Today's Labor History
Click here to check out this week's Labor History Today podcast. On this week’s show: William P. Jones on “The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow South,” plus a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to the AFL-CIO urging the formation of a “Committee on Inquiry Into the Administration of Justice in the Freedom Struggle.” Interviews by Chris Garlock and Alan Wierdak.
The Granite Cutters National Union begins what is to be a successful nationwide strike for the 8-hour day. Also won: union recognition, wage increases, a grievance procedure and a minimum wage scale - 1900
Joseph Curran is born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At age 16 he joined the Merchant Marines and in 1937 went on to lead the formation of the National Maritime Union. He was the union’s founding president and held the post until 1973, when he resigned amidst corruption charges. He died in 1981 - 1906
IWW strikes Portland, Ore., sawmills - 1907
Sailors aboard the S.S. California, docked in San Pedro, Calif., refuse to cast off the lines and allow the ship to sail until their wages are increased and overtime paid. The job action lasts three days before the secretary of labor intervenes and an agreement is reached. The leaders were fined two days’ pay, fired and blacklisted, although charges of mutiny were dropped. The action marked the beginnings of the National Maritime Union - 1936
After five years of labor by 21,000 workers, 112 of whom were killed on the job, the Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam) is completed and turned over to the government. Citizens were so mad at President Herbert Hoover, for whom the dam had been named, that it was later changed to Boulder Dam, being located near Boulder City, Nev. – 1936
CIO president John L. Lewis and U.S. Steel President Myron Taylor sign a landmark contract in which the bitterly anti-union company officially recognized the CIO as sole negotiator for the company's unionized workers. Included: the adoption of overtime pay, the 40-hour work week, and a big pay hike - 1937
The federal minimum wage increases to $1 per hour - 1956
Postal workers granted 8-hour day - 1913
More than 6,000 drivers strike Greyhound Lines (photo above), most lose jobs to strikebreakers after company declares “impasse” in negotiations - 1990
Birth date in Coshocton, Ohio, of William Green, a coal miner who was to succeed Samuel Gompers as president of the American Federation of Labor, serving in the role from 1924 to 1952. He held the post until his death, to be succeeded by George Meany - 1873
The local lumber workers' union in Humboldt County, Calif., founded the Union Labor Hospital Association to establish a hospital for union workers in the county. The hospital became an important community facility that was financed and run by the local labor movement - 1906
Congress approves the Seamen’s Act, providing the merchant marine with rights similar to those gained by factory workers. Action on the law was prompted by the sinking of the Titanic three years earlier. Among other gains: working hours were limited to 56 per week; guaranteed minimum standards of cleanliness and safety were put in place - 1915
The Davis-Bacon Act took effect today. It orders contractors on federally financed or assisted construction projects to pay wage rates equal to those prevailing in local construction trades - 1931
Labor history courtesy Union Communication Services.
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