Today in Labor History

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Archive for the category “1960-1969”

January 1, 1966


Members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Amalgamated Transit Union working for the New York City Transit Authority begin what would be a successful twelve day strike. TWU leader Mike Quill and eight other union leaders were arrested for violating an injunction issued to end the strike. “I don’t care if I rot in jail,” Quill said, “I will not call off the strike.”

September 8, 1965

blood-on-grapesFilipino American grape workers walk out on strike against Delano, California, table and wine grape growers, protesting years of poor pay and working conditions. Latino farm workers soon joined them, and the strike and subsequent boycott lasted more than five years. In 1970, growers signed their first union contracts with the United Farm Workers union, which included better pay, benefits, and protections.

August 9, 1965

image003During construction repair work at the Titan II Launch Complex outside Searcy, Arkansas, a flash fire sucks the oxygen out of the silo, killing 53 of the 55 workers inside. The Air Force blamed the fire on human error; the surviving workers said that a mechanical fault started the fire.

June 7, 1968

webmediaWomen sewing machinists at Ford’s Dagenham factory in London go out on strike over pay discrimination. Three weeks later, they agreed to return to work after being offered 92% of the men’s wages. Two years later, the Equal Pay Act of 1970 was enacted, which, for the first time, prohibited less favorable treatment between men and women in terms of pay and conditions of employment.

June 1, 1966

farm-worker-picture-3Farm workers at La Casita Farms in Starr County, Texas, go on strike over wages and union recognition. The melon strike became the first major civil rights event in the state during the late 1960s. Brutality by Texas Rangers and local law enforcement broke the strike after a year.

April 25, 1969

hospitalstrike-main photo_500x500The governor of South Carolina declares a state of emergency in Charleston and orders more than 100,000 state troopers and members of the National Guard to break a strike by predominantly African American Medical University Hospital workers seeking recognition for their union, Local 1199B of the Retail Drug and Hospital Employees. In the end, the employer promised to rehire the striking workers they had fired, abide by a newly established grievance process, and provide modest pay increases.

March 17, 1960

March 17Five Italian immigrant workers die in an underground tunnel at a water main construction project in suburban Toronto, Canada. The Hoggs Hollow Disaster drew public attention to the unsafe conditions in construction and the exploitation of immigrant workers, and led to the strengthening of Ontario’s labor laws.

January 4, 1965

January 4Eight thousand social workers represented by two different unions in New York City go on strike over workload and wages. Mayor Robert Wagner fired all of the strikers and threw nineteen leaders in jail for two weeks, but the workers won the strike within a month. Supported by organized labor, the civil rights movement, and a community coalition, it was the longest labor action by public employees in the history of New York City.

December 12, 1964

grève2Nine million French workers – more than half of the country’s workforce – participate in a nationwide strike of public service workers over the stagnation of wages under President Charles de Gaulle’s government.

September 5, 1964


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn dies at age 74. Flynn was an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and an activist for women’s rights, birth control, and women’s suffrage.

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