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This Week in Labor History - Aug 21 – 27


American Fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the Corporatists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery. “  Vice President Henry Wallace, 1944 warning of American Fascism

Wednesday, Aug 21:

Ongoing violence by coal operators and their paid goons in the southern coalfields of West Virginia led to a 3-hour gun battle between striking miners and guards that left

6 dead. Federal troops were sent in not only to quell the fighting, but to protect profits and ensure that scabs were able to get to and from the mines. A General Strike

was threatened if the troops did not cease their strikebreaking activities. -1920

A strike began against International Harvester by the United Electrical Workers. -1952

Thursday, Aug 22:

5 flight attendants form the Air Line Stewardesses Association, the first labor Union representing flight attendants. They were reacting to an industry in which women were forced to retire at the age of 32, remain single, and adhere to strict weight, height and appearance requirements. The association later became the AFA, now a division of the CWA. -1945

Joyce Miller, Vice President of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers, becomes first female member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.-1980

Friday, Aug 23:

The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After 3 years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies (IWW) to wealthy elite Capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report highly critical of Capitalism. -1912

Founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, the Farm Workers Organizing Committee (to later become United Farm Workers of America) granted a charter by the AFL-CIO. -1966

Saturday, Aug 24:

The Gatling Gun Company, manufacturers of an early machine gun, writes to Railroad President John W. Garrett during a labor strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the striking workers around the country. Says the company: "4 or 5 men only are required to operate a gun, and one Gatling gun can clear a street or block and keep it clear". -1877

Poland: Solidarnosc trade Union movement founded in Gdansk. Their union Solidarity will ultimately bring down Communism in Poland. -1980

Sunday, Aug 25:

Birth of Allan Pinkerton, whose strike-breaking detectives the Pinkertons ("Pinks") gave us the word "fink". In Butte, Montana, during labor strikes children would often "Brick the Pinks" (throw rocks and bricks at the Pinkertons) in defense of their town, their families, and for fun. -1819

President Harry Truman ordered the U.S. Army to seize all the nation’s railroads to prevent a General Strike. The railroads were kept under federal control for 2 years. -1950

Monday, Aug 26:

Fannie Sellins and Joseph Starzeleski are murdered by coal company guards, on a picket line in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. Sellins was a United Mine Workers of America organizer and Starzeleski was a striking miner.  -1919

The Women’s Strike for Equality is staged in cities across the U.S., marking the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, under which women won the right to vote. A key focus of the series of marches and demonstrations was equality in the workplace. -1970

Tuesday, Aug 27:

Filipino lettuce cutters and white packing shed workers (AFL) strike the powerful Salinas Valley growers and shippers, demanding Union recognition and improved conditions. -1934

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington, speakers addressed the original march and the state of civil rights in America to a crowd of 300,000. -1983

This Week in Labor History is compiled by Kevin D. Curtis


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