This week in labor history

August 8, 2018

“The worst Fascists are they who disown the word ‘Fascism’ and preach enslavement to Capitalism.”

 -Sinclair Lewis,  It Can’t Happen Here (1935) 


Wednesday, Aug 15:

President Richard M. Nixon announces a 90-day freeze on wages, prices and rents in an attempt to combat inflation that was caused by Conservative economic policies. -1971

Gerry Horgan, chief steward of CWA Local 1103 and NYNEX striker in Valhalla, N.Y., is murdered when he is purposely run over while on the picket line by a car driven by the daughter of a plant manager, he dies the following day. What was to become a 4-month strike over the lack of sufficient healthcare benefits was in its second week. -1989


Thursday, Aug 16:

Congress passes the National Apprenticeship Act, establishing the National Registered Apprenticeship system. The Act established a national advisory committee to research and draft regulations to establish minimum standards for apprenticeship program. The Act was later amended to allow the Department of Labor to issue regulations protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of apprentices, and to encourage the use of contracts in hiring and employing them. -1937

Juan de la Cruz, a 60-year-old United Farm Workers (UFW) member, is shot and murdered by a strike breaker during the UFW’s second grape boycott. 2 days earlier UFW organizer and strike captain Nagi Daifullah had been beaten to death. The UFW was fighting for better wages and less deadly working conditions. -1973


Friday, Aug 17:

Women strikers broke through police lines and demolished a New York garment factory that tried to open in defiance of the strike. Garment workers were toiling as much as 15 hours per day for as little as 50 cents. They tossed sewing machines out the windows and smashed furniture. The industry-wide strike had begun in June and quickly spread, with 60,000 striking up and down the east coast. In September, the strike leads to an agreement that finally improves working conditions and wages. -1910

95 Wobblies (IWW - Industrial Workers of the World) were sent to prison for 20 years for publicly speaking for peace and against the U.S. entering World War One. -1918

Saturday, Aug 18:

Radio station WEVD, named for Eugene V. Debs, goes on the air in New York City, operated by The Forward Association as a memorial to the Legendary American Labor Leader and American Socialist. -1927

Founding of the American Federation of Government Employees, following a decision by the National Federation of Federal Employees (later to become part of the Int’l Association of Machinists) to leave the AFL. -1932


Sunday, Aug 19:

First edition of IWW Little Red Song Book published. Using nonviolent civil disobedience and the songs from the book, the IWW sang their way out of overflowing jails and won free speech for all of Montana and across the west. Like your free speech?...thank a Wobblie. -1909

Butte, Montana: Second longest miner’s strike will last 181 days. -1959


Monday, Aug 20: 

Sentences were handed down on this date against The Haymarket Martyrs who were labor activists and advocates for the 8-hour work day. All were found guilty despite their obvious innocence. None were even present at the scene of the bombing at Haymarket Square during a rally for the 8-hour day. 7 of the 8 defendants (George Engel, Samuel Fielden, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg, Albert Parsons, Michael Schwab and August Spies) were condemned to death. Oscar Neebe was sent to prison for 15 years. The hangings occurred on November 11, 1887. -1886

Butte, Montana: An office for the Parrot Mine was dynamited on this date. In March 1912, Amalgamated Copper fired 500 miners, accusing them of being “Socialists”. In December they imposed a blacklist to exclude workers with affiliations to “leftist “, Unions and labor organizations. Pinkerton and Thiel detective agencies infiltrated the Union, mark agitators and provoke violence to weaken the Union in order to protect high company profits, low wages and deadly working conditions. -1914


Tuesday, Aug 21:

Ongoing violence by coal operators and their paid goons in the southern coalfields of West Virginia led to a 3-hour gun battle between striking miners and guards that left 6 dead. Federal troops were sent in not only to quell the fighting, but to protect profits and ensure that scabs were able to get to and from the mines. A General Strike was threatened if the troops did not cease their strikebreaking activities. -1920

A strike began against International Harvester by the United Electrical Workers. -1952


This Week in Labor History is compiled by Kevin D. Curtis 




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