Today in Labor History – May 31st

Rose Will Monroe, Rosie the Riveter
Rose Will Monroe, Rosie the Riveter

The Johnstown Flood occurred on this date.  More than 2,200 died when a dam holding back a private resort lake burst upstream of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The resort was owned by wealthy industrialists including Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick.  Neither they nor any other members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club were found guilty of fault, despite the fact the group had created the lake out of an abandoned reservoir. – 1889

The infamous trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, in which the two Italian anarchists were railroaded for a crime they did not commit, began in Dedham, Massachusetts. Judge Webster Thayer’s anti-worker and anti-immigrant opening remarks set the tone for the trial. – 1921

Some 25,000 white autoworkers walked off the job at a Detroit Packard Motor Car Company plant heavily involved in wartime production, when three black workers were promoted to work on a previously all-white assembly line.  The black workers were relocated and the whites returned. – 1943

Rose Will Monroe, who became known as “Rosie the Riveter” died at the age of 77.  Rose worked at an aircraft parts factory during World War II, and was “discovered” by filmmakers producing a film promoting war bonds.  The song and the iconic poster were already well known and a real-life Rosie who was a riveter “proved too good for the film’s producers to resist,” said Monroe’s daughter. – 1997

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