This Week in Labor History 025

Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez

Labor History 025 Script

"The working class owes all honor and respect to the first men who planted the standard of labor solidarity on the hostile frontier of unorganized industry."

Quotation by Ralph Chaplin, writer, artist, IWW activist, author of the labor anthem Solidarity Forever.

I’m Kevin Cook, and This Week in Labor History:

Wednesday, Aug 7

On this day in 1919, Actors Equity was recognized by producers after stagehands honored their picket lines, shutting down almost every professional stage production in the country. Before unionizing, it was common practice for actors to pay for their own costumes, rehearse long hours without pay, and be fired without notice.

675,000 employees struck AT&T over wages, job security, pension plan changes and better health insurance on this day in 1983. It was the last time the CWA negotiated at one table for all its Bell System members. The strike was won after 22 days.

Thursday, Aug 8

A strike began at Cripple Creek, Colorado on this day in 1903. William "Big Bill" Haywood's Western Federation of Miners (founded in Butte, MT) called for a sympathy strike among the underground miners to support a smelter workers' strike for an 8-hour day and less deadly working conditions.

Labor legend Cesar Chavez was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on this day in 1994, becoming the first Mexican-American ever to receive the honor.

Friday, Aug 9

In 1890, the Knights of Labor went on strike at the New York Central railroad. They were ultimately defeated by scabbing.

53 civilian repairmen were killed at a Titan missile silo near Searcy, Arkansas on this day in 1965. A high pressure hydraulic line was cut with a torch, causing a deadly fire.

Saturday, Aug 10

Carlo Tresca, IWW organizer and leading opponent of both fascism and communism, was arrested in America on this day in 1923. The charge: that he had printed an article attacking the Italian monarchy and the fascists. No such crime, of course, is known to American law, but Tresca was nevertheless arrested.

Labor History 025 Script

On this day in 2010, President Barack Obama signed a bill to protect 300,000 teachers, police and other public employees from layoffs spurred by budgetary crises in states hard-hit by Bush’s Great Recession. The pro-jobs bill saved hundreds of thousands of workers from the unemployment line.

Sunday, Aug 11

Monday, Aug 12

The national Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners was founded in Chicago in a gathering of 36 carpenters from 11 cities on this day in 1881.

Teamsters official William Grami was kidnapped, bound, and beaten by anti-union capitalists in Sebastopol, California on this day in 1955. He was leading a drive to organize apple plant workers in the area.

Tuesday, Aug 13

Striking miners at Tracy City, Tennessee captured their mines and freed 300 state convict strikebreakers on this day in 1892. The convicts had been "leased" to mine owners by officials, in an effort to make prisons self-supporting and make a few bucks for the state. The practice started in 1866 and lasted for 30 years.

In 1936, Newspaper Guild members began a 3-month strike of the Hearst-owned Seattle Post- Intelligencer, shutting the publication down in their successful fight for union recognition.

This Week in Labor History is compiled by Kevin D. Curtis. For KBMF, I’m Kevin Cook.

United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez began a hunger strike to protest union harassment on this day in 1970.

Maine lobster fishers formed a local of the Machinists Union as they faced a 40-year low price for their catches, and other issues, on this day in 2013. By October, the New York Times reported it had 600 members working together to save their trade.