Today in Labor History – August 23rd

Labor History August 23rd

Folk and protest singer Malvina Reynolds was born on this day in San Francisco, California. Reynolds was denied a diploma by the city’s elite Lowell High School because her parents were opposed to US participation in World War I. She was perhaps best known for her satire of suburbia, “Little Boxes” which was most likely inspired by the tacky sprawl of houses in Daly City, just outside of San Francisco. – 1900

IWW strikers boarded a streetcar in McKees Rock, Pennsylvania looking for scabs. A deputy sheriff shot at them and was killed in the return fire. A gun battle ensued that killed 11 people. – 1909

The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations was formed by Congress during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years of hearing witnesses, including Clarence Darrow, Louis Brandeis, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Theodore Schroeder, William “Big Bill” Haywood, scores of ordinary workers, and the icons of capitalism, including Daniel Guggenheim, George Walbridge Perkins, Sr. (of U.S. Steel), Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie, the Commission issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism.The New York Herald characterized the Commission’s president, Frank P. Walsh, as “a Mother Jones in trousers”. – 1912

Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world. – 1927

Vigilantes assaulted 200 migrant workers in Yakima, Washington. – 1933

Seven merchant seamen crewing the SS Baton Rouge Victory lost their lives en route to Saigon when the ship was sunk by Viet Cong action. A limpet mine had been placed on the 8,500 ton freighter’s hull, ripping through its belly. The explosive had been positioned by a swimmer and the detonated electronically by someone crouching on the riverbank. – 1966

The Farm Workers Organizing Committee (later the United Farm Workers of America) was granted a charter by the AFL-CIO. – 1966

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