Today in Labor History – April 16th

Texas City explosion
Texas City explosion

Jacob Coxey was born on this date in Massillon, Ohio. Coxey, a populist businessman, proposed ending the 1893 depression by issuing Treasury notes to pay for a work-relief program. When Congress refused to pass his bill, Coxey led an “Army of the Poor” from Ohio to Washington, DC, where Coxey and his lieutenants were arrested and 50 of his followers were beaten or trampled. – 1854

25,000 garment workers in New York City were locked out by employers in a dispute over hiring practices. A General Strike was called by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union that ended in 14 weeks, with the 60,000 striking workers winning union recognition and the contractual right to strike. – 1916

2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate on board a ship docked in the port of Texas City detonated, setting off a chain reaction of explosions and fires on other ships and nearby oil storage facilities. At least 581 people were killed and thousands more were seriously injured in the deadliest industrial disaster in U.S. history. As a result, changes in chemical manufacturing and new regulations for the bagging, handling, and shipping of chemicals were enacted. – 1947

Thousands protested in Washington, D.C. at meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund One against policies that aided corporate profits while increasing poverty and environmental degradation. – 2000

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