Today in Labor History--May 15
May 15, 1834 – Cherokee Indians reached Little Rock, Arkansas, during the Trail of Tears forced march and genocide by U.S. government. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1872— Julia Ward Howe declared the first Mother's Day as an anti-war holiday. Howe was an abolitionist and also wrote the lyrics for the Battle Hymn of the Republic. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1893 –The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) was founded by Big Bill Haywood, who, in 1905, helped found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1894 – New Jersey became the first state to prohibit employment discrimination against union members. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1897 – The Gay Liberation Society was formed by Max Spohr in Munich. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1902 – Anthracite miners began a U.S. strike. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1906 – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Samuel Gompers and other unions on their boycott of the Buck Stove and Range Co. in St. Louis. Workers there were striking for a nine-hour day. Workers were being imprisoned for refusing to obey the judge’s anti-boycott injunction. (From The Unionist)
May 15, 1912 – Andre Rene Valet (1890-1912) and Octave Garnier (1889-1912), members of the illegalist Bonnot Gang, were gunned down in a shootout with the police in France. The two were the last of the gang to be killed (or apprehended). They were attacked by 300 policemen and gendarmes, plus 800 soldiers. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15 , 1917 – The Library Employees’ Union was founded in New York City, making it the first union of public library workers in the United States. One of their main goals was to elevate the low status of women library workers and their miserable salaries. (From The Unionist)
|Winnipeg General Strike|
May 15, 1919 - Workers in Winnipeg, Canada, participated in a huge general strike involving 30,000 workers. The strike lasted until June 26th, when the Winnipeg Labor Council declared the strike over. During the strike, police tried repeatedly to violently suppress the workers. (From Workday Minnesota and the Daily Bleed)
May 15 , 1920 – The first labor bank opened in Washington, D.C., launched by officers of the Machinists. The Locomotive Engineers opened a bank in Cleveland later that year. (From The Unionist)
May 15, 1921 – Pat Sullivan released the radical animated Felix the Cat cartoon, "Felix Goes on Strike." (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1935 – The National Labor Relations Act was passed, recognizing workers' right to organize and bargain collectively. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15 , 1942 – IWW song writer T-Bone Slim, died in New York City. T-Bone wrote such Wobbly classics as “The Mysteries of a Hobo’s Life,” “The Popular Wobbly,” and “The Lumberjack’s Prayer. (From The Unionist and “Rebel Voices,” edited by Joyce L. Kornbluh). For more, see this bio on the IWW website.
Classic T-Bone Quotes:
- "Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack."
- "Tear Gas: The most effective agent used by employers to persuade their employees that the interests of capital and labour are identical."
May 15, 1969 – The Battle for People's Park was fought by student activists against the University of California and the police in Berkeley, California, over a small strip of land that the students had claimed as community commons. Gov. Ronald Reagan sent in National Guard to reclaim the Park. Police gunfire killed a bystander, James Rector, and wounded 60 others, including Alan Blanchard, who was blinded for life. Street fighting continued for 17 days. Another 150 demonstrators would be shot and wounded. (From the Daily Bleed)
May 15, 1973 – Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathon Kwitney uncovered the true face of American labor bosses: AFL-CIO President George Meany, Secretary-Treasurer Lane Kirkland and other union officials were among the 60 leading stockholders in the 15,000 acre Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic, benefitting handsomely when the Dominican president sent troops to forcibly evict impoverished tobacco farmers and fishermen who had lived there for generations. (From The Unionist)