Today in Labor History – February 1st

labor history February 1

San Diego Free Speech Fight

The Collar Laundry Union formed in Troy, New York. Led by Kate Mullaney, a National Labor Union activist, the union increased wages for laundresses from $2 to $14 per week. – 1864

Gold-Bricking? Bricklayers started working 8-hour days on this date. – 1867

The IWW free speech fight was in full swing in San Diego, California.  On January 8, a city ordinance was passed preventing public speaking in and around “soapbox row”. It was designed to squelch labor and radical organizing. In addition to the Wobblies, anarchists, socialists and liberals joined the months-long struggle, deliberately violating the ordinance by speaking in the restricted zone so that the jails would be overflowing with civil disobeyers. At one point in the struggle, Emma Goldman was forcibly deported from San Diego, and her companion Ben Reitman was tarred, feathered and raped with a broom by vigilantes. – 1912

From the July 11, 1912 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook, the first stanza of “We’re Bound For San Diego”:

In that town called San Diego when the workers try to talk,
The cops will smash them with a sap and tell them “take a walk”,
They throw them in a bull pen and they feed them rotten beans,
And they call that “law and order” in that city, so it seems.

25,000 Paterson, NJ silk workers struck for an eight-hour work day and improved working conditions. 1,800 were arrested over the course of the six-month walkout led by the Wobblies. They returned to work on their employer’s terms. – 1913

Timber workers went on strike over an increased workweek from 44 hours to 48. – 1929

The federal minimum wage increased to $1.60 per hour. – 1968

The International Brotherhood of Firemen & Oilers merged with the Service Employees International Union. – 1995

The Wobblies: The Story of the IWW and Syndicalism in the United States

Price: $16.21

4.2 out of 5 stars (5 customer reviews)

70 used & new available from $6.52

Leave a Reply