Today in labor history, October 19, 1993: Air France freight and other workers go on strike when the company announces plans to cut 4,000 jobs and reduce bonuses. The strike not only forced the government to change its mind about the layoffs, but also led to the ouster of the airline’s chairman.
Today in labor history, October 14, 1817: Founder of the Norwegian labor movement Marcus Thrane is born. In 1848, Thrane began to organize local workingmen’s associations and two years later, the organizations presented the government with their demands. Fearing a revolution, Thrane and 132 other leaders were arrested. Thrane was convicted of sedition in 1851 and spent four years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, before emigrating to the United States.
Today in labor history, October 12, 1933: Following a campaign by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union to organize in Los Angeles’ garment industry whose workforce is 75% Latina, 4,000 garment workers in Los Angeles walk off the job, demanding union recognition, a 35-hour work week, and the minimum wage. The strike ended on November 6 with the workers winning some of their demands.
Today in labor history, October 11, 1941: 1700 news dealers in New York go on strike against the World Telegram over the price of newspapers, delivery charges, and the return of unsold newspapers. The strike spread as other publishers refused to make deliveries to dealers who joined the strike. A judge issued an injunction against the strike, ruling that the news dealers were not employees.
Today in labor history, October 7, 1933: Detroit printer, labor organizer, and anarchist, Joseph “Jo” Labadie, dies. Around 1910, Labadie began to prepare for the preservation of the vast collection of pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts, and ephemera he had acquired over his lifetime. The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor acquired the collection and continues to preserve and add to it. Today, the Joseph A. Labadie Collection is the oldest publicly-accessible collection of radical history in the world.
Today in labor history, October 5, 1945: On what became known as “Hollywood Black Friday,” a six-month strike by set decorators boils over at the gates of Warner Brothers’ studios in Burbank as scabs attempt to drive through the crowd of 300 strikers. By the end of the day, some 300 police and deputy sheriffs had been called to the scene and over 40 injuries were reported. Media coverage of the violence pressured the studios to negotiate and the strike ended about a month later.
Today in labor history, October 4, 1816: French revolutionary socialist, poet, and transport worker Eugene Pottier is born. Pottier was elected a member of the Paris Commune in 1871. Following the Commune’s defeat, he wrote L’Internationale (“The Internationale”), which has since become the anthem of revolutionary workers’ organizations around the world.
Today in labor history, October 3, 2007: Starbucks and the Industrial Workers of the World reach a settlement agreement over unionizing efforts by employees at a Starbucks store in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The union had filed charges with the NLRB, accusing managers of coercively interrogating employees about their union activities and threatening to fire workers engaged in union organizing activities.
Today in labor history, October 2, 1800: Nat Turner is born into slavery in Southampton County, Virginia. In 1831, Turner led a slave revolt, freeing slaves and killing white men, women, and children, before being captured by militia, tried, and hanged. The state reimbursed the slaveholders for their slaves; in the aftermath, close to 200 black people, many of whom had nothing to do with the rebellion, were murdered by white mobs.
Today in labor history, October 1, 1975: 200 press operators and members of Pressmen’s Local 6 go on strike at the Washington Post. Determined to break the strike and bust the militant union, managers and scabs were flown to the building by helicopter to operate the presses. Nine of the ten other unions at the newspaper supported the striking pressmen, but the nearly two year-long strike ended in defeat.