Today's Labor History
Clowns at work: click here to check out the latest Labor History Today podcast. By definition, clowns are not to be taken seriously; their job is to clown around. Mike Funt talks about the work of clowns. Plus: Julie Greene on the Labor and Working-Class History Association, whose conference is coming up May 30-June 1.
After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world” - 1883
Some 2,300 members of the United Rubber Workers, on strike for 10 months against five Bridgestone-Firestone plants, agree to return to work without a contract. They had been fighting demands for 12-hour shifts and wage increases tied to productivity gains - 1995
Thousands of unemployed WWI veterans arrive in Washington, D.C., to demand early payment of a bonus they had been told they would get, but not until 1945. They built a shantytown near the U.S. Capitol but were burned out by U.S. troops after two months - 1932
The AFL-CIO begins what is to become an unsuccessful campaign for a 35-hour workweek, with the goal of reducing unemployment. Earlier tries by organized labor for 32- or 35-hour weeks also failed – 1962
President Donald Trump signs a series of executive orders designed to make it easier to fire federal employees, limit the ability of unions to defend their members, and directing federal agencies to renegotiate federal employee union contracts so as to “reduce waste.” David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees said the actions are “more than union busting – it’s democracy busting.” A federal judge (who had been appointed by Pres. Barack Obama) later struck down key parts of the orders - 2018
Men and women weavers in Pawtucket, R.I., stage nation's first "co-ed" strike - 1824
Some 100,000 steel workers and miners in mines owned by steel companies strike in seven states. The Memorial Day Massacre, in which ten strikers were killed by police at Republic Steel in Chicago, took place four days later, on May 30 - 1937
Ford Motor Co. security guards attack union organizers and supporters attempting to distribute literature outside the plant in Dearborn, Mich., in an event that was to become known as the “Battle of the Overpass.” The guards tried to destroy any photos showing the attack, but some -- like the one shown here -- survived, and inspired the Pulitzer committee to establish a prize for photography – 1937
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