Today in Labor History – September 27th

Wreck of the Old 97

Wreck of the Old 97

Textile workers struck in Fall River, Massachusetts, demanding bread for their starving children. Approximately one in six children between the ages of 10 and 15 was working during the second half of the 19th century, primarily in textile mills, print shops, coal mines and factories. –  1875

The International Typographical Union (ITU) renewed a strike against the Los Angeles Times and began a boycott that ran intermittently from 1896 to 1908. A local anti-Times committee in 1903 persuaded William Randolph Hearst to start a rival paper, the Los Angeles Examiner. Although the ITU kept up the fight into the 1920s, the Times remained totally nonunion until 2009, when the GCIU—now the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters—organized the pressroom. – 1893

The Old 97, a Southern Railway train officially known as the Fast Mail, derailed near Danville, Virginia while en route to Spence, North Carolina. Click To Tweet Excessive speed, in an attempt to maintain schedules, was the most likely cause. The train derailed at the Stillhouse Trestle, where the train careened off the side of the bridge, killing Engineer Joseph “Steve” Broady, ten other railroad and postal workers, and injuring seven others. The Wreck of the Old 97 inspired balladeers; a 1924 recording is sometimes cited as the first million-selling country music record. – 1903

The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) began a strike against New York shirtwaist factories.  The strike primarily involved Jewish women. It was led by Clara Lemlich and supported by the national Women’s Trade Union League of America (NWTUL). This would become the “Uprising of the 20,000”, resulting in 339 of 352 struck firms (not including the Triangle Factory), signing agreements with the union. The Triangle Factory fire that killed 246 would occur less than two years later. – 1909

The Pacific Maritime Association, representing shipping and stevedoring employers, closed all 29 ports on the West Coast during a contract dispute with the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. The lockout, which lasted 11 days, was the first major work stoppage on western docks since the 1971 longshore workers’ strike that closed the ports for several months. Work resumed in October 2002 after President George W. Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act and obtained a court order opening the ports. Negotiations would continue for another six weeks before an agreement was reached on a new contract that gave dock workers hefty benefit and pay increases and union jurisdiction over additional waterfront positions while allowing employers to utilize labor-saving technologies for cargo tracking. – 2002

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