Today in labor history, May 16, 1938: The U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in the case of NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co., permitting employers to permanently replace striking workers. The court said that management could not fire strikers, but could “permanently replace” them. The United States remains one of the few countries in the world where it is legal for strikers to lose their jobs.
Today in labor history, May 14, 1931: Striking sawmill workers in Adalen, Sweden, march to the mills to protest the fact that scabs were brought in to break their strike. Soldiers sent to protect the strikebreakers opened fire on the workers, killing five people. The next day, a general strike was called in Adalen and 80,000 people demonstrated in Stockholm to protest the shootings.
Today in labor history, May 12, 1902: Nearly 150,000 anthracite coal miners go on strike in Eastern Pennsylvania for higher wages, better working conditions, and recognition of their union: the United Mine Workers of America. After months of an extreme coal shortage, President Teddy Roosevelt intervened, a commission was set up, and the strike was called off after 163 days.
Today in labor history, May 11, 1894: With their wages slashed and no reduction in rent at the company housing, Pullman Palace Car Company factory workers walk off the job. The workers sought the support of the American Railway Union, which gave notice in June that its members would no longer work trains that included Pullman cars. The strike and boycott crippled railway traffic nationwide and at its peak involved 250,000+ workers in 27 states.
Today in labor history, May 7, 1907: Two die and twenty are injured on “Bloody Tuesday” in San Francisco when company strikebreakers open fire on striking streetcar operators. Over the course of the strike, two dozen people died in accidents on the system while it was run by scab labor and an estimated 900+ others were injured.
Today in labor history, April 26, 1944: After management at Montgomery Ward repeatedly refuses to comply with an order by the National War Labor Board (created to avert strikes in critical war-support industries) to recognize the workers’ union and abide by the collective bargaining agreement that the board worked out, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the Army National Guard to seize the company’s property in Chicago and remove its chairman, Sewell Avery.
Today in labor history, April 20, 1914: State militia and company guards attack the tent city that striking coal miners set up in Ludlow, Colorado. Following a machine gun assault, they set fire to the camp. The exact number of men, women, and children who were killed that day remains unknown. In 2009, the site of the Ludlow Massacre was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Today in Labor History, April 18, 1912: What would become known as the West Virginia Mine War of 1912-1913 begins when coal operators refuse to agree to the union’s demand of wages on par with other union mines in the area. The strike quickly spread as it became clear that the goal of the coal operators was to bust the union and drive the United Mine Workers of America out.
Today in labor history, April 12, 1934: The Toledo Electric Auto-Lite strike begins over union recognition and wages. The strike, which lasted nearly two months, involved a five-day battle (“The Battle of Toledo”) between 6,000+ strikers and the Ohio National Guard, leaving two striking workers dead and more than 200 injured.
Today in labor history, April 11, 1986: Police fire tear gas into a group of 400 striking P-9 workers and supporters who are blockading the entrances to the Hormel plant; 17 people are arrested on felony riot charges. The following day, thousands rallied in Austin, Minnesota, in support of the strike.