Today in Labor History – April 13th

Jimmy Hoffa

The Great Northern rail strike began in Helena, Montana, spreading to St. Paul within a few days. The strike was led by Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, and succeeded in shutting down critical rail links, resulting in a settlement giving in to nearly all of the union’s demands. The successful strike led to thousands of rail workers joining the new union. – 1894

The International Hod Carriers & Building Laborers’ Union (today’s Laborers’ Int’l Union) was founded, as 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities representing 8,186 Laborers, met in Washington DC. – 1903

Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I.  While in jail he ran for president and received one million votes. – 1919

A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa led his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Indiana in a successful job action. By refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands. The “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32¢ an hour only if growers arrived with berries to unload. Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger. – 1930

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