Today in Labor History for the week of April 21, 2014

April 212014.04.21history-hazel-dickens

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

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

2014.04.21history-stullApril 23

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is founded through a merger of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) and the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL), the two major union congresses in Canada at the time. The CLC represents the interests of more than three million affiliated workers - 1956

Death of Ida Mae Stull, nationally recognized as the country’s first woman coal miner - 1980
(I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions: Although nearly half of union members in the United States are female, little more than one leadership position in five is held by a woman. This report is designed to promote women's activism and leadership within unions across the country at the local, state, regional, and national levels.)

United Farm Workers of America founder Cesar Chavez dies in San Luis, Ariz., at age 66 - 1993

April 242014.04.21history-Mumia-Abu-Jamal

The Int’l Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union halts shipping on the West Coast in solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Philadelphia journalist who many believed was on death row because he was an outspoken African-American - 1999

An eight-story building housing garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapses, killing 1,129 workers and injuring 2,515.  A day earlier cracks had been found in the structure,  but factory officials, who had contracts with Benneton and other major U.S. labels, insisted the workers return to the job the next day - 2013

April 25

The New York Times declares the struggle for an 8-hour workday to be “un-American” and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours “labor disturbances brought about by foreigners.” Other publications declare that an eight-hour workday day would bring about “loafing and gambling, rioting, debauchery and drunkenness” - 1886

2014.04.21history-lexicon-bookcoverIWW Marine Transport Workers begin West Coast strike - 1923
(The Lexicon of Labor: Learn what “IWW” stands for, and many other labor terms in this invaluable resource for all unionists, from rank-and-file activists to newsletter editors and webmasters to union leaders. It offers readable, informative descriptions of more than 500 key terms, places, people and events in American labor history, from explaining who the Wobblies and Knights of Labor were to reporting on the 1997 Teamster strike at UPS. It includes dozens of new terms and developments and introduces a new generation to the labor lexicon.)

The Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and 100 others are arrested while picketing a Charleston, S.C., hospital in a demand for union recognition - 1969

Supreme Court rules that employers may not require female employees to make larger contributions to pension plans in order to obtain the same monthly benefits as men - 1978

April 262014.04.21history-kidstrike-bookcover

The U.S. House of Representatives passes House Joint Resolution No. 184, a constitutional amendment to prohibit the labor of persons under 18 years of age. The Senate approved the measure a few weeks later, but it was never ratified by the states and is still technically pending - 1924
(Kids on Strike!: Not only were people under the age of 18 employed, they occasionally went on strike!  Kids on Strike! tells the story of children who stood up for their rights against powerful company owners. Nearly two million children were in the U.S. workforce by the early 1900s.)

On the orders of President Roosevelt, the U.S. Army seizes the Chicago headquarters of the unionized Montgomery Ward & Co. after management defies the National Labor Relations Board - 1944

2014.04.21history-eisenhowerApril 27

First strike for 10-hour day, by Boston carpenters - 1825

James Oppenheim’s poem “Bread and Roses” published in IWW newspaper Industrial Solidarity - 1946

President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed “sexual perversion” as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants - 1953

A cooling tower for a power plant under construction in Willow Island, West Virginia collapses, killing 51 construction workers in what is thought to be the largest construction accident in U.S. history.  OSHA cited contractors for 20 violations, including failures to field test concrete.  The cases were settled for $85,000—about $1,700 per worker killed - 1978