Today in Labor History – April 3rd

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Pietro Botto, socialist mayor of Haledon, N.J., invited the Paterson silk mill strikers to assemble in front of his house. 20,000 showed up to hear speakers from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Upton Sinclair, John Reed and others, who urged them to remain strong in their fight.  The Patterson strike lasted from Feb. 1 until July 28, 1913. Workers were fighting for the eight-hour workday and better working conditions. Over 1800 workers were arrested during the strike, including IWW leaders Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Five were killed. Overall, the strike was poorly organized and confined to Paterson. The IWW, the main organizer of the strike, eventually gave up – 1913

UAW Local 833 strikes the  bathroom fixtures company in Kohler, Wisc. The strike ends six years later after Kohler is found guilty of refusing to bargain, agrees to reinstate 1,400 strikers and pay them $4.5 million in back pay and pension credits – 1954

Martin Luther King Jr. returns to Memphis to stand with striking AFSCME sanitation workers. This evening, he delivers his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in a church packed with union members and others. He is assassinated the following day – 1968

 

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