Today in Labor History – March 18th

labor history march 18

Great Postal Strike

Mexican anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón was arrested under the Espionage Act, charged with hindering the American war effort, and imprisoned at Leavenworth, where he died under highly suspicious circumstances. The authorities claimed he died of a “heart attack”, but Chicano inmates rioted after his death and killed the prison guard they believed killed Magon. – 1918

Police evicted retail clerks occupying New York Woolworths in a fight for the 40-hour week. – 1937

A natural gas explosion in New London, Texas killed over 300 students, teachers and parents in the worst public school disaster in American history. The event led to worldwide sympathy. Even Hitler sent a telegram of condolences. – 1937

This date marked the beginning of the Great Postal Strike in New York City. Postal workers hadn’t seen a raise since 1967. They were banned from collective bargaining and from striking. Nevertheless, in spite of the law and their own union’s attempt to quell the unrest, the postal workers voted to strike, marking the first time in the nearly 200-year history of the Postal Service that postal workers went on strike.President Nixon tried to bust the strike, first by threatening to arrest striking workers and then by sending in federal troops to sort the mail. However, the soldiers were so incompetent at the work that they failed to get the mail moving, compelling Congress to give the striking workers an 8% raise and the right to collectively bargain. – 1970

The Los Angeles City Council passed the first living wage ordinance in California. The ordinance required almost all city contractors to pay a minimum wage of $8.50 an hour, or $7.25 if the employer was contributing at least $1.25 toward health benefits, with annual adjustments for inflation. – 1997

Wal-Mart agreed to pay a record $11 million to settle a civil immigration case for using illegal immigrants to do overnight cleaning at stores in 21 states. – 2005
As the Great Recession continued, President Obama signed a $17.6 billion job-creation measure a day after it was passed by Congress. – 2010

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