Today in Labor History – February 1st

79:976 IWW Riot - man speaking to crowd - 1911

Speaking during the San Diego Free Speech fight

The Collar Laundry Union formed in Troy, New York. Led by Kate Mullaney, a National Labor Union activist, the union increased wages for laundresses from $2 to $14 per week – 1864

Gold-Bricking? Bricklayers start working 8-hour days – 1867

IWW free speech fight in San Diego, California was in full swing.  On January 8, a city ordinance was passed preventing public speaking in and around “soapbox row.” It was designed to squelch labor and radical organizing. In addition to the Wobblies, anarchists, socialists and liberals joined the months-long struggle, deliberately violating the ordinance by speaking in the restricted zone so that the jails would be overflowing with civil disobedients. At one point in the struggle, Emma Goldman was forcibly deported from San Diego, and her companion Ben Reitman was tarred, feathered and raped with a broom by vigilantes – 1912

From the July 11, 1912 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook, the first stanza of “We’re Bound For San Diego”:

In that town called San Diego when the workers try to talk,
The cops will smash them with a sap and tell them “take a walk”,
They throw them in a bull pen and they feed them rotten beans,
And they call that “law and order” in that city, so it seems.


25,000 Paterson, NJ silk workers strike for eight-hour work day and improved working conditions. 1,800 were arrested over the course of the six-month walkout, led by the Wobblies. They returned to work on their employers’ terms – 1913

The federal minimum wage increases to $1.60 per hour – 1968

International Brotherhood of Firemen & Oilers merge with Service Employees International Union – 1995


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn addresses a crowd in Patterson, New Jersey in 1913 during the IWW silk strike

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