Here's today's labor history:
On this date in 1903, five hundred Japanese and 200 Mexican laborers united to fight the labor contractor responsible for hiring at the American Beet Sugar Co. in Oxnard, California. They ultimately won higher wages and the right to shop at stores not owned by the company.
In 1913, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was arrested while leading a protest of conditions in West Virginia mines. She was 83 years old at the time.
In 1948, the first “White Shirt Day” was held at UAW-represented GM plants. Union members were encouraged to wear white shirts, marking the anniversary of the 1936-1937 Flint sit-down strike that gave the union bargaining rights at the automaker. The mission was to send a message that “blue collar” workers deserve the same respect as their white-collar management counterparts.
On this date in 1968, some 1,300 sanitation workers began what was to become a 64-day strike in Memphis, ultimately winning union recognition and wage increases. The April 4 assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr., who had been taking an active role in mass meetings and street actions, brought pressure on the city to settle the strike.
In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that he would call out the National Guard, if necessary, to deal with any "unrest" among state employees in the wake of his decision to unilaterally end nearly all collective bargaining rights for the workers. In 2015 he formed an exploratory committee to run for president.
Today's labor quote is by Bayard Rustin:
"When labor speaks of free medical care, it is saying we need it for blacks who do not have it and whites who are concerned that they will have to pay for giving it to them. When labor calls for full employment, it is talking about blacks who are without jobs and whites who want to protect the ones they have. When labor says we must build more homes, it is seeking to create a society where the black brother need not be enraged because he does not have a home and the white need not fear for the home he has."