Friday, February 13, 2015

Today in Labor History

A national eight-month strike by the Sons of Vulcan, a union of iron forgers, ends in victory when employers agreed to a wage scale based on the price of iron bars—the first time employers recognized the union, the first union contract in the iron and steel industry, and what may be the first union contract of any kind in the United States - 1865
Some 12,000 Hollywood writers returned to work today following a largely successful three-month strike against television and motion picture studios. They won compensation for their TV and movie work that gets streamed on the Internet - 20082015.02.09history-working.stiffs
(Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Expanded Guide to Films About Labor is an encyclopedic guide to 350 labor films from around the world, ranging from those you’ve heard of—Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me—to those you’ve never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them. Fiction and nonfiction, the films are about unions, labor history, working-class life, political movements, and the struggle between labor and capital.)
2015.02.09history-douglassFebruary 12
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass born into slavery near Easton, Md. - 1818
John L. Lewis, president of United Mine Workers of America and founding president of the CIO, born near Lucas, Iowa - 1880

February 11
Five hundred Japanese and 200 Mexican laborers unite to fight the labor contractor responsible for hiring at the American Beet Sugar Co. in Oxnard, Calif. They ultimately win higher wages and the right to shop at stores not owned by the company - 1903
2015.02.09history-mother.jones.arrestedMary Harris “Mother” Jones is arrested while leading a protest of conditions in West Virginia mines. She was 83 years old at the time - 1913
Fifteen thousand rubber workers strike in Akron, Ohio, protesting speed-up - 1913
The Seattle General Strike ends after six days. Some 65,000 workers struck for higher pay after two years of World War I wage controls - 1919
“White Shirt Day” at UAW-represented GM plants. Union members are encouraged to wear white shirts, marking the anniversary of the 1936-1937 Flint sit-down strike that gave the union bargaining rights at the automaker. The mission: send a message that “blue collar” workers deserve the same respect as their management counterparts. One of the day’s traditional rules: Don’t get your shirt any dirtier than the boss gets his. The 44-day strike was won in 1937 but the tradition didn’t begin until 1948, at the suggestion of Local 598 member Bert Christenson - 1948
Some 1,300 sanitation workers begin what is to become a 64-day strike in Memphis, ultimately winning union recognition and wage increases. The April 4 assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr., who had been taking an active role in mass meetings and street actions, brought pressure on the city to settle the strike - 19682015.02.09history-orgchange
(Organizing for Social Change, 4th edition: Now in its fourth edition, with updates reflecting changes in contexts and technologies, this is an organizer’s Bible: a comprehensive, real-world tool for organizers of all stripes determined to create attention and affect change. Compiled by leaders of the Midwest Academy, a respected training ground for serious union, community and nonprofit organizers since 1973, the book deals with everything from tactics to the mechanics of how to track a campaign, from coalition-building to using the media to supervising less experienced organizers.)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announces he will call out the National Guard, if necessary, to deal with any "unrest" among state employees in the wake of his decision to unilaterally end nearly all collective bargaining rights for the workers. In 2015 he formed an exploratory committee to run for president - 2011

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