Today in Labor History – March 22nd

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Mark Twain, who was a lifelong member of the International Typographical Union, gave a speech entitled, “Knights of Labor: The New Dynasty.” In the speech, he commended the Knights’ commitment to fair treatment of all workers, regardless of race or gender. “When all the bricklayers, and all the machinists, and all the miners, and blacksmiths, and printers, and stevedores, and housepainters, and brakemen, and engineers . . . and factory hands, and all the shop girls, and all the sewing machine women, and all the telegraph operators, in a word, all the myriads of toilers in whom is slumbering the reality of that thing which you call Power, …when these rise, call the vast spectacle by any deluding name that will please your ear, but the fact remains that a Nation has risen.” – 1886

The Grand Coulee Dam on Washington state’s Columbia River begins operation after a decade of construction. Eight thousand workers labored on the project; 77 died – 1941

State and local police in Rhode Island use tear gas on some 800 IAM picketers striking the Browne & Sharp machine tool manufacturing company in North Kingstown. Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy later publicly apologized for the actions of police – 1982

A 32-day lockout of major league baseball players ends with an agreement to raise the minimum league salary from $68,000 to $100,000 and to study revenue-sharing between owners and players – 1990

A bitter six and one-half year UAW strike at Caterpillar Inc. ends. The strike and settlement, which included a two-tier wage system and other concessions, deeply divided the union – 1998

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