Today in Labor History – May 18th

Karen Silkwood

Karen Silkwood

In what may have been baseball’s first labor strike, the Detroit Tigers refuse to play after team leader Ty Cobb was suspended after he went into the stands and beat a fan who had been heckling him. Cobb was reinstated and the Tigers went back to work after the team manager’s failed attempt to replace the players with a local college team whose pitcher gave up 24 runs. – 1912

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen started organizing in packing houses across the United States, ultimately bringing their membership from 6,500 in 1917 to 100,000 by Big Bill Haywood, a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), died in exile in the Soviet Union. – 1928

Atlanta transit workers, objecting to a new city requirement that they be fingerprinted as part of the employment process, went on strike. They relented and returned to work six months later. – 1950

Insurance Agents International Union and Insurance Workers of America merged to become Insurance Workers International Union (later to merge into the UFCW). – 1959

An Oklahoma jury found for the estate of atomic worker Karen Silkwood and ordered Kerr-McGee Nuclear Company to pay $505,000 in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood’s plutonium contamination. – 1979

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