Friday, September 12, 2014

Today in Labor History

September 12  --  Union Communications Services, Inc.
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and socialist, sentenced to 10 years for opposing World War I. While in jail Debs received one million votes for president - 1918

Jobless workers march on grocery stores and seize food in Toledo, Ohio – 1932
National Guardsmen fire on “sullen and rebellious” strikers at the Woonsocket (Rhode Island) Rayon plant, killing one and injuring three others.  A correspondent said the crowd of about 2,000 “went completely wild with rage.”  Word spread, 6,000 more workers arrived at the scene and the city was put under military rule.  The governor declared that “there is a Communist uprising and not a textile strike” in the state - 1934

2014.09.08history-landmarks.bookcoverUnited Rubber Workers formed in Akron, Ohio - 1935

A total of 49 people are killed, 200 injured, in explosion at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Kenvil, N.J. - 1940

New York City’s Union Square, the site of the first Labor Day in 1882, is officially named a national historic landmark. The square has long been a focal point for working class protest and political expression - 1998
(Inventory of American Labor Landmarks: Planning a fall vacation?  This attractive booklet offers a nice selection from the Labor Heritage Foundation’s comprehensive, ongoing inventory of labor landmarks across the country.)
September 11
Some 75,000 coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia end a 10-week strike after winning an 8-hour day, semi-monthly pay, and the abolition of overpriced company-owned stores, where they had been forced to shop. (Remember the song, "Sixteen Tons," by coal miner’s son Merle Travis, in which there’s this line: "I owe my soul to the company store.") - 1897
More than 3,000 people died when suicide highjackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a2014.09.08history-FDNY-911Pennsylvania field.  Among the dead in New York were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell - 2001
Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life Norma Rae of the movies, dies at age 68. She worked at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., when low pay and poor working conditions led her to become a union activist - 2009

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