Today in Labor History – April 15th

labor history april 15

This date marks the birth of A. Philip Randolph, organizer and president of the African-American Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. According to Randolph, “The labor movement traditionally has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, and the poor”. Randolph believed in permanent social change, but not without the direct participation of those affected, including mass demonstrations.  Initially, no African-American newspapers supported his fight to unionize the Pullman porters. – 1889

The IWW union Agricultural Workers Organization formed in Kansas City, Missouri. – 1915

The American Federation of Teachers was founded in Chicago. In its first four years, the union chartered 174 locals. Today, the AFT has more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide and more than 1.6 million members. – 1916

A successful six-day strike began across New England by what has been described as the first women-led American union, the Telephone Operators Department of IBEW. – 1919

Two men robbed and killed Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli in South Braintree, Massachusetts, making off with the $15,776.51 payroll they were carrying. Parmenter and Bernadelli were employees of the Slater & Morrill Shoe Company.,  The anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti ultimately were blamed for the robbery, convicted by a kangaroo court and executed. – 1920

The Transport Workers Union was founded. – 1934

The first McDonald’s Restaurant opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, setting the stage years later for sociologist Amitai Etzioni to coin the term “McJob”.  As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, a McJob is “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector”. – 1955

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