Today in Labor History

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Archive for the tag “world war ii”

October 15, 1943

October 15At the Tule Lake Segregation Center internment camp – which held over 18,000 Japanese Americans during World War II – a truck carrying agricultural workers tips over, resulting in the death of an internee. Ten days later, the agricultural workers went on strike; the internment camp director fired all of the workers and brought in strikebreakers from other internment camps. After several outbreaks of violence, martial law was declared and 250 internees were arrested and incarcerated in a newly constructed prison within the prison.

July 24, 1941

wpid-0321ov_WWII_Work_Production_PosterWhen their pay was shorted, 700 workers at Canada’s largest aluminum plant in Arvida, Quebec, walk off the job in an illegal (because the industry had been classified as essential to the war effort) strike. The next day, the strike spread to 4,500 workers, who occupied the plant. Work resumed several days later and negotiations began, with the union as intermediary, assisted by federal conciliators.

February 8, 1888

3587bGerman trade union leader and politician Jakob Kaiser is born. Active in the Christian trade union movement in Germany, Kaiser opposed the Nazis, joined the resistance, and was arrested by the Gestapo. After his release, he went into hiding until World War II ended. After the war, Kaiser helped to found the Free German Trade Union Federation.

October 22, 1941

Jean-Pierre_TimbaudFrench trade union leader Jean-Pierre Timbaud and 26 others are executed by the Nazis. Timbaud was secretary of the steelworkers’ trade union section of the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT). During World War II, he joined the French Resistance and organized clandestine trade union committees.

January 23, 1945


Nazi resistance fighter and Catholic trade union activist Nikolaus Gross is hanged at Plotzensee Prison in Berlin, Germany, after having been arrested in connection with the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. “If we do not risk our life today, how do we then want one day to justify ourselves before God and our people?” Gross was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

January 12, 1942


President Franklin Roosevelt reinstates Woodrow Wilson’s National War Labor Board (NWLB) in an attempt to forestall labor-management conflict during World War II and prevent strikes which would slow industrial production and impede the war effort.

April 29, 1943

ImageThe special representative to the National War Labor Board issues a report, “Retroactive Date for Women’s Pay Adjustments,” setting forth provisions respecting wage rates for women working in war industries who were asking for equal pay. A directive issued by the board in September 1942 stated that “rates for women shall be set in accordance with the principle of equal pay for comparable quantity and quality of work on comparable operations.”

December 27, 1943


President Franklin Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9412.  “Railroad strikes by three Brotherhoods have been ordered for next Thursday,” Roosevelt said in a statement.  “The Government will expect every railroad man to continue at his post of duty.  The major military offensives now planned must not be delayed by the interruption of vital transportation facilities.  If any employees of the railroads now strike, they will be striking against the Government of the United States.”

May 31, 1997


Rose Will Monroe, who became known as “Rosie the Riveter” dies at the age of 77.  Rose worked at an aircraft parts factory during World War II, and was “discovered” by filmmakers producing a film promoting war bonds.  The song and the iconic poster were already well known and a real-life Rosie who was a riveter “proved too good for the film’s producers to resist,” said Monroe’s daughter.

April 26, 1944


After management at Montgomery Ward repeatedly refuses to comply with an order by the National War Labor Board (created to avert strikes in critical war-support industries) to recognize the workers’ union and abide by the collective bargaining agreement that the board worked out, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the Army National Guard to seize the company’s property in Chicago and remove its chairman, Sewell Avery.

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