Monday, December 31, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 31

December 31, 1890 - Ellis Island opened on this date in New York City, where millions of immigrants to the United States first set foot in the land of the free. (From Workday Minnesota)

December 31, 1931 – 60,000 unemployed workers rallied at Pitt Stadium in Pittsburgh, near Father Cox's Shantytown. The shantytown lasted from 1929 to 1932 and was the staging base for the Reverend James Cox's unemployed army. (From the Daily Bleed)

December 31, 1982--Martial law was declared in Poland in 1981 in an attempt to suppress the anti-communist Solidarnosc labor movement. It was suspended on this date in 1982 and officially ended July 22, 1983.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 30

December 30, 1883 - John Swinton's Paper described the abuse of immigrants conned by job sharks lured to the U.S. with tales of high wages and dream jobs, only to get stuck in terrible jobs with rotten wages. (From Workday Minnesota)
Bonnot Gang-First Use of Get Away Car
Victor Serge
 December 30, 1890 – Victor Serge was born on this date in Brussels. Serge was a novelist, poet, historian, & militant activist, most well-known as a member of the Bonnot Gang (see hereherehere and here) and for his novel The Birth of Our Power. (From theDaily Bleed)


December 30, 1905 – Governor Frank Steunenberg of Idaho was assassinated by a bomb during period of bitter labor disputes in the state. Steunenberg, had become governor of Idaho on a Populist Party "defend the working man" ticket, but then called on federal troops to crush the 1899 miners’ strike. Members of the radical WFM were implicated by the actual assassin, Harry Orchard, a union member and paid informant for the Cripple Creek Mine Owners’ Association (From the Daily Bleed and Wikipedia)

December 30, 1936 - Auto workers began their historic sit-down strike at the GM Fisher plant in Flint, Michigan. (From Workday Minnesota)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 29

Sitting Bul
lDecember 29, 1890 - U.S. Army troops slaughtered 150 Sioux men, women and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Days earlier, they had killed Sitting Bull. (From Workday Minnesota)

December 29, 1970 – Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. (From the TWU)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dockworkers Threaten East Coast Strike, Reject West Coast Deal

Bloody Thursday, San Francisco, West Cost Ports Strike, 1934

Dockworkers from Massachusetts to Texas are threatening to strike on Sunday, in what would be the first East Coast port shut down since 1977, a two-month work stoppage that cost retailers billions of dollars (see New York Times). The threat has so worried the corporate bosses that they are demanding Obama block the strike by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act, as Bush did in 2002 to end a West Coast port strike.

The anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act, which passed in 1947, banned the General Strike, solidarity or sympathy strikes, and secondary boycotts. It prohibited closed union shops and opened the door to “right-to-work” legislation. President Truman, whose veto was overridden, called it an “intrusion on free speech.” The law also permits the president to obtain a strike-breaking injunction by claiming that national security is threatened by the strike, which is what corporate leaders want Obama to do.

Many believe that Obama will resist these demands because of his supposed strong ties to the labor movement, pointing to his hands off response to the recent Chicago teachers strike as evidence. However, Obama did not need to intervene in Chicago. His crony Rahm Emanuel applied plenty of pressure on the union, including the threat of obtaining an injunction against the strike. Furthermore, the AFT has consistently served Obama votes (also see here), stymied strikes and brokered sellout contract deals (also see here) that have shoved his corporate “reform” policies down the throats of teachers. The contract that the Chicago Teachers Union finally accepted was no doubt due in part to pressure from Randi Weingarten and the AFT, which had urged the Chicago Teachers Union to avoid striking in the first place and which refused to support the teachers with strike pay.

The ports strike is substantially different than the Chicago teachers strike. Most significantly, a shutdown of the schools has very modest and tangential impacts on profits, while a port shut down is projected to cost retailers millions of dollars a day and Obama’s allegiance to capital is far stronger than his ties with labor. Retailers and other corporate leaders are further fanning the flames by claiming that a port shut down could devastate the economy, particularly in conjunction with the tax increases and spending cuts that will come with the fiscal cliff or any compromises to avert it.

The East Coast dock workers, who belong to the International Longshoremen’s Association (in contrast to their fellow workers on the West Coast, who belong to the ILWU), had been in contract negotiations for nine months, before talks fell apart on December 18. One of the main sticking points is “container royalty payments,” which the shipping companies want to freeze for current employees and eliminate for future employees. These payments averaged $15,000 per employee last year. Aside from the fact that this would lead to stagnation in take-home pay, it would also hurt long-term organizing efforts and solidarity by driving a wedge between old-timers and new members.

