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  • Today in Labor History
    Updated On: Apr 10, 2019

    April 10

    • 1880 — Birth date of Frances Perkins, named Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, becoming the first woman to hold a cabinet-level office.
       
    • 1917 — A total of 133 people, mostly women and girls, are killed when an explosion in the loading room tears apart the Eddystone Ammunition Works in Eddystone, Pa., near Chester. Of the dead, 55 were never identified.
       
    • 1930 — Birth of Dolores Huerta, a co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers.
       
    • 1997 — Dancers from the Lusty Lady Club in San Francisco’s North Beach ratify their first-ever union contract by a vote of 57-15, having won representation by SEIU Local 790 the previous summer. The club, which later became a worker-owned cooperative, closed in 2013.
       
    • 2006 — Tens of thousands of immigrants demonstrate in 100 U.S. cities in a national day of action billed as a campaign for immigrants’ dignity. Some 200,000 gathered in Washington, D.C.
       

    April 11

    • 1941 — Ford Motor Company signs first contract with United Auto Workers.
       
    • 1947 — Jackie Robinson, first Black ballplayer hired by a major league team, plays his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbetts Field.
       
    • 1974 — United Mine Workers President W. A. "Tony" Boyle is found guilty of first-degree murder, for ordering the 1969 assassination of union reformer Joseph A. "Jock" Yablonski.  Yablonski, his wife and daughter were murdered on December 30, 1969. Boyle had defeated Yablonski in the UMW election earlier in the year—an election marred by intimidation and vote fraud. That election was set aside and a later vote was won by reformer Arnold Miller.
       
    • 1980 — Some 34,000 New York City Transit Authority workers, eleven days into a strike for higher wages, end their walkout with agreement on a 9-percent increase in the first year and 8 percent in the second, along with cost-of-living protections.
       
    • 1980 — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issues regulations prohibiting sexual harassment of workers by supervisors in the workplace.
       
    • 1986 — Police in Austin, Minn., tear-gas striking Hormel meatpacking workers. Seventeen strikers are arrested on felony riot charges.
       
    • 1997 — Some 25,000 marchers in Watsonville, Calif., show support for United Farm Workers organizing campaign among strawberry workers, others.
       

    April 12

    • 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.
       
    • 1900 — Birth of Florence Reece, active in Harlan County, Ky., coal strikes and author of famed labor song “Which Side Are You On?”
       
    • 1909 — The Union Label and Service Trades Department is founded by the American Federation of Labor. Its mission: promote the products and services of union members.
       
    • 1912 — Twenty “girl millworkers,” attempting to relieve striking pickets at the Garfield, New Jersey, mill of Forstmann and Huffmann, were beaten “when they did not move fast enough to suit” 30 special deputies who ordered them off the site, according to a news report.
       
    • 1924 — Chris Turner is born in Floyd, Va.  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.
       
    • 1934 — The Toledo (Ohio) Auto-Lite strike begins today 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.

    CLICK HERE to view this week's labor history

    Copyright  © 2019 Union Communication Services—Worker Institute at Cornell ILR, All rights reserved.
    Union Communication Services — The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR


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