Today in Labor History – October 26th

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Begun in 1817, the Erie Canal – linking Lake Erie on the west to the Hudson River on the east – is completed.  The canal was dug from Albany to Buffalo, 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide.  Local laborers and Irish immigrants were primarily employed to build the canal, paid 80 cents per day for 10-12 hours of work; estimates are that over 1,000 workers died during the construction. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop that “so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick” – 1825

President Truman raised the federal minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents – 1949

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