Today in Labor History – May 15th


New Jersey became the first state to prohibit employment discrimination against union members – 1894 

U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Samuel Gompers and other union leaders for supporting a boycott at the Buck Stove and Range Co. in St. Louis, where workers were striking for a nine-hour day. A lower court had forbidden the boycott and sentenced the unionists to prison for refusing to obey the judge’s anti-boycott injunction – 1906

The Library Employees’ Union is founded in New York City, the first union of public library workers in the United States. A major focus of the union was the inferior status of women library workers and their low salaries – 1917

The first labor bank opens in Washington, D.C., launched by officers of the Machinists. The Locomotive Engineers opened a bank in Cleveland later that year – 1920

IWW song writer T-Bone Slim, died in New York City. T-Bone wrote such Wobbly classics as “The Mysteries of a Hobo’s Life,” “The Popular Wobbly,” and “The Lumberjack’s Prayer. (From The Unionist and “Rebel Voices,” edited by Joyce L. Kornbluh) – 1942

Classic T-Bone Quotes:

  • “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”
  • Tear Gas: The most effective agent used by employers to persuade their employees that the interests of capital and labour are identical.”


Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathon Kwitney uncovered the true face of American labor bosses: AFL-CIO President George Meany, Secretary-Treasurer Lane Kirkland and other union officials were among the 60 leading stockholders in the 15,000 acre Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic, benefiting handsomely when the Dominican president sent troops to forcibly evict impoverished tobacco farmers and fishermen who had lived there for generations – 1973


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