Today in Labor History

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Archive for the tag “philadelphia”

February 19, 1910

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The Philadelphia Rapid Transit trolley company fires 173 workers – all members of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America – and replaces them with scabs from New York City. Street battles, demonstrations, and a general strike ensued in the city that lasted for 57 days.

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November 3, 2009

n06-sept-480Nearly 5,000 transit workers represented by Transport Workers Union Local 234 begin a strike in Philadelphia over wages, pensions, and benefits. The strike shut down the city’s bus, subway, and trolley service and after six days, a five-year contract deal was reached that provided pay and benefit increases.

August 11, 1828

Photo29375The Mechanics’ Union of Trade Associations – a central labor organization in Philadelphia that was formed after building trades workers lost a strike for the ten hour day – organizes the Working Men’s Party, determined to promote “the interests and enlightenment of the working classes.”

August 1, 1944

Motormen.Trolley.gsAfter the Philadelphia Transit Company promotes eight black transit workers to the position of trolley car driver, a sickout begins by white transit workers in defiance of their newly elected bargaining agent, the Transport Workers Union, which urged the company to integrate its workforce. Federal troops intervened, taking control of the transit system and providing protection for black motormen. In the end, it was a milestone in the battle against race discrimination in the workplace and a victory not just for black workers, but for the white workers who stood with them.

February 20, 1908

voltairine-de-cleyres-quotes-5On their way to City Hall to demand jobs and relief, more than 1,000 unemployed workers battle with police in Philadelphia. Police arrest fourteen people and Voltairine de Cleyre – an anarchist who spoke at a rally earlier in the day – is charged with inciting to riot.

May 25, 1805

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In Philadelphia, leaders of a shoemakers’ union are arrested for organizing one of the country’s first strikes. They were brought to trial on criminal conspiracy charges of trying to raise their wages and convicted. In 1842, another case – also involving a strike by shoemakers – overturned the precedent set by Commonwealth v. Pullis.

May 13, 1913

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4,000 dockworkers and members of the predominantly African-American Marine Transport Workers’ Local 8 of the Industrial Workers of the World begin what will be a successful strike in Philadelphia over wages and union recognition. Through strikes, slow-downs, and other workplace actions, Local 8 secured raises for all dockworkers – even those who were not IWW members – well into the 1940s.

February 9, 1854

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Novelist, journalist, and social activist George Lippard dies. Considered the first muckraking novel in the United States, his “The Quaker City” (1845) was a best seller about city life in Philadelphia. In 1849, Lippard founded the Brotherhood of the Union to “espouse the cause of the Masses, and battle against the tyrants of the Social System – against corrupt Bankers, against Land Monopolists, and against all Monied Oppressors.” The Brotherhood eventually had 40,000 members in 20 states.

February 6, 1910

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A strike by shirtwaist workers – primarily immigrant women and girls – in Philadelphia’s garment sweatshops ends. Despite mass arrests, intimidation, scabs, and media blasts against them, the workers refused to back down until their demands for improved working conditions, reduce working hours, increased wages, and union recognition were met. [Photo: unidentified shirtwaist workers, probably in New York, ca. 1909.]

November 3, 2009

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Nearly 5,000 transit workers represented by Transport Workers Union Local 234 begin a strike in Philadelphia over wages, pensions, and benefits.  The strike shut down the city’s bus, subway, and trolley service and after six days, a five-year contract deal was reached that provided pay and benefit increases.

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