Today in Labor History – February 19th


Joseph Caruso, Joseph J. Ettor (center), and Arturo Giovannitti, in handcuffs, awaiting trial for Lawrence Strike


American Federation of Labor issues a charter to its new Railroad Employees Dept. – 1909

A few weeks after workers ask for a 25 cent hourly wage, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit (streetcar) Co. fires 173 union members “for the good of the service” and brings in replacements from New York City. Striker-scab battles and a general strike ensued – 1910

During the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence, MA, 200 police drew their clubs and went after 100 women picketers, knocking them to the ground and beating them. Big Bill Haywood from the IWW urged women not to picket. An Italian woman suggests responded: “All man, boy stay home, sleep. Only woman, girl on picket line tomorrow morning. Soldier & policeman no beat woman, girl. You see, I got big belly, she too got big belly. Policeman no beat us.” However, the next morning, the women were beaten so badly that the Italian woman quoted above and another pregnant striker lost their babies & almost died – 1912

Joe Ettor died on this date. Ettor was an IWW union organizer, who helped spearhead the Lawrence Bread & Roses Strike of 1912. “If the workers of the world want to win, all they have to do is recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as the workers keep their hands in their pockets, the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move, lying absolutely silent, they are more powerful than all the weapons and instruments that the other side has for attack.” – 1948

Journeymen Stonecutters Association of North America merges with Laborers’ International Union – 1968

The U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. – the case establishing that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction – 1975

International Union of Police Associations granted a charter by the AFL-CIO – 1979

Farm Labor Organizing Committee signs agreement with Campbell Soup Co., ending seven-year boycott – 1986

After a 10-month strike, rank-and-file miners at the Pittston Coal Co. ratified a new contract. Ninety-eight miners and a minister occupied a Pittston Coal plant in Carbo, Virginia, inaugurating the year-long strike. While a one month Soviet coal strike dominated the U.S. media, the year-long Pittston strike received almost no media coverage – 1990

1,200 rallied in support of the striking musicians union, forcing the cancellation of the opening night Disney production of “Beauty & the Beast” at 5th Ave. Theater in Seattle, Washington -1997

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