Friday, December 05, 2014

Today in Labor History

Unionists John T. and James B. McNamara are sentenced to 15 years and life, respectively, after confessing to dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a drive to unionize the metal trades in the city. They placed the bomb in an alley next to the building, set to detonate when they thought the building would be empty; it went off early, and an unanticipated gas explosion and fire did the real damage, killing twenty people. The newspaper was strongly conservative and anti-union - 1911
Ending a 20-year split, the two largest labor federations in the U.S. merge to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million - 1955
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcomes the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, declaring, "No deal is better than a bad deal." - 1999
The U.S. Department of Labor reports employers slashed 533,000 jobs the month before—the most in 34 years—as the Great Recession surged. The unemployment rolls had risen for seven months before that and were to continue to soar for another 10 months before topping 10 percent and beginning to level off late the following year - 2008
2014.12.01history-hardtimes.bookcover(Some unions and workers continue to struggle as a result of the Great Recession. Union Strategies for Hard Times, Helping Your Members and Building Your Union, 2nd Edition, offers guidance for leaders trying to help laid off members, protect those still working, and prevent the gutting of their hard-fought contracts—and their very unions themselves.)

December 04
President Roosevelt announces the end of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), concluding the four-year run of one of the American government's most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains - 1943
UAW President Walter Reuther elected president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations - 1952
Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers' grape boycott - 1970
December 03
Textile strikers win 10-hour day, Fall River, Mass. - 1866
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance setting an 8-hour workday for all city employees - 1867
IWW union Brotherhood of Timber Workers organized - 1910
Canada’s Quebec Bridge, spanning the St. Lawrence River, opens to traffic on this day after the deaths of 89 construction workers in the course of the job. A flawed design was blamed for a 1907 collapse that killed 75; another 13 died in 1916 when a hoisting device failed as the central span was being lifted - 1919
General strike begins in Oakland, Calif., started by female department store clerks - 1946
The express passenger train "20th Century Limited" ends more than 60 years of service when it takes its last run from New York City to Chicago - 1967
Some 5,000 union construction workers in Oahu, Hawaii, march to City Hall in protest of a proposed construction moratorium by the city council – 1976
At least four thousand people die, and as many as 20,000, in one of the largest industrial disasters on record. It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant. The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues - 1984
2014.12.01history-realworld.bookcover(Real World Labor: Economics, Politics & Social History, 2nd edition: With more than 80 articles by leading writers and scholars of the labor movement, this essential anthology addresses recent changes in the nature of work and wages; discrimination by race, gender, and immigration status; militarism and its effects on the working class; union responses to the global financial meltdown; and new forms of rank-and-file organizing and resistance.)
Arrests began today in Middleton, N.J., of teachers striking in violation of a no-strike law. Ultimately 228 educators were jailed for up to seven days before they were released following the Middleton Township Education Association's agreement to take the dispute to mediation - 2001

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