Today in Labor History – September 22nd

The Great Steel Strike

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863 and freed slaves in states that were then in rebellion. – 1862

Eighteen-year-old Hannah (Annie) Shapiro and 16 other young women abandoned their sewing machines and walked out of Shop No. 5 at 18th and Halsted Streets of Hart, Schaffner & Marx, then the largest clothing manufacturer in the nation. All the women wanted were improved working condition and better wages. In initiating a strike that would last for four months and eventually involve some 40,000 workers, the group sent reverberations throughout the garment industry and laid the groundwork for the formation of a second major union in the industry. – 1910

The Great Steel Strike began. Almost 400,000 steelworkers in 50 cities struck to protest intolerable working conditions. Union leaders believed that if they could organize the steel workers, it would lead to a massive wave of unionization across the country. Thus began the Great Steel Strike of 1919. The bosses called upon the federal troops and crushed the strike after 3½ months, killing twenty-two people in the process. – 1919

Martial law was rescinded in Mingo County, West Virginia after police, U.S. troops and hired goons finally quelled the coal miners’ strike. – 1922

U.S. Steel announced it would cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent. – 1931

The United Textile Workers (UTW) strike committee ordered strikers back to work, bringing to an end “the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor”. However, the southern employers continued to try to bust the textile unions and their ongoing agitation occurring along the Eastern seaboard. 10,000 National Guardsmen were mobilized in Georgia and the Carolinas, Alabama, and Mississippi, with an additional army of 15,000 armed deputies. Despite the overwhelming show of force, it is estimated that 421,000 textile workers had joined the strike, an increase of 20,000 new strikers in just one week. In response, martial law was declared in Georgia and the National Guardsmen started to arrest and jail large numbers of strikers without charge, holding them in World War I concentration camps. 13 strikers were killed and 34 strike leaders were held incommunicado. – 1934

Some 400,000 soft, bituminous coal miners went on strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio. – 1935

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) expelled the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) for racketeering.  The AFL created the International Brotherhood of Longshoremen (IBL-AFL) to replace the troubled  ILA. The union was later readmitted to the then-AFL-CIO six years later. – 1953

Eleven Domino’s employees in Pensacola, Florida formed the nation’s first union of pizza delivery drivers, the American Union of Pizza Delivery Drivers. – 2006

San Francisco hotel workers ended a 2-year contract fight, ratifying a new 5-year pact with their employers. – 2006

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