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City Desk

This Week in Labor History (March 3 – 9):


"I consider it important, indeed urgently necessary for workers to get together, both to protect their own economic status and also, generally speaking, to secure their influence in the political field." -Albert Einstein, Physicist, War Refugee, Charter Member AFT Local 552


Wednesday, March 3:

IWW Free-Speech Fights, Colorado City. The IWW contributed considerably to our civil liberties by having hundreds of members violate “free speech” bans across the west. By stepping on a soapbox and reading the U.S. Constitution aloud in public they would be arrested one after another and pack the jails then sing lusty Wobbly songs day and night and end up costing the cities so much money that they'd be released and the “Free Speech” bans would be lifted for all.  -1905

The local Lumber Workers' Union in Humboldt County, Calif., founded the Union Labor Hospital Association to establish a hospital for Union workers in the county.  In the absence of any “free market” healthcare solution the hospital became an important community facility that was financed and run by the local Labor Movement. -1906

Thursday, March 4:

In his inaugural address, President Thomas Jefferson declares his support for Labor and unions: “Take not from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” -1801

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) won the Free Speech Fights in Spokane, Washington. The IWW’s free speech campaign began in late 1908 and spread across the west helping to insure our rights guaranteed under the Constitution would not be ripped away by the Capitalists. -1910

The UAW won their sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan. The strike at the Fisher Body Plant Number One lasted 40 days and was the longest sit-down strike in history. 5,000 armed workers circled the plant to protect the workers inside. Following police attacks with tear-gas, workers fought back with fire hoses. 13 workers were injured by police gunfire. By the time the National Guard arrived, sympathy strikes had spread to GM plants across the country. -1937

Friday, March 5:

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) go on trial, Everett, Washington. The labor organizers had been gunned down by a government sanctioned mob (sheriff-led vigilantes). Like most cases of labor strife, the government, big business, police, military and the media are actively aligned against the Unionists: the criminals and perpetrators go free while the victims are vilified and tried. -1917

Caterpillar declares strike impasse. -1992

Saturday, March 6:

The federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act is enacted. This government regulation would go on to save  the lives of countless miners, greedy Capitalists fought it because they believe profits should come before the lives of people. -1970

Predominantly young workers at a Lordstown, Ohio, GM assembly plant stage a wildcat strike, largely in objection to the grueling work pace: at 101.6 cars per hour, their assembly line was believed to be the fastest in the world. -1972

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the nation’s unemployment rate soared to 8.1 percent in February 2009, the highest since late 1983 (the Reagan years), as big business slashed 651,000 jobs to protect and increase short term profits amid the deepening Great (Bush) Recession. (By 2016 Pres. Obama had slashed the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent) -2009

Sunday, March 7:

Hollywood writers represented by the Writers Guild of America strike against 200 television and movie studios over residual payments and creative rights. The successful strike lasted 150 days, one of the longest in industry history. -1988

Musicians strike. Broadway musicals and shows go dark when actors and stagehands honor union picket lines. The strike was resolved after 4 days. -2003

Monday, March 8:

Thousands of workers in the New York needle trades (mostly women) demonstrated and launched a strike for higher wages, shorter workdays and an end to child labor. Their struggle became the basis for International Women's Day. -1908

Members of the Fur and Leather Workers Union, mostly women, went on strike in New York. Despite beatings by police, the strikers fought on, winning a 10 percent raise and 5-day work week. -1926

Tuesday, March 9:

IWW organizer Carlo Tresca was born on this date. Tresca was an outspoken opponent of both Fascism and Communism. He was one of the main organizers of the Patterson Silk Strike. Tresca was assassinated by pro-big business Fascists. -1879

Frank Little and other IWW free-speech fighters were released from jail in Fresno, California (IWW Free Speech Fights). The IWW “Free Speech Fights” forced the Government to honor everyone's right to free speech across the west including Montana. 6 years later Little was tortured and murdered by mine owners in Butte Montana while organizing Union miners and speaking against war. His headstone reads; "Slain by Capitalist Interests for Organizing and Inspiring His Fellow Men." -1911

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



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