Today in Labor History – April 12


Florence Reese


A group of “puddlers” — craftsmen who manipulated pig iron to create steel — met in a Pitsburgh bar and formed TheIron City Forge of the Sons of Vulcan. It was the strongest union in the U.S. in the 1870s, later merging with two other unions to form what was to be the forerunner of the United Steel Workers – 1858

Birth of Florence Reece, active in Harlan County, Ky. coal strikes and author of famed labor song “Which Side Are You On?” – 1900

The Union Label and Service Trades Department is founded by the American Federation of Labor. Its mission: promote the products and services of union members – 1909

Twenty “girl millworkers,” attempting to relieve striking pickets at the Garfield, New Jersey, mill of Forstmann and Huffmann, were beaten “when they did not move fast enough to suit” 30 special deputies who ordered them off the site, according to a news report – 1912

Chris Turner is born in Floyd, Va. He went on to become a NASCAR driver and attempted, along with Fireball Roberts and Tim Flock, to organize the other drivers into a union in 1961 in the hope of better purses, a share in broadcasting rights and retirement benefits for the drivers. He was banned by NASCAR and was unsuccessful when he sued for reinstatement. The court said he was an individual contractor, not an employee of NASCAR or any track – 1924

The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, upheld the Wagner Act in a series of decisions involving five separate cases. The most significant was probably the case involving Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., in which Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote the majority decision approving the Wagner Act as falling under the Congress’ constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. The Wagner Act, also known as the National Labor Relations Act, created the structure for collective bargaining in the United States – 1937

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