While long shore unions are seen by many as among the strongest in the country, they have been losing membership over the past 50 years just like most other unions. These jobs have been lost primarily because of automation. New Jersey and New York employed 35,000 longshoremen in the 1960s and today the number has dwindled to 3,500. They are also far less militant than they were in the 1930s, when the ILWU emerged on the West Coast in the wake of a bloody 83-day strike that killed several longshoremen. 
Engraved Billy Club from Battle of Smith Cove, Seattle (image from Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the ILWU voted Monday by 93.8% to reject the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association “last, best and final” offer. The grain handlers association now plans to lock out the dockworkers and bring in scabs. The Oregonian reports that the owners of Portland, Vancouver and Puget Sound terminals have spent months preparing for a battle on the waterfront, “lining up troops and assets like chess pieces.”

The West Coast grain terminals implementing the lockout handle 25% of the U.S. grain and 50% of its wheat exports, according to the WSWS. Their owners are demanding the same concessions made by the ILWU in Longview, Washington to the EGT (Export Grain Terminal). The EGT contract was a pretty mediocre deal for the Longview dockworkers, particularly in light of the brutality and repression they suffered by police during their struggle. However, the recent vote indicates that the rest of the West Coast dockworkers are unwilling to accept such losses to workplace rights and working conditions.

Knights of Labor Founded Today in Labor History

The Knights of Labor

(From the Knights of Labor website)
The Knights of Labor (KOL), officially known as the "Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor," was founded on December 28, 1869, when both American capitalism and the labor movement were young and relatively disorganized. It began as a secret society, but quickly grew into the largest and most significant labor organization in the U.S. by the 1880s. The Knights are considered by many to be a predecessor to the more well-known Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Like its more radical cousin, the IWW, the KOL called for the abolition of the wage system and fought to organize all workers into one big union, including women and immigrants. And, like the IWW, one of the KOL’s slogans was, “An Injury to One is the Concern of All.”
Terence Powderly
 The KOL was founded by seven members of the Philadelphia tailors' union, led by Uriah Smith Stephens and James L. Wright. However, the Knights’ most rapid growth occurred under the leadership of Terence Powderly, who replaced Stephens as Grand Master, and convinced the organization to give up its secrecy. The Knights originally denounced strikes, socialism, anarchism and radicalism. Yet the organization became a hotbed of radicalism, with members that included Daniel De Leon, who would go on to later cofound the IWW and lead the Socialist Labor Party, as well as Albert Parsons and other future Haymarket martyrs. Furthermore, as the organization grew, it began to launch and win its own strikes (due primarily to the overwhelming demand of its membership, which was far more radical than its leadership), including the Union Pacific Railroad strike in 1884 and the Wabash Railroadstrike in 1885. The success of these strikes inspired hundreds of thousands of workers to join the organization in just one year,  mushrooming from 100,000 in 1885 to nearly 700,000 members in 1886.

One of the things that made the KOL so successful and so significant is that, unlike the majority of trade unions of the time (and today), they reached out to all working people, not just those in a single trade. Their assemblies included workers from all industries, skilled and unskilled, women as well as men, and blacks as well as whites. They fought for equal pay for equal work, the 8-hour day, and the abolition of child and convict labor.
6th Regiment Fighting Workers in the Streets of Baltimore During the Great Upheaval
 The Knights of Labor were closely identified with the Great Upheaval and rail strikes of 1877. Though the workers were ultimately defeated in this mass working class uprising, the KOL was still seen by many as their best bet against capital, in part for their victories early in the revolt, and membership in the organization gradually began to rise during this era. Chicago’s branch of the KOL was inaugurated in the wake of the Great Upheaval and included many of the city’s leading radicals. The Chicago KOL initially supported socialist and “pro-labor” candidates and won some early favors from Mayor Carter Harrison.

Over time, however, Chicago capitalists pressured Harrison to take a harder line on labor, leading to increasing violence by the police against striking workers. At the same time, the capitalists were replacing skilled laborers with machines whenever possible. These trends contributed to the growing radicalization of the labor movement. Many began to see trade unionism as a dead end, as it isolated workers by trade and focused on untrustworthy politicians. More and more looked to the Knights, not only for the class solidarity the organization provided, but because of its recent victory against Robber Baron Jay Gould’s Wabash Railroad. By mid-1886, workers were joining the KOL at the rate of 1,000 per week.

