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December 21, 2014

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This Week in Labor History

This Week in Labor History

December 19

An explosion in the Darr Mine in Westmoreland Co., Pa., kills 239 coal miners. Seventy-one of the dead share a common grave in Olive Branch Cemetery. December 1907 was the worst month in U.S. coal mining history, with more than 3,000 dead - 1907

A 47-day strike at Greyhound Bus Lines ends with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union accepting a new contract containing deep cuts in wages and benefits. Striker Ray Phillips died during the strike, run over on a picket line by a scab Greyhound trainee - 1983

Twenty-six men and one woman are killed in the Wilberg Coal Mine Disaster near Orangeville, Utah. The disaster has been termed the worst coal mine fire in the state’s history. Federal mine safety officials issued 34 safety citations after the disaster but had inspected the mine only days before and declared it safe - 1984

(Inventory of American Labor Landmarks: This attractive booklet offers a nice selection from the Labor Heritage Foundation’s comprehensive, ongoing inventory of labor landmarks across the country. Nearly 200 monuments, plaques and other markers are described here, from 33 states and the District of Columbia, accompanied by historical summaries and, often, by photographs.)

December 20

Delegates to the AFL convention in Salt Lake City endorse a constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote - 1899

The first group of 15 Filipino plantation workers recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association arrive in Hawaii. By 1932 more than 100,000 Filipinos will be working in the fields - 1906

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) takes effect today - 1970

Thousands of workers began what was to be a 2-day strike of the New York City transit system over retirement, pension and wage issues. The strike violated the state’s Taylor Law; TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint was jailed for ten days and the union was fined $2.5 million - 2005

December 21

Powered by children seven to 12 years old working dawn to dusk, Samuel Slater’s thread-spinning factory goes into production in Pawtucket, R.I., launching the Industrial Revolution in America. By 1830, 55 percent of the mill workers in the state were youngsters, many working for less than $1 per week - 1790

Supreme Court rules that picketing is unconstitutional. Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft declared that picketing was, in part, "an unlawful annoyance and hurtful nuisance..." - 1921

— Compiled and edited by David Prosten, Union Communication Services

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