Today in Labor History – March 30th

labor history march 30

Harry Bridges

Chicago stockyard workers won an 8-hour day. – 1918

30,000 unemployed people marched in New York City. At the time, there was virtually no formal or institutional aid available for the unemployed or poor. Even the AFL did not support unemployment insurance, as it saw itself as the representative of skilled workers only, and could care less about the unskilled and factory workers. Another reason for the lack of government support for the unemployed was that working conditions were so terrible the ruling elite feared that workers would choose the dole over work if given the choice. In New York, police attacked the marchers. – 1930

Construction began on the Hawks Nest Tunnel. 3,000 mostly African-American migrant workers were hired to complete the project. To save time and money, they were not provided with proper safety equipment to work on cutting rock that had been discovered to have a high silica content. The official death toll from silicosis was 476, with estimates as high as 700 to 1,000. It was considered to be one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history. – 1930

The federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act was enacted. – 1970

The United Farm Workers signed the first table grape contract with two growers. – 1970

Harry Bridges, Australian-born dock union leader, died at age 88. He helped form and lead the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for 40 years. A Bridges quote: “The most important word in the language of the working class is ‘solidarity’”. – 1990

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild announced that the membership had voted to merge with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, creating the 150,000-member SAG-AFTRA. – 2012

Harry Bridges on Trial (Classic Reprint)

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