Today in Labor History – November 21st

Labor History November 21

Alexander Berkman was born on this date in Vilna, Russia (Lithuania). One-time lover and life-long comrade of Emma Goldman, Berkman wrote Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, after serving time for attempting to murder Henry Clay Frick, architect of the massacre of striking Homestead/Carnegie Steel workers. – 1870

The Columbine Mine massacre, sometimes called the Columbine massacre, occurred in the town of Serene, Colorado. A fight broke out between Colorado state police and groups of IWW striking coal miners, during which the unarmed miners were attacked with firearms. The miners testified that machine guns were fired at them, but the state police disputed that. Six strikers were killed and dozens were injured. – 1927

The 1,700-mile Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway) was completed, built during World War II on the order of President Roosevelt. Some 11,000 troops, about one-third of them African-Americans, worked on the project, which claimed the lives of an estimated 30 men. Memorials for the veterans are scattered in spots throughout the highway, including the Black Veterans Memorial Bridge, dedicated in 1993. It wasn’t until 1948 that the military was desegregated. – 1942

The United Auto Workers Union struck 92 General Motors plants in 50 cities to back up worker demands for a 30 percent raise. 200,000 workers were out. – 1945

Staten Island and Brooklyn were linked by the new Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time and still the longest in the U.S. Joseph Farrell, an apprentice Ironworker on the project, told radio station WNYC: “The way the wind blows over this water it would blow you right off the iron. That was to me and still is the most treacherous part of this business. When the wind grabs you on the open iron, it can be very dangerous.” Three workers died over the course of the five year project. – 1964

A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas killed 85 hotel employees and guests and sent 650 injured persons, including 14 firefighters, to the hospital. Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inhalation. – 1980

Flight attendants celebrated the signing into law of a smoking ban on all U.S. domestic flights. – 1989

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 went into effect. The law prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions and restricts employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information about their employees. It also prohibits discrimination in health coverage based on genetic information. – 2009

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