Today in Labor History – June 11th

John L Lewis

Representatives from the AFL, Knights of Labor, populists, railroad brotherhoods and other trade unions held a unity conference in St. Louis but failed to overcome their differences. – 1894

Cops shot black and white IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) members and AFL maritime workers who were striking against United Fruit company in New Orleans, killing one and wounding two. – 1913

The first 40-hour work week in the U.S. was won by New York fur workers. – 1926

Labor leader John L. Lewis died on this date.  Born in Cleveland, Iowa in 1880 to Welsh immigrant parents, Lewis went to work as a miner when he was a teenager.  He worked as a mine workers’ organizer for the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and went on to serve the president of the United Mine Workers of America for 40 years.  A firm believer in industrial unionism, Lewis formed the predecessor organization to what would become the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). – 1969

A labor dispute at the Chrysler Truck Facility erupted into a spontaneous wildcat strike lasting from June 11 through June 14. Two Dodge Truck strikers wrote, “[we wanted] to free ourselves from the tyranny of the workplace; stop being forced to sell our labor to others; stop others from having control over our lives.” – 1974

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