Today in Labor History – February 2nd

iris rivera

Iris Rivera

Sixteen thousand silk workers in Paterson, NJ strike for shorter work week with no cut in pay – 1913

Iris Rivera, a Chicago legal secretary, lost her job because she refused to make coffee for her employer. Her rationale: “(1) I don’t drink coffee, (2) it’s not listed as one of my job duties, and (3) ordering the secretaries to fix the coffee is taking the role of homemaker too far.” Although she was not rehired, her case resulted in a large-scale protest by Chicago secretaries and generated considerable network news coverage. The activist group Women Employed presented Rivera’s boss with a “coffee demerit badge”: a bag of soggy coffee grounds. – 1977

The 170-day lockout (although management called it a strike) of 22,000 steelworkers by USX Corp. ends with a pay cut but greater job security. It was the longest work stoppage in the history of the U.S. steel industry – 1987

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