The Knights of Labor were full of contradictions. While they espoused class solidarity and the abolition of the wage system, their leadership criticized the militant tactics of the anarchists and even called for summary punishment for those “responsible” for the Haymarket bombing, despite the fact that there wasn’t a shred of evidence linking any of the 8 Haymarket suspects to the bombing. Ultimately, when it became clear that it was a legal lynching by a kangaroo court, the rank-and-file of the KOL pushed for a new leadership that defended the Haymarket anarchists as victims of a labor witch hunt.
Chinese Massacre at Rock Springs, WY
 The Knights also had a mixed history in terms of race and immigrant laborers. They accepted women and black workers as early as 1878, yet they tolerated segregation in the South (including in their own assemblies) and Asians were often excluded. The Knights organized black sugar cane workers in Thibodaux, Louisiana. However, their 1887 sugarcane strike turned into a race riot, in which white vigilantes slaughtered between 50 and 300 unarmed black sugarcane workers. The event is known as the Thibodaux massacre. While some might blame this tragedy on naiveté and poor organizing by a union that otherwise was a supporter of black workers, their attitude toward Chinese immigrants was notoriously hostile. In Tacoma, Washington, the KOL worked to expel the city’s Chinese population and white members of the Knights participated in the Rock Springs massacre in Wyoming, which led to the deaths of 28 Chinese Americans. They also strongly supported the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Contract Labor Law.

Powderly’s rabid hatred of radicals nearly killed the KOL, but his collaborationist wimpiness, authoritarian leadership and general mismanagement ultimately did the organization in. In 1886, for example, he intervened in a packinghouse workers strike, ordering workers back on the job when a compromise with the bosses appeared imminent. He feared that a strike at this point would have led to a wave of strikes that could have crippled the organization. This may have been true, but only because his disdain for strikes prevented the necessary organizing and preparation. Yet his weakness and unwillingness to fight led the defeat of the packers and contributed to the mass exodus of workers from the organization that effectively killed the Knights anyway.
Haymarket Bombing
 He also withdrew KOL support for the May 1, 1886 General Strike that had been called in Chicago to fight for the 8-hour day. This certainly weakened the Knights, as the fight for the 8-hour day had grown into a national movement, supported by working people of all persuasions including many mainstream trade unions, as well as socialists and anarchists. Yet the ruling elite were blaming outsiders, foreign radicals, bomb-throwing anarchists, in hopes of diffusing support for the movement, and Powderly, who was still viciously anti-radical, hoped to rescue the image of his organization by distancing it from the movement, even though the Knights had been early supporters of the 8-hour day.

There were also numerous disputes between skilled trade unionists in the KOL, who wanted an organization that represented primarily their relatively privileged status, and industrial unionists, who wanted an organization that built solidarity between all workers in a given industry. The latter, of course, has greater potential to win strikes, as it makes it harder to pit workers against each other, but it requires organizing the so-called “unskilled” and “semi-skilled” workers, who many believed couldn’t be organized. The IWW, which was an industrial union, later proved that it was possible and very effective to organize these workers.


Today in Labor History—December 28

Terence Powderly, Grand Master of Knights of Labor, 1890
December 28, 1869 - The Knights of Labor (KOL) was founded on this date. Though the leadership often denounced socialists and anarchists, the KOL attracted and spawned many, including Daniel DeLeon, who would go on to later cofound the IWW and the Socialist Labor Party, as well as two of the Haymarket martyrs. The KOL also denounced strikes, yet, like its more radical cousin, the IWW, it called for the abolition of the wage system and fought to organize all workers into one big union, including women and immigrants. And, like the IWW, one of the KOL’s slogans was, “An Injury to One is the Concern of All.” The KOL was one of the main organizations behind the Great Upheavaland one of the first labor organization not only to take on the Robber Barons, but to defeat them (if only temporarily). (From Workday Minnesota, the Daily Bleed, and the Lucy Parsons Project).
Flint Sit-Down Strike
 December 28, 1936 - The great sit-down strike against General Motors in Flint, Michigan, was preceded by two days when workers at the Fisher Body plant in Cleveland engaged in a sit-down strike. (From Workday Minnesota)

