Today in Labor History – May 18th

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Karen Silkwood

In what may have been baseball’s first labor strike, the Detroit Tigers refuse to play after team leader Ty Cobb is suspended: he went into the stands and beat a fan who had been heckling him. Cobb was reinstated and the Tigers went back to work after the team manager’s failed attempt to replace the players with a local college team: their pitcher gave up 24 runs – 1912

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen started organizing in packinghouses across the United States, ultimately bringing their membership from 6,500 in 1917 to 100,000 by 1919 – 1917

Big Bill Haywood, a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), dies in exile in the Soviet Union – 1928

Atlanta transit workers, objecting to a new city requirement that they be fingerprinted as part of the employment process, go on strike. They relented and returned to work six months later – 1950

Insurance Agents International Union and Insurance Workers of America merge to become Insurance Workers International Union (later to merge into the UFCW) – 1959

Oklahoma jury finds for the estate of atomic worker Karen Silkwood, orders Kerr-McGee Nuclear Co. to pay $505,000 in actual damages, $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood’s plutonium contamination – 1979

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