Today in Labor History – February 16th

labor history february 16

Madison Wisconsin Rallies

Leonora O’Reilly was born in New York. The daughter of Irish immigrants, she began working in a factory at age 11, joined the Knights of Labor at 16, and was a volunteer investigator of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. She was a founding member of the Women’s Trade Union League. – 1870

The Diamond Mine disaster occurred in Braidwood, Illinois. The coal mine was on a marshy tract of land with no natural drainage. Snow melted and forced a collapse on the east side of the mine, killing 74. – 1883

In response to a lockout by employers during contract negotiations, the New York City Joint Board of the International Fur Workers Union led by Ben Gold, called for a city-wide strike by all 12,000 furriers in 2,000 shops. The strike lasted 17 weeks into June and ended when a new contract was mediated that established the first guarantee in the country for a 40-hour/five-day workweek and overtime pay. – 1926

In order to prevent operating at a loss during this period, the Harlan County Coal Operators’ Association cut miners’ wages by 10%. Capitalizing on the general unrest created within Harlan’s already-impoverished labor force, the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) attempted to organize the county’s miners. Employees who were known by their bosses to be union members were initially fired and evicted from their company-owned homes. However, before long, most of the remaining workforce had struck out of sympathy. – 1931

United Rubber Workers began sit-down strike at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. – 1936

The American Wire Weavers Protective Association merged with United Papermakers & Paperworkers. – 1959

All public schools in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin were closed as teachers called in sick to protest Governor Scott Walker’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights. – 2011

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