Today in Labor History – December 25th

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A dynamite bomb destroyed a portion of the Llewellyn Iron Works in Los Angeles on this date. On October 1st, a bomb had destroyed much of the Los Angeles Times building, killing 21 employees and injuring over 100. The Iron Workers had been engaged in a brutal and protracted battle with U.S. Steel and the American Bridge Company, which had been successfully busting their union through the use of spies, informants, scabs and agents provocateur, as well as propaganda by their friend Harrison Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times. By 1910, they had nearly succeeded in driving all the unions from their plants, except for the Iron Workers union, which had instigated a bombing campaign starting in 1906. James McNamara and his brother, John McNamara, secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, were arrested for the two crimes in April 1911. However, James had been kidnapped and held hostage for a week by Private Detective William Burns and Chicago police sergeant William Reed prior to his extradition to Los Angeles, while his brother John, who was later arrested by Burns, was denied access to an attorney and illegally extradited to Los Angeles. Both McNamaras had been arrested based on the confession of a third man who had likely been tortured. any in the labor movement felt they were being framed. James McNamara spent the rest of his life in San Quentin, dying there in 1941. John served 15 years and then went on to serve as an organizer for the Iron Workers. – 1910

Fourteen servicemen from military bases across the U.S., led by Private. Andrew Stapp, formed The American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). Click To Tweet The union, which never came close to being recognized by the government, had chapters at bases, on ships, and in Vietnam. The Vietnam war claimed tens of thousands of members. ASU demands included the right to elect officers. – 1967

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