Today in Labor History – March 28th

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Members of Gas House Workers’ Union Local 18799 begin what is to become a four-month recognition strike against the Laclede Gas Light Co. in St. Louis. The union later said the strike was the first ever against a public utility in the U.S. – 1935

Martin Luther King led a march of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. Police attacked the workers with mace and sticks. A 16-year old boy was shot. 280 workers were arrested. He was assassinated a few days later after speaking to the striking workers. The sanitation workers were mostly black. They worked for starvation wages under plantation like conditions, generally under racist white bosses.Workers could be fired for being one minute late or for talking back and they got no breaks. Organizing escalated in the early 1960s and reached its peak in February, 1968, when two workers were crushed to death in the back of a garbage truck. – 1968

 

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