Today in Labor History

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January 5, 1933

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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.

July 23, 1877

351sfoAnti-Chinese nativist agitators at a huge outdoor rally in San Francisco about the economic depression and unemployment organized by the Workingmen’s Party of the United States incite a two-day riot of ethnic violence against Chinese workers, resulting in four deaths and the destruction of property. Five years later, President Chester Arthur signed the federal Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting immigration of Chinese laborers.

January 5, 1933

January 5Construction officially begins 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.

December 3, 1867

Labor1$8-hour-day-rincon-annex-muralThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes an eight-hour ordinance covering all city employees. By early 1868, there were dozens of 8-Hour Leagues in San Francisco, and on February 22, thousands marched in San Francisco to celebrate the passage of a statewide eight-hour law.

July 8, 1867

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In response to the 1865 eight-hour day mandate for city employees, employers in San Francisco form the Ten-Hour Association. The association created the Ten-Hour League Society, whose goal was to unite all workers “willing to work at the old rates, neither unjust to the laborers nor ruinous to the capital and enterprise of the city and state, together with all Master Builders and Master Workmen and Capitalists injured by the Eight-Hour rule.” Their efforts failed and in 1868 a statewide eight-hour day law was passed.

July 5, 1934

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5,000 workers fight 1,000 police, scabs, and National Guard troops as employers try to break the longshore strike in San Francisco. Two strikers were killed, 109 people injured. The incident, known as “Bloody Thursday,” led to a general strike. The longshore strike was eventually arbitrated and the workers won their major demands.

May 7, 1907

ImageTwo die and twenty are injured on “Bloody Tuesday” in San Francisco when company strikebreakers open fire on striking streetcar operators. Over the course of the strike, two dozen people died in accidents on the system while it was run by scab labor and an estimated 900+ others were injured.

February 23, 2004

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San Francisco’s minimum wage increase goes into effect, bringing the hourly rate to $8.50 from $6.75.  In 2003, voters approved a local ordinance tying the minimum wage to the regional rate of inflation.  The minimum wage in San Francisco is the highest in the nation, currently at $10.55 an hour.

July 22, 1887

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Brewers and brewery workers in San Francisco sign their first collective bargaining agreement, bringing to a close a strike and successful boycott which had lasted several months.  The agreement included a closed shop, sick leave, a 10-hour day, minimum wages, overtime pay, and “free beer in moderation while at work.”

July 16, 1934

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After the brutality of “Bloody Thursday” (see July 5), the Joint Marine Strike Committee calls for a general strike.  The San Francisco Labor Council voted to support the call and on July 16, the city shut down as workers from all industries walked off the job.  The four-day San Francisco General Strike ended with an agreement on arbitration in which most of the striking longshoremen’s demands were met.

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