Today in Labor History – April 13th

Debs 4 Prez

The Great Northern rail strike began in Helena, Montana, spreading to St. Paul within a few days. The strike was led by Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, and succeeded in shutting down critical rail links, resulting in a settlement giving in to nearly all of the union’s demands. The successful strike led to thousands of rail workers joining the new union.

International Hod Carriers & Building Laborers’ Union (today’s Laborers’ Int’l Union) is founded, as 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities — representing 8,186 Laborers — meet in Washington DC – 1903

Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs is imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I.  While in jail he ran for president, received 1 million votes – 1919

A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa leads his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Indiana, in a successful job action: by refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands. Among other things: the “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32¢ an hour—only if growers arrived with berries to unload. Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger – 1930

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