Today in Labor History – March 22nd

labor history march 22

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, gave a speech entitled, Knights of Labor: The New Dynasty. In the speech, he commended the Knights’ commitment to fair treatment of all workers, regardless of race or gender. “When all the bricklayers, and all the machinists, and all the miners, and blacksmiths, and printers, and stevedores, and house painters, and brakemen, and engineers . . . and factory hands, and all the shop girls, and all the sewing machine women, and all the telegraph operators, in a word, all the myriads of toilers in whom is slumbering the reality of that thing which you call Power, …when these rise, call the vast spectacle by any deluding name that will please your ear, but the fact remains that a Nation has risen.” Clemens was a lifelong member of the International Typographical Union (now part of the Communications Workers of America). – 1886

The Grand Coulee Dam on Washington state’s Columbia River began operation after a decade of construction. Eight thousand workers labored on the project; 77 died. – 1941

State and local police in Rhode Island used tear gas on some 800 IAM picketers striking the Browne & Sharp machine tool manufacturing company in North Kingstown. Governor J. Joseph Garrahy later publicly apologized for the actions of police. – 1982

A 32-day lockout of major league baseball players ended with an agreement to raise the minimum league salary from $68,000 to $100,000 and to study revenue-sharing between owners and players. – 1990

A bitter six-and-a-half year UAW strike at Caterpillar Inc. ended. The strike and settlement, which included a two-tier wage system and other concessions, deeply divided the union. – 1998

Grand Coulee Dam (Images of America: Washington)

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