Today in Labor History – January 1st

Adolph Strasser

Women weavers form union, Fall River, Mass – 1875

John L. Lewis is elected president of the United Mine Workers. Fifteen years later he is to be a leader in the formation of what was to become the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) – 1920

With the Great Depression in full force, the year 1932 opens with 14 million unemployed, national income down by 50%, breadlines that include former shopkeepers, businessmen and middle-class housewives. Charity is overwhelmed: only one-quarter of America’s unemployed are receiving any help at all – 1932

Workers begin to acquire credits toward Social Security pension benefits. Employers and employees became subject to a tax of one percent of wages on up to $3,000 a year – 1937

Adolph Strasser, head of the Cigar Maker’s Union and one of the founders of the AFL in 1886, died on this day in Forest Park, Ill. – 1939

Country music legend Hank Williams attends what was to be his final Musician’s union meeting, at the Elite Café in Montgomery, Ala. He died of apparent heart failure three days later, at age 29 – 1953

35,000 members of the Transport Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union shut down 135 miles of subway and 2,200 buses in New York City, bringing huge losses to business and, consequently, a quick resolution, with a settlement being reached on January 13.. Fiery TWU leader Mike Quill, jailed for several days during the strike, then hospitalized, died three days after his release from the hospital – 1966

The Federal minimum wage rises to $2.65 an hour – 1978

International Typographical Union, nation’s oldest union, merges with Communications Workers of America – 1987

United Furniture Workers of America merges with Int’l Union of Electronic, Electrical, Technical, Salaried & Machine Workers to become International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine & Furniture Workers, now a division of CWA – 1987

National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians merges with Communications Workers of America – 1994

International Union of Allied & Industrial Workers of America merges with United Paperworkers International. Later merged into the Steelworkers – 1994

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) takes effect, over objections of labor – 1994

Mechanics Educational Society of America merges with United Automobile Workers – 1997

Bakery, Confectionery & Tobacco Workers Int’l Union merges with American Federation of Grain Millers to form Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Int’l Union – 1999

Michael Quill

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