Today in Labor History – April 14th

More than 100 Mexican and Filipino farm workers were arrested for union activities in Imperial Valley, California. Eight were convicted of “criminal syndicalism”. – 1930 John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath is published. It was the story of a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers who migrate to California looking for relief from the … Read more

Today in Labor History – April 13th

The Great Northern rail strike began in Helena, Montana, spreading to St. Paul within a few days. The strike was led by Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, and succeeded in shutting down critical rail links, resulting in a settlement giving in to nearly all of the union’s demands. The successful strike … Read more

Today in Labor History – April 10th

This was the birth date of Frances Perkins, the “Saint of Labor Day”, named Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, becoming the first woman to hold a cabinet-level office. – 1880 133 people, mostly women and girls, were killed when an explosion in the loading room tore apart the Eddystone Ammunition … Read more

Today in Labor History – April 9th

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Bunting v. Oregon, upholding Oregon’s 1913 state law that prescribed a ten-hour workday for both men and women and the state’s requirement that businesses in the state pay time-and-a-half for overtime up to three hours a day. The case was one of the first that upheld wage regulations … Read more

Today in Labor History – April 8th

The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, banning chattel slavery, but allowing a continuation of wage slavery and the forced labor of convicts without pay. – 1864 128 convict miners, mostly African-Americans jailed for minor offenses, were killed by a massive explosion at the near Birmingham, Alabama. While the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, which … Read more

Today in Labor History – April 7th

Prohibition ended, allowing unions to once again freely organize workers in the bars and workers to once again drink freely. As Oscar Wilde said, “Work is the curse of the drinking class”. – 1933 National Labor Relations Board attorney Melton Boyd told ILWU members to “lie down like good dogs” in  Juneau, Alaska. – 1947 … Read more

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