2015.05.18 history cobb

May 18
In what may have been baseball’s first labor strike, the Detroit Tigers refuse to play after team leader Ty Cobb is suspended: he went into the stands and beat a fan who had been heckling him. Cobb was reinstated and the Tigers went back to work after the team manager’s failed attempt to replace the players with a local college team: their pitcher gave up 24 runs - 1912

Amalgamated Meat Cutters union organizers launch a campaign in the nation’s packinghouses, an effort that was to bring representation to 100,000 workers over the following two years - 1917

Big Bill Haywood, a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), dies in exile in the Soviet Union - 1928

Atlanta transit workers, objecting to a new city requirement that they be fingerprinted as part of the employment process, go on strike. They relented and returned to work six months later - 1950

Insurance Agents Int’l Union and Insurance Workers of America merge to become Insurance Workers Int’l Union (later to merge into the UFCW) - 1959

2015.05.18 history silkwood

Oklahoma jury finds for the estate of atomic worker Karen Silkwood, orders Kerr-McGee Nuclear Co. to pay $505,000 in actual damages, $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood’s plutonium contamination - 1979
(The Killing of Karen Silkwood is an updated edition of the groundbreaking book about the death of union activist Karen Silkwood, an employee of a plutonium processing plant, who was killed in a mysterious car crash on her way to deliver important documents to a newspaper reporter in 1974. Silkwood’s death at age 28 was highly suspicious: she had been working on health and safety issues at the plant, and a lot of people stood to benefit by her death.)

May 19
Two hundred sixteen miners die from an explosion and its aftermath at the Fraterville Mine in Anderson County, Tenn. All but three of Fraterville’s adult males were killed. The mine had a reputation for fair contracts and pay—miners were represented by the United Mine Workers—and was considered safe; methane may have leaked in from a nearby mine - 1902

2015.05.18 history hatfieldShootout in Matewan, W. Va., between striking union miners (led by Police Chief Sid Hatfield) and coal company agents. Ten died, including seven agents - 1920

The Steel Workers Organizing Committee, formed by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, formally becomes the United Steelworkers of America - 1942

A total of 31 dockworkers are killed, 350 workers and others are injured when four barges carrying 467 tons of ammunition blow up at South Amboy, N.J. They were loading mines that had been deemed unsafe by the Army and were being shipped to the Asian market for sale - 1950

May 20
The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers’ rights to form unions - 1926

Some 9,000 rubber workers strike in Akron, Ohio - 1933

May 21
Italian activists and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, widely believed to have been framed for murder, go on trial today. They eventually are executed as part of a government campaign against dissidents - 1921

2015.05.18 history sbc strikers

 

The “Little Wagner Act” is signed in Hawaii, guaranteeing pineapple and sugar workers the right to bargain collectively. After negotiations failed, a successful 79-day strike shut
down 33 of the territory’s 34 plantations and brought higher wages and a 40-hour week - 1945

Nearly 100,000 unionized SBC Communications Inc. workers begin a 4-day strike to protest the local phone giant’s latest contract offer - 2004

May 22
Eugene V. Debs imprisoned in Woodstock, Ill., for role in Pullman strike - 1895
2015.05.18 history debscross(The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene V. Debs: Eugene V. Debs was a labor activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the heart and soul of the nation’s working people. He was brilliant, sincere, compassionate and scrupulously honest. A founder of one of the nation’s first industrial unions, the American Railway Union, he went on to help launch the Industrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies. A man of firm beliefs and dedication, he ran for President of the United States five times under the banner of the Socialist Party, in 1912 earning 6 percent of the popular vote.)

While white locomotive firemen on the Georgia Railroad strike, blacks who are hired as replacements are whipped and stoned—not by the union men, but by white citizens outraged that blacks are being hired over whites. The Engineers union threatens to stop work because their members are being affected by the violence - 1909

Civil Service Retirement Act of 1920 gives federal workers a pension - 1920

President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the goals of his Great Society social reforms: to bring “an end to poverty and racial injustice” in America - 1964

May 23
An estimated 100,000 textile workers, including more than 10,000 children, strike in the Philadelphia area. Among the issues: 60-hour workweeks, including night hours, for the children - 19032015.05.18 history toledo

The Battle of Toledo begins today: a five-day running battle between roughly 6,000 strikers at the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard. Two strikers died and more than 200 were injured. The battle began in the sixth week of what ultimately became a successful two-month fight for union recognition and higher pay. One guardsman told a Toledo Blade reporter: "Our high school graduation is ... tonight and we were supposed to be getting our diplomas” – 1934

U.S. railroad strike starts, later crushed when President Truman threatens to draft strikers - 1946

The Granite Cutters Int’l Association of America merges with Tile, Marble, Terrazzo, Finishers & Shopmen, which five years later merged into the Carpenters - 1983

May 24
After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world” - 1883
2015.05.18 history skilled.hands(Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits 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. Arranged chronologically, Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits is based on archival research in Department, AFL-CIO, and U.S. government records as well as numerous union journals, the local and national press, and interviews with former Department officers.)

Some 2,300 members of the United Rubber Workers, on strike for 10 months against five Bridgestone-Firestone plants, agree to return to work without a contract. They had been fighting demands for 12-hour shifts and wage increases tied to productivity gains - 1995