Today in Labor History – May 16th


1,600 woodworkers in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, went on strike at seven sash and door manufacturers for better pay and union recognition – 1898

Minneapolis general strike backs Teamsters, who are striking most of the city’s trucking companies – 1934

The U.S. Supreme Court issued the Mackay decision permitting employers to permanently replace striking workers. In a classic case of double speak, the court said that management could not fire strikers, but could “permanently replace” them. One of the most recent and well-known examples of this occurred when Reagan crushed the air traffic controllers’ strike. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that allows bosses to fire (er, replace) striking workers – 1938

Black labor leader and peace activist A. Philip Randolph dies. He was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and first black on the AFL-CIO executive board, and a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington – 1979

Baristas at the Starbucks in East Grand Rapids announced their membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. Starbucks, notorious for poor treatment of workers, followed with numerous anti-labor violations and was forced by the NLRB to settle Grand Rapids union worker complaints in October – 2007

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