Today in Labor History – March 31st


Cowboys on Strike

President Martin Van Buren issues a broadly-applicable executive order granting the 10 hour day to all government employees engaged in manual labor – 1840

300+ cowboys go on strike at five large ranches in Texas.  The new closed-range cattle ranching industry that became dominant after the Civil War denied cowboys the right to be paid in cattle, start their own herds, or have access to open land.  Ranchers insisted that cowboys work exclusively for wages (which averaged only $40/month), and the cowboys responded by going on strike – 1883

Cesar Chavez born in Yuma, AZ.- 1927 (Celebrate by going to see the movie and support Hollywood doing more movies about Unions and their leaders)

Construction begins on the three-mile Hawk’s Nest Tunnel through Gauley Mountain, W. Va., as part of a hydroelectric project. A congressional hearing years later was to report that 476 laborers in the mostly black, migrant workforce of 3,000 were exposed to silica rock dust in the course of their 10-hour-a-day, six-days-a-week shifts and died of silicosis. Some researchers say that more than 1,000 died – 1930

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt signs legislation establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps, to help alleviate suffering during the Depression. By the time the program ended after the start of World War II it had provided jobs for more than six million men and boys. The average enrollee gained 11 pounds in his first three months – 1933

Wisconsin state troopers fail to get scabs across the picket line to break a 76-day Allis-Chalmers strike in Milwaukee led by UAW Local 248. The plant remained closed until the government negotiated a compromise – 1941


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