Today in labor history, July 18, 1969: A 113-day strike by hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina ends. In March, after two years of local organizing efforts, the workers established the first hospital union branch in the country, Local 1199B of the National Health Care Workers’ Union, and went on strike over discriminatory practices, unequal pay, institutional harassment, and widespread racism.
Today in labor history, July 17, 1981: 3,500 miners in the Cape Breton Island coal fields in Nova Scotia, Canada, go on strike over wages. It was the first strike since nationalization of the mines in 1967. The bitter strike was settled in October, with a tentative agreement that raised wages 50 percent over two years.
Today in labor history, July 6, 1889: Striking laborers employed by contractors on street and sewer improvements in Duluth, Minnesota, attempt to break through the police presence protecting scabs doing their work. The police opened fire and a gun battle ensued that resulted in the deaths of four workers and a bystander; many more were seriously wounded. The state militia was called in and drove the workers back with fixed bayonets. Strike leaders were arrested and the police who participated were given gold medals.
Today in labor history, July 5, 1888: 1,500 workers go on strike at the Bryant and May match factory in London after management fires two people suspected of providing information that led to an expose about the appalling working conditions in the factory. The women and girls were subjected to fourteen-hour days, low pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus. The strike was quickly settled; in 1908 the British government banned the use of white phosphorus in matches.
Today in labor history, July 3, 1901: Striking hard rock miners in Telluride, Colorado, confront scabs at the mine. A gun battle ensued, resulting in three deaths and six injuries. Later that day, the striking miners rounded up the scabs and ordered them to leave the county. The strike was settled three days later when the mine owners agreed the miners’ demands for $3/day and an eight-hour day.
Today in labor history, June 27, 1949: 23,000 coal miners in Australia strike over wages and working conditions. The Australian Labor Party government confiscated union funds, raided union offices, imprisoned leaders, and imposed fines. On August 1, troops armed with machine guns, bayonets, and rifles entered the coalfields. Within two weeks, the strike was broken.
Today in labor history, June 15, 1987: 300 voice-over actors working in television animation begin what will be a five week-long strike that resulted in a new contract which included a wage increase, shorter recording sessions, and a bonus when required to do three main characters in one session.
Today in labor history, June 1, 1921: Established by Congress in 1920, the Railroad Labor Board cuts rail workers’ wages 12.5 percent. Following a series of further actions by the Board over the next year, 400,000 railroad shop workers went out on what would be a bitter three month-long strike on July 1, 1922.
Today in labor history, May 25, 1805: In Philadelphia, leaders of a shoemakers’ union are arrested for organizing one of the country’s first strikes. They were brought to trial on criminal conspiracy charges of trying to raise their wages and convicted. In 1842, another case – also involving a strike by shoemakers – overturned the precedent set by Commonwealth v. Pullis.