2014.08.18history-wevdAugust 18
Radio station WEVD, named for Eugene V. Debs, goes on the air in New York City, operated by The Forward Association as a memorial to the labor and socialist leader - 1927
(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. Debs was a labor activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the heart and soul of the nation’s working people. He was brilliant, sincere, compassionate and scrupulously honest. A founder of one of the nation’s first industrial unions, the American Railway Union, he went on to help launch the Industrial Workers of the World -- the Wobblies. A man of firm beliefs and dedication, he ran for President of the United States five times under the banner of the Socialist Party, in 1912 earning 6 percent of the popular vote.  Many union activists and labor scholars see Debs as the definitive labor leader.)

Founding of the American Federation of Government Employees, following a decision by the National Federation of Federal Employees (later to become part of the Int’l Association of Machinists) to leave the AFL - 1932

August 19
First edition of IWW Little Red Song Book published - 1909

Some 2,000 United Railroads streetcar service workers and supporters parade down San Francisco’s Market Street in support of pay demands and against the company’s anti-union policies. The strike failed in late November in the face of more than 1,000 strikebreakers, some of them imported from Chicago - 1917

Founding of the Maritime Trades Dept. of the AFL-CIO, to give "workers employed in the maritime industry and its allied trades a voice in shaping national policy" - 1946

Phelps-Dodge copper miners in Morenci and Clifton, Ariz., are confronted by tanks, helicopters, 426 state troopers and 325 National Guardsmen brought in to walk strikebreakers through picket lines in what was to become a failed 3-year fight by the Steelworkers and other unions - 19832014.08.18history-amfa-strike

Some 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians, members of AMFA at Northwest Airlines, strike the carrier over job security, pay cuts and work rule changes. The 14-month strike was to fail, with most union jobs lost to replacements and outside contractors - 2005

August 20
The Great Fire of 1910, a wildfire that consumed about 3 million acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana—an area about the size of Connecticut—claimed the lives of 78 firefighters over two days.  It is believed to be the largest, although not deadliest, fire in U.S. history - 1910

Deranged relief postal service carrier Patrick “Crazy Pat” Henry Sherrill shoots and kills 14 coworkers, and wounds another six, before killing himself at an Edmond, Okla., postal facility.  Supervisors had ignored warning signs of Sherrill’s instability, investigators later found; the shootings came a day after he had been reprimanded for poor work.  The incident inspired the objectionable term “going postal” - 1986

August 21
Slave revolt led by Nat Turner begins in Southampton County, Va. - 1831

August 22
Five flight attendants form the Air Line Stewardesses Association, the first labor union representing flight attendants. They were 2014.08.18history-first.contactreacting to an industry in which women were forced to retire at the age of 32, remain single, and adhere to strict weight, height and appearance requirements. The association later became the Association of Flight Attendants, now a division of the Communications Workers of America - 1945
(From First Contact to First Contract: A Union Organizer’s Handbook is a no-nonsense tool from veteran labor organizer and educator Bill Barry. He looks to his own vast experience to document and help organizers through all the stages of a unionization campaign, from how to get it off the ground to how to bring it home with a signed contract and a strong bargaining unit.)

Int’l Broom & Whisk Makers Union disbands - 1963

Joyce Miller, a vice president of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers, becomes first female member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council - 1980

The Kerr-McGee Corp. agrees to pay the estate of the late Karen Silkwood $1.38 million, settling a 10-year-old nuclear contamination 2014.08.18history-silkwood.carlawsuit.  She was a union activist who died in 1974 under suspicious circumstances on her way to talk to a reporter about safety concerns at her plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma - 1986

Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1988

August 23
The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies to capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism. The New York Herald characterized the Commission's president, Frank P. Walsh, as "a Mother Jones in trousers" - 1912

Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world - 1927

Seven merchant seamen crewing the SS Baton Rouge Victory lost their lives when the ship was sunk by Viet Cong action en route to Saigon - 1966

2014.08.18history-chavez.fightFarm Workers Organizing Committee (to later become United Farm Workers of America) granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1966
(The Fight in the Fields: No man in this century has had more of an impact on the lives of Hispanic Americans, and especially farmworkers, than the legendary Cesar Chavez. Born to migrant workers in 1927, he attended 65 elementary schools before finishing 7th grade, the end of his formal education. Through hard work, charisma and uncommon bravery he moved on to become founder and leader of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and to win a degree of justice for tens of thousands of workers... and to set a moral example for the nation.)

August 24
The Gatling Gun Co.—manufacturers of an early machine gun—writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the "recent riotous disturbances around the country." Says the company: "Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling... can clear a street or block and keep it clear" - 1877

National Association of Letter Carriers formed - 1889

United Farm Workers Union begins lettuce strike - 1970