Today in Labor History – January 12th


Novelist Jack London was born on this day. His classic definition of a scab (someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker’s job): “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles”. – 1876

Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson ordered police to raid an open-air mass meeting of shipyard workers in an attempt to prevent a general strike. Click To TweetWorkers were brutally beaten. The strike began the following month, with 60,000 workers walking out in solidarity with some 25,000 metal tradesmen. – 1919

Twelve thousand marchers from Father Cox’s Shantytown in Pittsburgh arrived in Washington, D.C. The shantytown, near St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, lasted from 1929 to 1932, and was the staging base for the Reverend James Cox’s unemployed army. On December 1931, 60,000 unemployed workers had rallied at Pitt Stadium in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. – 1932

President Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board to mediate labor disputes during World War II. Despite the fact that 12 million of the nation’s workers were women, and rose to 18 million by war’s end, the panel consisted entirely of men. – 1942

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