Today in Labor History March 20, 2020

R.B. Grover shoe factory

Michigan authorized the formation of workers’ cooperatives. Thirteen were formed in the state over a 25-year period. Labor reform organizations advocated for  “cooperation” over “competitive” capitalism following the Civil War and several thousand cooperatives opened for business across the country during this era. Participants envisioned a world free from conflict where workers would receive the full value of their labor and freely exercise democratic citizenship in the political and economic realms. – 1865

Michigan authorized workers' cooperatives, 58 die in the collapse of the R.B. Grover shoe factory, 156-day strike ends at Westinghouse Electric Corp and more. Click To Tweet

The R.B. Grover shoe factory in Brockton, Massachusetts, collapsed and burst into flames after its old boiler exploded and shot up through three floors and the roof. 58 people were killed and 150 were injured. The incident led to the passage of a national boiler safety code. – 1905

The American Federation of Labor issued a charter to a new Building Trades Department. Trades unions had formed a Structural Building Trades Alliance several years earlier to work out jurisdictional conflicts, but lacked the power to enforce Alliance rulings. – 1908

Detroit police evicted strikers from the Newton Packing Company. Three hours later, 150 police attacked sit-down strikers at a tobacco plant. By April 1, there were over 120,000 striking auto workers in Michigan. – 1937

Members of the International Union of Electrical Workers reached agreement with Westinghouse Electric Corp., ending a 156-day strike. – 1956

Three hundred family farmers at a National Pork Producers Council meeting in Iowa protested factory-style hog farms. – 1997

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