Today in Labor History – March 12th

Lane Kirkland

Lane Kirkland

Greedy industrialist turned benevolent philanthropist Andrew Carnegie pledged $5.2 million for the construction of 65 branch libraries in New York City, barely 1 percent of his net worth at the time. He established more than 2,500 libraries between 1900 and 1919, following years of treating workers in his steel plants brutally, demanding long hours in horrible conditions and fighting their efforts to unionize. Carnegie made $500 million when he sold out to J.P. Morgan, becoming the world’s richest man. – 1901

The IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) won their textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.The Lawrence strike was also known as the Bread and Roses Strike, because the women were demanding not only a living wage so they could feed their families, but a better quality of life, too). This IWW-led strike was the first known strike to implement the moving picket line, so as to avoid arrests for loitering. The strike was also unique in that the workers spoke 22 different languages and came from 24 different nationalities, prompting the IWW to give each language group a delegate on the strike committee and complete autonomy. – 1912

     As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
     For they are women’s children, & we mother them again.
     Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
     Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses

Shingle workers went on strike in Raymond, Washington. – 1912

Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995, was born in Camden, South Carolina. – 1922

Steelworkers approved a settlement with Oregon Steel Mills, Inc. and its CF&I Steel subsidiary, ending the longest labor dispute in the USWA’s history and resulting in more than $100 million in back pay for workers. – 2004 

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