Today in labor history, May 2, 1968: Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the Paris University at Nanterre, the administration closes the university, setting off a month of civil unrest, general strikes, and the occupation of factories and universities across France by over 11 million students and workers.
Today in labor history, April 14, 1913: Belgian workers begin a general strike, calling for universal suffrage. 400,000 people participated in the strike, which lasted until April 25. Their demand wasn’t met until after the First World War.
Today in labor history, January 18, 1912: Tramway workers trying to organize in Brisbane, Australia, are fired for wearing their union badges to work in defiance of a management ban. That night, 10,000 people rallied in support of the workers and by the end of the month, 43 unions in the city were out on Queensland’s first general strike, which lasted five weeks.
Today in labor history, February 19, 1910: The Philadelphia Rapid Transit trolley company fires 173 workers – all members of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America – and replaces them with scabs from New York City. Street battles, demonstrations, and a general strike ensued in the city that lasted for 57 days.
Today in labor history, December 3, 1946: 130,000 workers from 142 unions – including workers from factories, industries, services, retail stores, transportation systems, and more – declare a “work holiday” and walk off their jobs in support of striking Oakland, California, department store clerks and in opposition to police intervention that was facilitating strike breaking activity. The Oakland General Strike lasted for two days.
Today in labor history, November 8, 1892: Approximately 25,000 workers in New Orleans – half the city’s workforce – begin what will be a three day general strike in support of a strike by three other unions over hours, wages, and job security.
Today in labor history, August 2, 1918: The first general strike in Canadian history is held in Vancouver, B.C. The 24-hour strike, called for by the Vancouver Trades and Labor Council, was in response to the police shooting of labor leader Albert “Ginger” Goodwin.
Today in labor history, July 24, 1877: The first general strike in U.S. history is underway in St. Louis. Led by members of the Workingmen’s Party, it began as an outgrowth of the railroad strike sweeping the country. Workers – skilled and unskilled, black and white – shut down the city for a week until thousands of federal troops and special deputized police arrived, killing at least eighteen people and arresting the strike leaders.
Today in labor history, July 16, 1934: After the brutality of “Bloody Thursday” (see July 5), the Joint Marine Strike Committee calls for a general strike. The San Francisco Labor Council voted to support the call and on July 16, the city shut down as workers from all industries walked off the job. The four-day San Francisco General Strike ended with an agreement on arbitration in which most of the striking longshoremen’s demands were met.
Today in labor history, March 12, 1951: Facing rapidly decreasing wages, a skyrocketing cost of living, and massive repression, upwards of 300,000 workers in Barcelona build upon a boycott against increased tram fares and walk off their jobs in a general strike. It was the first general strike during Franco’s regime.