February 08
Mary Kenney O'Sullivan is born in Hannibal, Mo.  At age 28 she was to be appointed the first female general organizer for the American Federation of Labor by AFL President Samuel Gompers - 1864
 
Vigilantes beat IWW organizers for exercising free-speech rights, San Diego - 1912
 
February 09
Wobbly activist Tom Mooney convicted in bombing frame-up orchestrated by Pinkerton Detective Agency. He was pardoned and released 22 years later - 1917
 
Congress approves legislation allowing for a total of $940 million to be used for Depression-era relief projects. $790 million of this money was intended to be used to fund work relief and flood recovery programs - 1937
 
U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy falsely charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. It seems that just about everyone else the Wisconsin senator didn’t like was a Communist as well, including scores of unionists. This was the beginning of "McCarthyism." He ultimately was officially condemned by the Senate and died of alcoholism - 1950
 
President Kennedy asks Congress to approve creation of the Medicare program, financed by an increase in Social Security taxes, to aid 14.2 million Americans aged 65 or older - 1961
 
Some 19,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers in Washington state and Oregon begin what is to become a 40-day strike over economic issues - 2000
 
February 10
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) founds the Building and Construction Trades Department as a way to overcome the jurisdictional conflicts occurring in the building and construction unions - 1908

(Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits: A Century of Building Trades History follows the history of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO from the emergence of building trades councils to the age of the skyscraper. It takes the reader through treacherous fights over jurisdiction as new building materials and methods of work evolved and describes numerous Department campaigns to improve safety standards, work with contractors to promote unionized construction, and forge a sense of industrial unity among its fifteen (and at times nineteen) autonomous and highly diverse affiliates.)
 
Eleven members of the Carpenters’ union in Reesor Siding, Northern Ontario are shot, three fatally, by independent local farmer-settlers who were supplying wood to a Spruce Falls Power and Paper Co. plant. Some 400 union members were attempting to block an outbound shipment from the plant. The action came as the company was insisting on a pay freeze and two months of seven-day-a-week work - 1963
 
Forty workers are killed on Staten Island, N.Y., when a huge storage tank filled with liquefied gas explodes - 1973
 
February 11
Five hundred Japanese and 200 Mexican laborers unite to fight the labor contractor responsible for hiring at the American Beet Sugar Co. in Oxnard, Calif. They ultimately win higher wages and the right to shop at stores not owned by the company - 1903
 
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is arrested while leading a protest of conditions in West Virginia mines. She was 83 years old at the time - 1913
 
Fifteen thousand rubber workers strike in Akron, Ohio, protesting speed-up - 1913
 
The Seattle General Strike ends after six days. Some 65,000 workers struck for higher pay after two years of World War I wage controls - 1919
 
“White Shirt Day” at UAW-represented GM plants.  Union members are encouraged to wear white shirts, marking the anniversary of the 1936-1937 Flint sit-down strike that gave the union bargaining rights at the automaker. The mission: send a message that “blue collar” workers deserve the same respect as their management counterparts.  One of the day’s traditional rules: Don’t get your shirt any dirtier than the boss gets his.  The 44-day strike was won in 1937 but the tradition didn’t begin until 1948, at the suggestion of Local 598 member Bert Christenson - 1948
 
Some 1,300 sanitation workers begin what is to become a 64-day strike in Memphis, ultimately winning union recognition and wage increases. The April 4 assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr., who had been taking an active role in mass meetings and street actions, brought pressure on the city to settle the strike - 1968
 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announces he will call out the National Guard, if necessary, to deal with any "unrest" among state employees in the wake of his decision to unilaterally end nearly all collective bargaining rights for the workers - 2011
 
February 12
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass born into slavery near Easton, Md. - 1818
 
John L. Lewis, president of United Mine Workers of America and founding president of the CIO, born near Lucas, Iowa - 1880
 
February 13
A national eight-month strike by the Sons of Vulcan, a union of iron forgers, ends in victory when employers agreed to a wage scale based on the price of iron bars—the first time employers recognized the union, the first union contract in the iron and steel industry, and what may be the first union contract of any kind in the United States - 1865
 
Some 12,000 Hollywood writers returned to work today following a largely successful three-month strike against television and motion picture studios.  They won compensation for their TV and movie work that gets streamed on the Internet - 2008

(Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff is an encyclopedic guide to 350 labor films from around the world, ranging from those you’ve heard of—Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me—to those you’ve never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them. Fiction and nonfiction, the films are about unions, labor history, working-class life, political movements, and the struggle between labor and capital.)
 
February 14
Western Federation of Miners strike for 8-hour day - 1903
 
President Theodore Roosevelt creates the Department of Commerce and Labor. It was divided into two separate government departments ten years later - 1903
 
Jimmy Hoffa born in Brazil, Ind., son of a coal miner. Disappeared July 30, 1975, declared dead seven years later - 1913
 
Striking workers at Detroit’s newspapers, out since the previous July, offer to return to work. The offer is accepted five days later but the newspapers vow to retain some 1,200 scabs. A court ruling the following year ordered as many as 1,100 former strikers reinstated - 1996