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March 30, 2015
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Today in Labor History

March 30 

Chicago stockyard workers win 8-hour day - 1918 

At the height of the Great Depression, 35,000 unemployed march in New York’s Union Square. Police beat many demonstrators, injuring 100 - 1930

The federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act is enacted - 1970 

Harry Bridges, Australian-born dock union leader, dies at age 88. He helped form and lead the Int’l Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for 40 years. A Bridges quote: “The most important word in the language of the working class is ‘solidarity’” – 1990

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild announce that the membership has voted to merge with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, creating the 150,000-member SAG-AFTRA - 2012

March 31 

President Martin Van Buren issues a broadly-applicable executive order granting the 10-hour day to all government employees engaged in manual labor - 1840 

(Your Rights in the Workplace, 10th edition: The most substantial "employee rights" reference we’ve found. This book covers concerns of every worker in every state, in plain language and with what-to-do-about-it advice. Unions remain the best protection on the job, but this guide gives solid explanations on the full range of issues and options, and then some. Topics covered include privacy rights, family leave, discrimination and harassment, wages and hours, hiring and firing, safety on the job.)

Cowboys earning $40 per month begin what is to become an unsuccessful two-and-a-half-month strike for higher wages at five ranches in the Texas Panhandle - 1883 

Cesar Chavez born in Yuma, Ariz.- 1927 photo: Chavez, right, with his sister; photo courtesy César E. Chávez Foundation 

Construction begins on the three-mile Hawk’s Nest Tunnel through Gauley Mountain, W. Va., as part of a hydroelectric project.  A congressional hearing years later was to report that 476 laborers in the mostly black, migrant workforce of 3,000 were exposed to silica rock dust in the course of their 10-hour-a-day, six-days-a-week shifts and died of silicosis.  Some researchers say that more than 1,000 died - 1930

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs legislation establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps to help alleviate suffering during the Depression. By the time the program ended after the start of World War II it had provided jobs for more than six million men and boys. The average enrollee gained 11 pounds in his first three months - 1933 

Wisconsin state troopers fail to get scabs across the picket line to break a 76-day Allis-Chalmers strike in Milwaukee led by UAW Local 248. The plant remained closed until the government negotiated a compromise - 1941 

Federal judge Sonia Sotomayor, later to become a Supreme Court justice, issues an injunction against baseball team owners to end a 232-day work stoppage - 1995

— Compiled and edited by David Prosten, Union Communication Services

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