Today in Labor History

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Archive for the category “1930-1939”

February 27, 1937

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Just days after the autoworkers’ victory at General Motors, more than 100 women workers at one of forty Woolworth stores in Detroit, Michigan, begin a sit-down strike over wages, hours, working conditions, and union recognition. Solidarity action in support of the workers was incredible, the strike spread, and on March 5 the workers won their demands, including the union shop. The union won a uniform contract for all forty stores in Detroit, which covered 2,500 workers.

January 31, 1938

altarForEmmaCard

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.

January 5, 1933

january 5

Construction officially began on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Safety netting suspended under the floor of the bridge from end to end saved the lives of nineteen workers; however, ten of the eleven deaths on the job occurred when a section of scaffold fell through the net. The bridge opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world.

January 3, 1931

Floyd Burroughs with Children (2)

Drought and the Great Depression causes hundreds of angry farmers to converge on the town of England, Arkansas, demanding that the Red Cross give them the assistance that had been promised to feed the starving members of their community. When his appeals to President Herbert Hoover for federal aid were dismissed, Will Rogers – who read about the situation in England in the newspaper – embarked on a tour for drought relief.

December 30, 1936

flint-sit-down-strike

Autoworkers at the General Motors Fisher Body No. 1 plant in Flint, Michigan, occupy the factory and begin a sit-down strike that lasts 44 days. The strike ended in a victory for the workers on February 11, 1937, when GM signed a contract with the United Auto Workers, recognizing the union as the sole bargaining agent for the workers in all of its plants.

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 10, 1933

November 10Workers at the Austin, Minnesota, Hormel plant begin a sit-down strike when owner Jay Hormel refuses to negotiate with their union, the Independent Union of All Workers.  Unable to open his blockaded plant, Hormel accepted binding arbitration and the workers received a ten percent wage increase a month later.

October 4, 1936

October 4An estimated crowd of more than 100,000 trade unionists, anti-fascist activists, and local residents barricade streets leading into London’s East End to stop a march by British fascists. The 6,000 police officers who attempted to clear a route for the fascists were met with fierce resistance in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street and the march was re-routed.

October 3, 1932

National guard posted outside a mine in Kincaid, IL.  Governor Horner's decision to send in troops ultimately played in favor of John L. Lewis and the Peabody Coal Company.

State troopers march into Kincaid, Illinois, to guard against a sympathy strike by more than 160 of the town’s 180 high school students, protesting the use by their school of scab-produced coal from the Peabody Coal Company while their fathers are on strike over wages.

September 6, 1934

6a01053653b3c7970b0134876817bc970c-800wiScabs and special deputies open fire on the 300 textile workers picketing the Chiquola Mill in Honea Path, South Carolina, killing six people and wounding dozens of others; a seventh man died the next day from his wounds. The national textile strike of 1934 saw nearly half a million textile workers from New England, the Mid Atlantic, and the South walk off the job to demand better wages and working conditions. [Photograph: Spinning room worker Lois McClain outside her home after having been shot in the left hand.]

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