Legendary labor leader and socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs becomes charter member and secretary of the Vigo Lodge, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. Five years later he is leading the national union and in 1893
helps found the nation’s first industrial union, the American Railway Union - 1875
Birth of John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif. Steinbeck is best known for writing The Grapes of Wrath, which exposed the mistreatment of migrant farm workers during the Depression and led to some reforms - 1902
Thirty-eight miners die in a coal mine explosion in Boissevain, Va. - 1932
Four hundred fifty Woolworth’s workers and customers occupy store for eight days in support of Waiters and Waitresses Union, Detroit - 1937
The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal - 1939
Mine disaster kills 75 at Red Lodge, Mont. - 1943
Labor history courtesy Union Communication Services.