What good are unions, anyway? Are dues worth the investment? A recent study showed that wages declined in newly unionized firms -- but most research still says that you're better off in one than not, reported Lydia DePillis in The Washington Post last week. She also recently published a troubling report on “How Live Nation exploits low-wage workers to stage its rock concerts.”
Here's today's labor history:
On this date in 1834, responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Massachusetts organized a strike in protest. The action failed. Two years later they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson.
In 1917, thousands of women marched to New York’s City Hall demanding relief from exorbitant wartime food prices. Inflation had wiped out any wage gains made by workers, leading to a high level of working class protest during World War I.
And in 1990, the United Mine Workers settled the 10-month Pittston strike in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Today's labor quote is by Richard Trumka, president of the Mine Workers during the Pittston strike and now president of the AFL-CIO:
"People keep asking how long we can hold out. The answer: one day longer than Pittston."