This Week in Labor History: April 18 - 22

labor history

April 18
West Virginia coal miners strike, defend selves against National Guard - 1912
 
After a four-week boycott led by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., bus companies in New York City agree to hire 200 Black drivers and mechanics - 1941
 
April 19
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the nation’s “Furniture City,” more than 6,000 immigrant workers—Germans, Dutch, Lithuanians and Poles—put down their tools and struck 59 factories for four months in what was to become known as the Great Furniture Strike - 1911

An American domestic terrorist’s bomb destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, 99 of whom were government employees - 1995
 
April 20
Nearly 10,000 demonstrators celebrate textile workers’ win of a 10-percent pay hike and grievance committees after a one-month strike, Lowell, Mass. - 1912
 
Ludlow massacre: Colorado state militia, using machine guns and fire, kill about 20 people—including 11 children—at a tent city set up by striking coal miners - 1914
 
An unknown assailant shoots through a window at United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther as he is eating dinner at his kitchen table, permanently impairing his right arm. It was one of at least two assassination attempts on Reuther. He and his wife later died in a small plane crash under what many believe to be suspicious circumstances - 1948
 
National Association of Post Office Mail Handlers, Watchmen, Messengers & Group Leaders merge with Laborers - 1968
 
United Auto Workers members end a successful 172-day strike against International Harvester, protesting management demands for new work rules and mandatory overtime provisions - 1980
(They're Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions: 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.)
 
April 21
New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signs Taylor Law, permitting union organization and bargaining by public employees, but outlawing the right to strike - 1967
 
Some 12,500 Goodyear Tire workers strike nine plants in what was to become a 3-week walkout over job security, wage and benefit issues - 1997

Mary Doyle Keefe, who in 1943 posed as “Rosie the Riveter” for famed painter Norman Rockwell, dies at age 92 in Simsbury, Connecticut. Published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in May 1943, Rosie came to symbolize women factory workers during World War II. (The Rockwell painting is sometimes conjoined in peoples’ memories with a similarly-themed poster by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller, “We Can Do It!” created the year before.) - 2015

April 22
Songwriter, musician and activist Hazel Dickens dies at age 75. Among her songs: “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” and “Working Girl Blues.” Cultural blogger John Pietaro: "Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them. Her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause" - 2011

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