Today in Labor History – June 16th

Eugene Debs

Eight local unions organized the International Fur Workers Union of US and Canada. The union later merged with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen. – 1913

Eugene Debs delivered his famous Canton, Ohio anti-war speech. America was at war with Germany at the time, and radicals were being routinely rounded up and jailed, often illegally, when Debs gave this speech. The new Espionage Act was being used to prosecute people for their opposition to the war and Deb’s speech was used to make the case that he had violated the Act. – 1918

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which recognized the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively through unions. The legislation was later found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. However, it helped inspire a wave of union organizing and paved the way for the National Labor Relations Act, which was passed in 1935. – 1933

Jack Hall of the ILWU and six others (the “Hawai‘i Seven”) were convicted under the Smith Act for being communists. – 1953

National computer dealer Inacom Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, ceased operations, and sent its employees an email instructing them to call a toll-free number for important news. The news was a recorded message announcing that over 5,000 employees would be laid off. – 2000

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