Today in Labor History – August 28th

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Big Bill Haywood and 14 other members of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) were sentenced to 20 years prison for draft obstruction. – 1918

West Virginia Governor Cornwell requested federal troops to guard the mines and protect scab labor during a strike by miners, resulting in rioting. – 1920

A Filipino Labor Union led a strike of 6,000 California lettuce workers demanding 40-45 cents an hour, union recognition and better working conditions. Striking white farm workers split from the Filipinos and accepted arbitration. The growers accused the Filipinos of being communists, while the highway patrol and armed vigilantes drove striking farmworkers off the farms. In September, vigilantes burned a camp of striking workers down to the ground. Police then raided their union headquarters in Salinas, arresting scores of strikers and their leaders. Despite the violence and police abuse, the strikers held out, eventually winning union recognition and 40 cents an hour wages. – 1933

Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march was organized by A. Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who built an alliance of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations that came together under the banner of “Jobs and Freedom”. Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 to 300,000. Observers estimated that 75-80% of the marchers were black. – 1963

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