Thursday, November 05, 2015

Today in Labor History

Eugene V. Debs, labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born - 1855

Everett, Wash., massacre, at least seven Wobblies killed, 50 wounded and an indeterminate number missing - 1916

Some 12,000 television and movie writers begin what was to become a 3-month strike against producers over demands for an increase in pay for movies and television shows released on DVD and for a bigger share of the revenue from work delivered over the Internet - 2007

(How familiar do these phrases ring? Unions are responsible for 
budget deficits; they’ve outlived their usefulness; their members are overpaid and enjoy cushy benefits. The only way to save the American economy, many say, is to weaken the labor movement, strip workers of collective bargaining rights, and champion private industry. In They're Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions, longtime labor activist and educator Bill Fletcher Jr. makes sense of this debate as he unpacks the 21 myths most often cited by anti-union propagandists.)

November 04
Populist humorist Will Rogers was born on this day near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” - 1879
Some 3,000 dairy farmers demonstrate in Neillsville, Wisc., ultimately leading to the freeing of jailed leaders of a milk strike over low prices set by large dairy plants. Tons of fresh milk were dumped on public roads, trains carrying milk were stopped, some cheese plants were bombed during the fight - 1933
After a struggle lasting more than two years, 6,000 Steelworkers members at Bridgestone/Firestone win a settlement in which strikers displaced by scabs got their original jobs back. The fight started when management demanded that the workers accept 12-hour shifts - 1996

November 03
Striking milk drivers dump thousands of gallons of milk on New York City streets - 1921
Some 5,000 Philadelphia-area public transit workers begin what was to be a 6-day strike centered on wages and pension benefits - 2009

November 02
Police arrest 150 in IWW free speech fight, Spokane, Wash. - 1909

Railroad union leader & socialist Eugene V. Debs receives nearly a million votes for president while imprisoned - 1920

President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to be observed on the third Monday of January - 1983

(All Labor Has Dignity: People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform.)

Carmen Fasanella retired after 68 years and 243 days of taxicab service in Princeton, N.J., earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.  He started driving at age 17 and, reportedly, chauffeured Princeton Professor Albert Einstein around town - 1989

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