Today in Labor History – November 9th

1872 Boston Fire

1872 Boston Fire

Thirty people, including at least nine firefighters, were killed in Boston’s worst fire. Click To Tweet It started at 7:20 pm in the basement of a commercial warehouse at 83-87 Summer Street. The fire was finally contained 12 hours later, after it had consumed about 65 acres of Boston’s downtown, 776 buildings and much of the financial district, and caused $73.5 million in damage. – 1872

200 assembly-line workers at Nash Motors Company in Kenosha, Wisconsin, walked out in protest of the new piece rates. Owner Charles Nash subsequently locked out all 3,000 workers. Workers at both the Racine and Milwaukee Seaman Body plants eventually joined the strike eventually all winning raises of up to 17% and union recognition at each plant. – 1933

The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was found on this date by eight international unions belonging to the American Federation of Labor. It was originally called the Committee for Industrial Organization but changed its name in 1938 when it broke away from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The CIO supported the New Deal Coalition and was open to African Americans as equal members. Both the CIO and its rival the AFL grew rapidly during the Great Depression. In its statement of purpose, the CIO said it had formed to encourage the AFL to organize workers in mass production industries along industrial union lines. The CIO failed to change the AFL policy from within. On September 10, 1936, the AFT suspended all 10 CIO unions (two more had joined). In 1938, these unions for the Congress of Industrial Organizations as a rival labor federation.  In 1955, the CIO rejoined the AFL, forming the new entity known as the American Federation of Labor-Congress on Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO)- 1935

Philip Murray, the first president of the United Steelworkers Organizing Committee, first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations for 12 years following the death of John L. Lewis, died on this date at age 66 – 1952

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