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January 25, 2015

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This Week in Labor History

Today in Labor History

January 23

Some 10,000 clothing workers strike in Rochester, N.Y., for the 8-hour day, a 10-percent wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held throughout the clothing district and there was at least one instance of mounted police charging the crowd of strikers and arresting 25 picketers. Six people were wounded over the course of the strike and one worker, 18-year-old Ida Breiman, was shot to death by a sweatshop contractor. The strike was called off in April after manufacturers agreed not to discriminate against workers for joining a union – 1913

In Allegany County, MD, workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal era public works program employing unmarried men aged 18-25, are snowbound at Fifteen Mile Creek Camp S-53 when they receive a distress call about a woman in labor who needs to get to a hospital. 20 courageous CCC volunteers dig through miles of snow drifts until the woman is successfully able to be transported - 1936

January 24

Krueger’s Cream Ale, the first canned beer, goes on sale in Richmond, Va. Pabst was the second brewer in the same year to sell beer in cans, which came with opening instructions and the suggestion: "cool before serving" - 1935

January 25

Sojourner Truth addresses first Black Women’s Rights convention - 1851

The Sheet Metal Workers Int'l Association (SMWIA) is founded in Toledo, Ohio, as the Tin, Sheet Iron and Cornice Workers’ Int’l Association - 1888

Two hundred miners are killed in a horrific explosion at the Harwick mine in Cheswick, Pa., Allegheny County. Many of the dead lie entombed in the sealed mine to this day - 1904

(The novel Sixteen Tons carries the reader down into the dark and dangerous coal mines of the early 1900s, as Italian immigrant Antonio Vacca and his sons encounter cave-ins and fires deep below the earth’s surface. Above ground, miners battle gun thugs and corrupt sheriffs at Virden, Matewan and Ludlow in an epic struggle to form a union and make the mines a safer place to work. Historian Kevin Corley’s depiction of miners’ lives is based on his own interviews with mining families.)

The Supreme Court upholds “Yellow Dog” employment contracts, which forbid membership in labor unions. Yellow Dog contracts remained legal until 1932 - 1915

Some 16,000 textile workers strike in Passaic, N.J. – 1926

The federal minimum wage rate rises to 75 cents an hour - 1950

— Compiled and edited by David Prosten, Union Communication Services

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