Today in Labor History February 27, 2020

Labor History February 27th
Eugene V Debs

Legendary labor leader and socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs became a charter member and secretary of the Vigo Lodge, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. Five years later he was leading the national union and in 1893 helped found the nation’s first industrial union, the American Railway Union. – 1875 John Steinbeck was born on this … Read more

Today in Labor History February 26, 2020

The Buffalo Creek Valley Dam Collapse

Congress okayed the Contract Labor Law, designed to clamp down on “business agents” who contracted abroad for immigrant labor. One of the reasons unions supported the measure: employers were using foreign workers to fight against the growing U.S. labor movement, primarily by deploying immigrant labor to break strikes. – 1885 Bethlehem Steelworkers struck for union … Read more

Today in Labor History February 25, 2020

Edgar Daniel (“E.D.”) Nixon

The Paterson, New Jersey silk strike began, with 25,000 immigrant textile workers walking out when mill owners doubled the size of the looms without increasing staffing or wages. The strike was organized by the Industrial Workers of the World but collapsed when mill owners exploited divisions between skilled and unskilled workers, successfully getting the skilled … Read more

Today in Labor History February 24, 2020

Labor History February 24th
Lawrence Massachusetts Strike

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Muller v. Oregon to uphold the state’s restrictions on the working hours of women, setting a precedent to use sex differences, and in particular women’s childbearing capacity,  as a basis for separate legislation.  A laundry owner was fined $10 for making a female employee work more than 10 hours … Read more

Today in Labor History February 23, 2020

Labor History February 23rd
Woody Guthrie

19-year-old Irish immigrant Kate Mullany led members of the Collar Laundry Union, the first all-female union in the United States, in a successful strike in Troy, New York. The union asked for increased wages and improved working conditions. Women working in commercial laundries spent 12 to 14 hours a day ironing and washing detachable collars … Read more

Today in Labor History February 21, 2020

Oakland Unified School District on Strike

Oregon passed the first legislation in the country to officially recognize the “workingman’s holiday” Labor Day. By 1894, 30 other states had adopted the holiday and on June of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September each year a federal holiday. – 1887 The Transportation-Communication Employees Union merged with the … Read more

Today in Labor History February 20, 2020

Frederick Douglass

Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Massachusetts organized a “turn-out” (a strike), in protest. The action failed. Two years later they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of … Read more

Today in Labor History February 19, 2020

Labor History February 19th
Miners during the 1989 Pittston Strike

The American Federation of Labor issued a charter to its new Railroad Employees Department. – 1909 A few weeks after workers asked for a 25 cent hourly wage, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit (streetcar) Company fired 173 union members “for the good of the service” and brought in replacements from New York City. Striker-scab battles and … Read more

Today in Labor History February 18, 2020

Peter J. McGuire

One of the first American labor newspapers, The Man, was published in New York City. It cost one cent and according to The History of American Journalism, “died an early death”.  Another labor paper, the N.Y. Daily Sentinel, had been launched four years earlier. – 1834 Labor leader Peter J. McGuire died on this day. McGuire co-founded … Read more