Labor History in 2:00
November 20 The Scab

November 20 The Scab

November 20, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1816. That was the day the Albany Typographical Society used the term “scab” to describe a strikebreaker. The word scab had been used in England for nearly three centuries as a slang meaning a rascal or scoundrel. By the late 1700s, laborers began to use the insult to refer to workmen who wouldn't join a union or a strike.  

November 19 Joe Hill’s Final Words

November 19 Joe Hill’s Final Words

November 19, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1915.  On that sad day, Industrial Workers of the World organizer and songwriter, Swedish-born Joe Hill, was executed in Utah. In 1914, Hill was framed for the murder of a grocer and his son in Salt Lake City.  The evidence was circumstantial at best. 

 

November 18 Atlanta GM Workers Lead the GM Sit Down Strikes

November 18 Atlanta GM Workers Lead the GM Sit Down Strikes

November 18, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1936. That was the day workers at the General Motors plant in Atlanta, Georgia participated in a sit-down strike. This was part of a wave of labor organizing during the 1930s. Other GM plants in Kansas City, Mo. and Cleveland, Ohio went on strike.

 

November 17 The Anti-Communist Witch Hunt

November 17 The Anti-Communist Witch Hunt

November 17, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1947. That was the day that the Screen Actors Guild voted to make all SAG members take an anti-Communist loyalty oath. The late 1940s were the dawn of the US Cold War with the Soviet Union. Anti-Communist hysteria swept the country. 

November 16 Using the Law to Crush Organizing

November 16 Using the Law to Crush Organizing

November 16, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1798. On that day Kentucky became the first state to nullify an act of the United States Congress. The federal government had passed the Alien and Sedition Acts during the presidency of John Adams.  

November 15 Founding of the A.F. of L.

November 15 Founding of the A.F. of L.

November 15, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1881. That was the day that trade unionists held the founding convention of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions in Pittsburgh. This group later changed its name to the American Federation of Labor. During the 1880's it grew to replace the Knights of Labor as the most powerful labor union organization in the United States. 

 

November 14 Founding of the National Women’s Trade Union League

November 14 Founding of the National Women’s Trade Union League

November 14, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1903. Working women from around the nation founded the National Women’s Trade Union League in Boston. The organizations founders included female reformers, working class women, as well as women from wealthy families.  

November 13 Cherry Mine Disaster

November 13 Cherry Mine Disaster

November 13, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1909. On this tragic day, 259 coal miners died in a mine in Cherry, Illinois. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad opened the mine in 1905 to supply coal for their trains. Most of the miners were immigrants, primarily Italian. Many could not speak English.  

November 12 The Misery of Chainsaw Al

November 12 The Misery of Chainsaw Al

November 12, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1996. That was the day that “Chainsaw”  Al Dunlap lived up to his nickname. Under his leadership, the Board of the Sunbeam Corporation agreed to eliminate half of the company's 6,000 employees and 87% of its products.  Dunlap had built a reputation for ruthlessly restructuring companies. His policy of implementing sweeping layoffs and plant closures earned him the nickname “Chainsaw Al.”  

November 11 Silencing the Power of Workers

November 11 Silencing the Power of Workers

November 11, 2015

On this day in Labor History the year was 1887. That was a tragic day for the labor movement. Four men were hung in Chicago for their alleged role in the bombing at a labor rally at the city’s Haymarket Square a year earlier.  In a sensational trial a total of eight men were convicted for Haymarket.

 

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