Today in Labor History – February 26th

labor history february 26

Buffalo Creek Valley Dam Collapse

Congress okayed the Contract Labor Law, designed to clamp down on “business agents” who contracted abroad for immigrant labor. One of the reasons unions supported the measure: employers were using foreign workers to fight against the growing U.S. labor movement, primarily by deploying immigrant labor to break strikes. – 1885

Bethlehem Steel workers struck for union recognition in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. – 1941

A coal slag heap doubling as a dam in West Virginia’s Buffalo Creek Valley collapsed, flooding the 17-mile long valley. 118 died, 5,000 were left homeless. The Pittston Coal Company said it was “an act of God.” – 1972

The UFCW and employers reached an agreement to end the nearly five-month-long grocery strike and lockout of 59,000 workers in Southern California. The strike was fueled by management’s demand to strip workers of their healthcare benefits. The new two-tier contract required employees to pay for healthcare benefits for the first time, included no raises, and paid new hires less and put them in a different healthcare plan. – 2004

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