Today in Labor History

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Archive for the category “1940-1949”

March 16, 1948

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Refusing to accept a 9-cent wage increase, the United Packinghouse Workers of America initiates a nationwide strike against meatpacking companies Swift, Armour, Cudahy, Wilson, Morrell, and others. Packinghouse workers shut down 140 plants around the country.

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March 7, 1942

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Lucy Parsons – anarchist, feminist, labor organizer – dies. “My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production.”

February 25, 1941

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The February Strike begins. It was a general strike in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands by workers against the pogroms and deportation of Jews in Amsterdam. It was the only direct action of its kind during World War II in Europe against the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. The strike is commemorated annually on February 25 at the statue of the De Dokwerker (“The Dock Worker”) in Amsterdam.

February 23, 1940

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Woody Guthrie writes “This Land Is Your Land” following a trip hitchhiking and riding the rails from California to New York. It was a musical response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it.”

February 3, 1941

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The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously in United States v. Darby to uphold the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which banned certain types of child labor, established a minimum wage, and set a maximum workweek at 44 hours.

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.

December 10, 1948

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The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part, that everyone has the right to good working conditions, equal pay for equal work, fair compensation, the right to form and join trade unions, and limited working hours.

December 3, 1946

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In Oakland, California, 130,000 workers from 142 unions – including workers from factories, industries, services, retail stores, transportation systems, and more – declare a “work holiday” and walk off their jobs in support of striking department store clerks and in opposition to police intervention that was facilitating strike breaking activity. The Oakland General Strike lasted for two days.

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 7, 1945

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Machinists in Stamford, Connecticut, go on strike when the Yale and Towne lock company terminates its contractual obligations and withdraws recognition of their union. The company’s union-busting effort was met with a city-wide general strike on January 3 in which 10,000 people marched and rallied in support of the workers. By early April, the company conceded.

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