This Week in Labor History: 11/26 - 12/2

labor history

November 26
Six young women burn to death and 19 more die when they leap from the fourth-story windows of a blazing factory in Newark, N.J. The floors and stairs were wooden; the only door through which the women could flee was locked - 1910

November 27

Some 1,200 workers sit down at Midland Steel, forcing recognition of the United Auto Workers, Detroit - 1936

The pro-labor musical revue, “Pins & Needles,” opens on Broadway with a cast of Int’l Ladies Garment Workers Union members. The show ran on Friday and Saturday nights only, because of the cast’s regular jobs. It ran for 1,108 performances before closing - 1937

November 28

William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, born - 1828

National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, precursor to IBEW, founded - 1891

A total of 154 men die in a coal mine explosion at Marianna, Pa. Engineer and General Superintendent A.C. Beeson tells the local newspaper he had been in the mine a few minutes before the blast and had found it to be in perfect condition - 1908

Some 400 New York City photoengravers working for the city’s newspapers, supported by 20,000 other newspaper unionists, begin what is to become an 11-day strike, shutting down the papers - 1953

November 29

Clerks, teamsters and building service workers at Boston Stores in Milwaukee strike at the beginning of the Christmas rush. The strike won widespread support—at one point 10,000 pickets jammed the sidewalks around the main store—but ultimately was lost. Workers returned to the job in mid-January with a small pay raise and no union recognition - 1934

The SS Daniel J. Morrell, a 603-foot freighter, breaks in two during a strong storm on Lake Huron. Twenty-eight of its 29 crewmen died; survivor Dennis Hale was found the next day, near frozen and floating in a life raft with the bodies of three of his crewmates. He had survived for nearly 40 hours in frigid temperatures wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, a lifejacket, and a pea coat – 1966

National Labor Relations Board rules that medical interns can unionize and negotiate wages and hours - 1999

November 30

“Fighting Mary” Eliza McDowell, also known as the “Angel of the Stockyards,” born in Chicago. As a social worker she helped organize the first women’s local of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union in 1902 - 1854

Mother Jones died at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md.; “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!” - 1930

More than 12,000 members of the Insurance Agents Union strike in 35 states and Washington, D.C., against the Prudential Insurance Co. - 1951

Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash. - 1999

December 01

The Ford Motor Co. introduces the continuous moving assembly line which can produce a complete car every two-and-a-half hours - 1913

Kellogg cereal adopts 6-hour day - 1930

African-American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement's campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South's "Jim Crow" laws - 1955

United Garment Workers of America merge with United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union - 1994

Metal Polishers, Buffers, Platers & Allied Workers Int’l Union & United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum & Plastics Workers of America merge with Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers - 1996

December 02

A Chicago "slugger," paid $50 by labor unions for every scab he "discouraged," described his job in an interview: "Oh, there ain't nothing to it. I gets my fifty, then I goes out and finds the guy they wanna have slugged, then I gives it to ‘im" - 1911

The U.S. Senate votes 65-22 to condemn Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy was a rabid anti-Communist who falsely accused thousands of Americans, mostly people who supported labor, civil rights and other progressive causes, of being traitors - 1954

Court documents filed in Boston say Walmart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime - 2009

- Compiled and edited by David Prosten.

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