Here’s today’s labor history:
On this date in 1858, a group of "puddlers"—craftsmen who manipulated pig iron to create steel—met in a Pittsburgh bar and formed The Iron City Forge of the Sons of Vulcan. It was the strongest union in the U.S. in the 1870s, later merging with two other unions to form what was to be the forerunner of the United Steel Workers.
In 1900, Florence Reece was born. Reece was active in coal strikes in Harlan County, Kentucky and wrote the famous labor anthem “Which Side Are You On?” when her father was out on strike when she was twelve years old.
In 1924, Chris Turner was born in Floyd, Virginia. He went on to become a NASCAR driver and attempted, along with Fireball Roberts and Tim Flock, to organize the other drivers into a union in 1961 in the hope of better purses, a share in broadcasting rights and retirement benefits for the drivers. He was banned by NASCAR and was unsuccessful when he sued for reinstatement. The court said he was an individual contractor, not an employee of NASCAR or any track.
And on this date in 1934, the Toledo Ohio Auto-Lite strike began with 6,000 workers demanding union recognition and higher pay. The strike is notable for a 5-day running battle in late May between the strikers and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard. Known as the "Battle of Toledo," the clash left two strikers dead and more than 200 injured. The 2-month strike, a win for the workers’ union, is regarded by many labor historians as one of the nation’s three most important strikes.
Today’s labor quote is by Florence Reece
“Come all of you good workers, Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union Has come in here to dwell.
Which side are you on, Tell me, which side are you on?”