This week’s Labor History Today podcast: Paul Robeson and the 1948 Library of Congress cafeteria workers’ strike: With 95% of DC’s hotel and restaurant workers out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look back at the history of cafeteria workers’ struggle at the Library of Congress for a union and how singer and activist Paul Robeson supported their 1948 strike. Plus: AFSCME's Lillian Roberts tells how a showdown with NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller over the right of state workers to organize led to her being jailed for two weeks in December, 1968; Mark Bradley, author of Blood Runs Coal, about the brutal 1968 murder of Jock Yablonski and his family by United Mineworkers president Tony Boyle, and how it inspired a surge in union democracy; The Beginning of the End of Apartheid.
Last week’s show: America’s last general strike. photo: mass picket outside the Federal Works Administration during the 1948 cafeteria strike.
General Motors announces it is closing 21 North American plants over the following four years and slashing tens of thousands of jobs - 1991
An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland Co., Penn. kills 239 coal miners. 71 of the dead share a common grave in Olive Branch Cemetery. Dec 1907, was the worst month in US coal mining history, with over 3,000 dead - 1907
A 47-day strike at Greyhound Bus Lines ends with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union accepting a new contract containing deep cuts in wages and benefits. Striker Ray Phillips died during the strike, run over on a picket line by a scab Greyhound trainee - 1983
26 men and 1 woman are killed in the Wilberg Coal Mine Disaster near Orangeville, Utah. The disaster has been termed the worst coal mine fire in the state’s history. Federal mine safety officials issued 34 safety citations after the disaster but had inspected the mine only days before and declared it safe - 1984
Delegates to the AFL convention in Salt Lake City endorse a constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote - 1899.
The first group of 15 Filipino plantation workers recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association arrive in Hawaii. By 1932 more than 100,000 Filipinos will be working in the fields - 1906
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) takes effect today - 1970
Thousands of workers began what was to be a two-day strike of the New York City transit system over retirement, pension and wage issues. The strike violated the state’s Taylor Law; TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint was jailed for ten days and the union was fined $2.5 million - 2005
- David Prosten