This Week in Labor History: 9/24 - 9/30

labor history

September 24

Canada declares the Wobblies illegal - 1918

September 25

Kids at Work Lewis Hine
American photographer Lewis Hine born in Oshkosh, Wisc. - 1874
 
Two African-American sharecroppers are killed during an ultimately unsuccessful cotton-pickers’ strike in Lee County, Ark.  By the time the strike had been suppressed, 15 African-Americans had died and another six had been imprisoned.  A White plantation manager was killed as well - 1891

September 26


The Old 97, a Southern Railway train officially known as the Fast Mail, derails near Danville, Va., killing engineer Joseph “Steve” Broady and ten other railroad and postal workers.  Many believe Broady had been ordered to speed to make up for lost time.  The Wreck of the Old 97 inspired balladeers; a 1924 recording is sometimes cited as the first million-selling country music record - 1903
 
The first production Ford Model T leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Mich.  It was the first car ever manufactured on an assembly line, with interchangeable parts.  The auto industry was to become a major U.S. employer, accounting for as many as one of every eight to 10 jobs in the country - 1908

September 27

Striking textile workers in Fall River, Mass., demand bread for their starving children - 1875
 
The Int’l Typographical Union renews a strike against the Los Angeles Times; a boycott runs intermittently from 1896 to 1908. A local anti-Times committee in 1903 persuades William Randolph Hearst to start a rival paper, the Los Angeles Examiner. Although the ITU kept up the fight into the 1920s, the Times remained totally nonunion until 2009, when the GCIU—now the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters—organized the pressroom – 1893

Int’l Ladies' Garment Workers Union begins strike against Triangle Shirtwaist Co.  This would become the "Uprising of the 20,000," resulting in 339 of 352 struck firms—but not Triangle—signing agreements with the union.  The Triangle fire that killed 146 would occur less than two years later - 1909
 
Twenty-nine west coast ports lock out 10,500 workers in response to what management says is a worker slowdown in the midst of negotiations on a new contract.  The ports are closed for 10 days, reopen when President George W. Bush invokes the Taft-Hartley Act - 2002

September 28

The International Workingmen’s Association is founded in London.  It was an international organization trying to unite a variety of different left-wing, socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and unions.  It functioned for about 12 years, growing to a membership declared to be eight million, before being disbanded at its Philadelphia conference in 1876, victim of infighting brought on by the wide variety of members’ philosophies - 1864

September 29

A report by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the average weekly take-home pay of a factory worker with three dependents is now $94.87 – 1962

Tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets of Europe, striking against government austerity measures. Workers in more than a dozen countries participate, including Spain, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, and Lithuania, protesting job losses, retirement deferments, pension reductions, and cuts to schools, hospitals, and welfare services - 2010

September 30

A total of 29 strike leaders are charged with treason—plotting "to incite insurrection, rebellion & war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"—for daring to strike the Carnegie Steel Co. in Homestead, Pa. Jurors refuse to convict them - 1892

 
Seventy-year-old Mother Jones organizes the wives of striking miners in Arnot, Pa., to descend on the mine with brooms, mops and clanging pots and pans.  They frighten away the mules and their scab drivers.  The miners eventually won their strike - 1899
 
Railroad shopmen in 28 cities strike the Illinois Central Railroad and the Harriman lines for an 8-hour day, improved conditions and union recognition, but railroad officials obtain sweeping injunctions against them and rely on police and armed guards to protect strikebreakers - 1915
 
Black farmers meet in Elaine, Ark., to establish the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices.  They are shot at by a group of Whites, and return the fire.  News of the confrontation spread and a riot ensued, leaving at least 100, perhaps several hundred, Blacks dead and 67 indicted for inciting violence - 1919
 
Cesar Chavez, with Dolores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America - 1962

- Compiled and edited by David Prosten.

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