Today in Labor History – February 19th

Miners during the 1989 Pittston Strike

Pittston Strike

The American Federation of Labor issued a charter to its new Railroad Employees Department. – 1909

A few weeks after workers asked for a 25 cent hourly wage, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit (streetcar) Company fired 173 union members “for the good of the service” and brought in replacements from New York City. Striker-scab battles and a general strike ensued. – 1910

During the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 200 police drew their clubs and went after 100 women picketers, knocking them to the ground and beating them. Big Bill Haywood from the IWW urged women not to picket. An Italian woman suggested: “All man, boy stay home, sleep. Only woman, girl on picket line tomorrow morning. Soldier and policeman no beat woman, girl. You see, I got big belly, she too got big belly. Policeman no beat us”. However, the next morning the women were beaten so badly that the Italian woman quoted above and another pregnant striker lost their babies and almost died. – 1912

Joe Ettor died on this date. Ettor was an IWW union organizer, who helped spearhead the Lawrence Bread & Roses Strike of 1912. “If the workers of the world want to win, all they have to do is recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as the workers keep their hands in their pockets, the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move, lying absolutely silent, they are more powerful than all the weapons and instruments that the other side has for attack.” – 1948

The Journeymen Stonecutters Association of North America merged with the Laborers’ International Union. – 1968

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. The case established that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction. – 1975

The International Union of Police Associations was granted a charter by the AFL-CIO. – 1979

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee signed an agreement with Campbell Soup Company, ending a seven-year boycott. – 1986

After a 10-month strike, rank-and-file miners at the Pittston Coal Company ratified a new contract. Ninety-eight miners and a minister occupied a Pittston Coal plant in Carbo, Virginia inaugurating the year-long strike. While a one-month Soviet coal strike dominated the U.S. media, the year-long Pittston strike received almost no media coverage. – 1990

1,200 rallied in support of the striking American Federation of Musicians local 76-493, forcing the cancellation of the opening night Disney production of “Beauty & the Beast” at  the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, Washington. -1997

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