Today in Labor History – January 4th

Mike Quill

Mike Quill

The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) was founded on this date in Dublin. Many of the founding members came from the socialist movement or from the IWW. – 1909

At the height of the Great Depression, a U.S. Senate subcommittee considered providing unemployment relief after hearing speakers describe people living in the street, starving, and foraging through garbage dumps for scraps. One speaker, the director of the Children’s Bureau of Philadelphia told the committee, “They do not die quickly. You can starve for a long time without dying.” – 1932

Angered by increasing farm foreclosures, members of Iowa’s Farmers Holiday Association threatened to lynch banking representatives and law officials who instituted foreclosure proceeding for the duration of the Depression. In April, 600 farmers battled the sheriff and his deputies to prevent a foreclosure. A group of farmers dragged a district judge from his chair, put a rope around his neck, and threatened to hang him unless he promised not to issue any more eviction notices. That same month, state officers in Crawford County were beaten, prompting the Iowa governor to declare martial law in three counties and send in the National Guard. – 1933

The United Steel workers ended a strike that had begun on July 15, 1959. – 1960

Eight thousand social workers represented by two different unions in New York City went on strike over workload and wages. Mayor Robert Wagner fired all of the strikers and threw nineteen leaders in jail for two weeks, but the workers won the strike within a month. Supported by organized labor, the civil rights movement and a community coalition, it was the longest labor action by public employees in the history of New York City. – 1965

Legendary Transport Workers Union leader Mike Quill and other TWU leaders were jailed for violating an anti-strike court injunction in a 4-day-old New York City transit walkout involving 35,000 members. Quill suffered a heart attack and would die at the victory celebration. A settlement was reached January 13th. – 1966

The United Paperworkers International Union merged with the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union to form the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union, itself later to merge with the Steelworkers. – 1999

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