Today in Labor History – March 1st

labor history march 1

Hoover Dam

The Granite Cutters National Union began what was to be a successful nationwide strike for the 8-hour day. Also won: union recognition, wage increases, a grievance procedure and a minimum wage scale. – 1900

Joseph Curran was born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At age 16 he joined the Merchant Marines and in 1937 went on to lead the formation of the National Maritime Union. He was the union’s founding president and held the post until 1973, when he resigned amidst corruption charges. He died in 1981. – 1906

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) struck sawmills in Portland, Oregon. – 1907

After five years of labor by 21,000 workers, 112 of whom were killed on the job, the Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam) was completed and turned over to the government. Citizens were so mad at President Herbert Hoover, for whom the dam had been named, that it was later changed to Boulder Dam, being located near Boulder City, Nevada. – 1936

The crew of the passenger ship SS California launched a sit-down strike for better wages and working conditions. When the ship was due to depart from California, the crew refused to cast off or leave the ship. Joseph Curran (also born on this day in 1906) led the strike and went on to help found the National Maritime Union the following year, serving as its first president. – 1936

CIO president John L. Lewis and U.S. Steel President Myron Taylor signed a landmark contract in which the bitterly anti-union company officially recognized the CIO as sole negotiator for the company’s unionized workers. Included: the adoption of overtime pay, the 40-hour work week, and a big pay hike. – 1937

The federal minimum wage increased to $1.00 per hour. – 1956

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century

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