July 21
Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers "a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread." - 18772014.07.21history-wcfl

Compressed air explosion kills 20 workers constructing railroad tunnel under the Hudson River - 1880

IWW leads a strike at Hodgeman's Blueberry Farm in Grand Junction, Mich. - 1964

Radio station WCFL, owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor, takes to the airwaves with two hours of music. The first and only labor-owned radio station in the country, WCFL was sold in 1979 - 1926

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich., is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human - 1984

2014.07.21history-first-contactJuly 22
Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, 6-day week, and a board of arbitration – 1886
(From First Contact to First Contract: A Union Organizer’s Handbook is a no-nonsense tool from veteran labor organizer and educator Bill Barry. He looks to his own vast experience to document and help organizers through all the stages of a unionization campaign, from how to get it off the ground to how to bring it home with a signed contract and a strong bargaining unit.)

A bomb was is set off during a "Preparedness Day" parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Tom Mooney, a labor organizer, and Warren Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted of the crime, but both were pardoned 23 years later - 1916

July 23
Anarchist Alexand2014.07.21history-berkmaner Berkman shoots and stabs but fails to kill steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in an effort to avenge the Homestead massacre 18 days earlier, in which nine strikers were killed. Berkman also tried to use what was, in effect, a suicide bomb, but it didn't detonate - 1892

Northern Michigan copper miners strike for union recognition, higher wages and 8-hour day. By the time they threw in the towel the following April, 1,100 had been arrested on various charges and Western Federation of Miners President Charles Moyer had been shot, beaten and forced out of town - 1913

Aluminum Workers Int'l Union merges with The United Brick & Clay Workers of America to form Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers - 1981

July 24
The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), later to be joined by several smaller unions. The ALA's agenda included support of the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam. It disbanded after four years following the death of UAW President Walter Reuther - 1968
2014.07.21history-dignity(All Labor Has Dignity: People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform.)

The U.S. minimum wage increases to $6.55 per hour today. The original minimum, set in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, was 25¢ per hour - 2008

U.S. minimum wage rises to $7.25 per hour, up from $6.55 - 2009

July 25
Workers stage a general strike—believed to be the nation’s first—in St. Louis, in support of striking railroad workers. The successful strike was ended when some 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 deputized special police killed at least eighteen people in skirmishes around the city - 1877

New York garment workers win closed shop and firing of scabs after 7-month strike – 18902014.07.21history-strike
(Reviving the Strike: How Working People can Regain Power and Transform America: If the American labor movement is to rise again, the author says, it will not be as a result of electing Democrats, the passage of legislation, or improved methods of union organizing. Rather, workers will need to rediscover the power of the strike. Not the ineffectual strike of today, where employees meekly sit on picket lines waiting for scabs to take their jobs, but the type of strike capable of grinding industries to a halt—the kind employed up until the 1960s.)

Fifteen “living dead women” testify before the Illinois Industrial Commission.  They were “Radium Girls,” women who died prematurely after working at clock and watch factories, where they were told to wet small paintbrushes in their mouths so they could dip them in radium to paint dials.  A Geiger counter passed over graves in a cemetery near Ottawa, Illinois still registers the presence of radium - 1937

The Teamsters and Service Employees unions break from the AFL-CIO during the federation's 50th convention to begin the Change to Win coalition, ultimately comprised of seven unions (4 by 2011: SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW and the UFW). They say they want more emphasis on organizing and less on electoral politics - 2005

2014.07.21history-battle-viaductJuly 26
In Chicago, 30 workers are killed by federal troops, more than 100 wounded at the "Battle of the Viaduct" during the Great Railroad Strike - 1877

President Grover Cleveland appoints a United States Strike Committee to investigate the causes of the Pullman strike and the subsequent strike by the American Railway Union. Later that year the commission issues its report, absolving the strikers and blaming Pullman and the railroads for the conflict - 1894

Battle of Mucklow, W.Va., in coal strike. An estimated 100,000 shots were fired; 12 miners and four guards were killed - 1912

President Truman issues Executive Order 9981, directing equality of opportunity in armed forces - 1948

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect today. It requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to qualified disabled employees and bans discrimination against such workers - 1992

July 27
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, died - 1869