.

August 26, 1894

StateLibQld_1_67991_Shearing_at_the_woolshed_at_Jimbour_Station,_ca._1895Striking sheep shearers in New South Wales, Australia, burn and scuttle the paddle steamer Rodney, which had been transporting scab labor. Later that day, Billy McClean, a union shearer, was shot and wounded in an altercation with scabs. He and five others were charged with rioting and sentenced to three years’ hard labor. McClean was released after eighteen months because he was dying from the bullet wound and died on March 22, 1896.

June 25, 1893

June 25The Haymarket Martyrs Monument is dedicated at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, to honor those framed and executed for the bombing at Chicago’s Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886. More than 8,000 people attended the dedication ceremony. At the base of the monument are the last words of Haymarket martyr August Spies: “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.”

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