This Week in Labor History: 6/11 - 6/17

June 11
Representatives from the AFL, Knights of Labor, populists, railroad brotherhoods and other trade unions hold a unity conference in St. Louis but fail to overcome their differences - 1894
(Welcome to the Union: Don’t let management’s voice be the only one heard by new employees who hire on in your unionized workplace. Welcome them to the job with this easy-to-read, solidarity-building introduction to unionism. It comes in two versions—public sector and private sector.)

Police shoot at maritime workers striking United Fruit Co. in New Orleans; one killed, two wounded - 1913

John L. Lewis dies. A legendary figure, he was president of the United Mine Workers from 1920 to 1960 and a driving force behind the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations - 1969

June 12
Fifty thousand members of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen employed in meatpacking plants walk off their jobs; demands include equalization of wages and conditions throughout U.S. plants - 1904

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidates two sections of a Florida law: one required state licensing of paid union business agents, the other required registration with the state of all unions and their officers - 1945

Major League Baseball strike begins, forces cancellation of 713 games. Most observers blamed team owners for the strike: they were trying to recover from a court decision favoring the players on free agency - 1981

June 13
Congress creates a Bureau of Labor, under the Interior Department.  It later became independent as a Department of Labor without executive status in the Department of Commerce and Labor; in 1913 it became the Department of Labor we know today - 1884
 
Tony Mazzocchi born in Brooklyn, N.Y. An activist and officer in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union, he was a mentor to Karen Silkwood, a founder of the Labor Party, and a prime mover behind the 1970 passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act - 1926
 
June 14
Unions legalized in Canada – 1872

The first commercial computer, UNIVAC I, is installed at the U.S. Census Bureau - 1951
 
June 15
The Metal Trades Department of what is now the AFL-CIO is founded - 1908
 
The Congress of Industrial Organizations expels the Fur and Leather Workers union and the American Communications Association for what it describes as communist activities - 1947
 
Battle of Century City, as police in Los Angeles attack some 500 janitors and their supporters during a peaceful Service Employees Int’l Union demonstration against cleaning contractor ISS. The event generated public outrage that resulted in recognition of the workers' union and spurred the creation of an annual June 15 Justice for Janitors Day - 1990
 
June 16
Eight local unions organize the Int’l Fur Workers Union of U.S. and Canada. The union later merged with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen - 1913
 
Railroad union leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs speaks in Canton, Ohio, on the relation between capitalism and war. Ten days later he is arrested under the Espionage Act, eventually sentenced to 10 years in jail - 1918
 
The National Industrial Recovery Act became law, but was later to be declared unconstitutional. It established the right to unionize, set maximum hours and minimum wages for every major industry, abolished sweatshops and child labor. The Wagner Act, in effect today, was approved two years later to legalize unionization - 1933
 
Inacom Corp., once the world's largest computer dealer, sends most of its 5,100 employees an email instructing them to call a toll-free phone number; when they call, a recorded message announces they have been fired - 2000
 
June 17
Twenty-one young women and girls making cartridges for the Union Army at the Washington, D.C. arsenal during the Civil War are killed in an accidental explosion. Most of the victims were Irish immigrants. A monument was erected in the Congressional Cemetery, where 17 of the workers were buried - 1864

Susan B. Anthony goes on trial in Canandaigua, N.Y., for casting her ballot in a federal election the previous November, in violation of existing statutes barring women from the vote - 1873
 
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones leads a rally in Philadelphia to focus public attention on children mutilated in the state's textile mills. Three weeks later the 73-year-old will lead a march to New York City to plead with President Theodore Roosevelt to help improve conditions for the children - 1903
 
Twelve trade unionists meet in Pittsburgh to launch a drive to organize all steelworkers. It was the birth of the United Steelworkers of America (then called the Steel Workers Organizing Committee). By the end of the year 125,000 workers joined the union in support of its $5-a-day wage demand – 1936

Nine firefighters are killed, eight more injured when a large section of Boston’s Hotel Vendom collapses on them.  The firefighters were performing cleanup when the collapse occurred, having successfully fought a fire at the luxury hotel earlier in the day - 1972
 
June 18
Union and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph and others meet with President Roosevelt about a proposed July 1 March on Washington to protest discrimination in war industries. A week later, Roosevelt orders that the industries desegregate - 1941
 
—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

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