December 28, 1944 – 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army to seize the executive offices of Montgomery Ward and Company after the patriotic corporation failed to comply with a National War Labor Board directive regarding union shops.  (From the Daily Bleed)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Worse Than the Big One—California’s Looming Megaflood

Sacramento, January 1862, USGS

Intense rainstorms began to pound central California on Christmas Eve, 1861, and continued nonstop for 43 days, converting the rivers that flow from the Sierra Nevada into torrents that flooded the Central Valley. Entire communities were swept away. Sacramento was under water for the next six months, forcing the state government to be relocated to San Francisco. The Central Valley became an inland sea that was 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of cows were killed. The state was bankrupted by the disaster. (From Scientific American, “Megastorms Could Drown Portions of California.”)

Sounds cataclysmic and it was, but new evidence indicates that storms like this have occurred roughly every 200 years in California, many far more intense than the one in 1861. A megaflood in 1605 is estimated to have been 50% worse than any of the others, including the one in 1861. These megastorms are caused by Atmospheric Rivers, thin belts of water vapor that hover about a mile above the Earth’s surface, extending thousands of miles over the sea. They originate in the tropics and carry as much water as 10 Mississippi Rivers. While the megastorms occur relatively infrequently, weaker atmospheric rivers hit the California coast yearly and, for the past 50 years, have produced 30-50% of the state’s rain and snow in just 10 days each year.
Hypothetical Flooding From Megastorm, USGS
According to Scientific American, climate models suggest that global warming will increase the number of atmospheric rivers hitting California each year and they will carry more water than previous ones, increasing the frequency and intensity of megastorms. At the same time, the state’s population is far higher than it was in 1861. Hundreds of communities and large cities now exist in the Central Valley, with a combined population of 6 million people. The Sacramento area alone is home to more than 1 million people, while Fresno has over 500,000 people. The Central Valley is also one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world, producing about $20 billion in crops annually. A model projecting the effects of an atmospheric river lasting only 23 days found there would be more than $700 billion in damage to property, business and agriculture. It would also likely lead to food shortages.

Atmospheric rivers also bring devastation to other west coasts and even some inland regions. Nashville’s flooding in 2010 (30 deaths, $2 billion in damage) was due to an atmospheric river. There was substantial damage to England and Spain from atmospheric rivers in 2009. Last month, Wales and England experienced their worst flooding in 50 years. Other regions susceptible to megaflooding from atmospheric rivers include Chile, Namibia and Western Australia.

Ironically, while Californians are hypersensitive to the risks of earthquakes and the state regularly prepares contingencies and practices emergency procedures for earthquakes, virtually nothing is being done to protect the state from megafloods, which would be roughly three times more costly than a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hitting the state’s populous south. The state’s levees, for example, are in deplorable condition and could be damaged by much milder storms, risking the inundation of croplands with sea water. At the same time, while earthquakes cannot be predicted, an atmospheric river can be seen coming days in advance and NOAA is now monitoring them very closely.

Today in Labor History—December 27

December 27, 1913 -- A rebellion by IWW workers in Edmonton, Alberta forced the city to house 400 unemployed during winter. (From the Daily Bleed)

December 27, 1916 – A steelworkers strike occurred in Ohio in which workers were demanding the 8-hour day and an increase in wages. The strike ended quickly in their favor because the government needed steel for armaments. (From the 
Daily Bleed)

December 27, 1943 - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt seized the railroads in attempt to block a nationwide rail strike. The railroads would be temporarily placed under the "supervision" of the War Department, which prompted the five railroad brotherhoods to accept his offer to arbitrate the dispute. (FromWorkday Minnesota)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

CalSTRS Forces Sale of Bushmaster Investment—Retains Other Death Holdings

 Image by Mike Licht,
Less than one day after the California teachers’ pension fund, CalSTRS, threatened to cut ties with the private equity firm  Cerberus Capital Management, the company sold off its stake in Freedom Group (see Edsource), which includes Bushmaster, manufacturer of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used by Adam Lanza to massacre 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Cerberus is owned by the billionaire financier Stephen A. Feinberg, who is a gun enthusiast. His father, Martin Feinberg, lives in Newtown, CT. Despite this connection to the tragedy, the firm’s decision to jettison Freedom Group probably has much more to do with profits than either ethics or pressure from CalSTRS. Weapons stocks have been on the decline since the shooting in anticipation of new gun control legislation, while cutting ties with Bushmaster will no doubt improve public perception of Cerberus and make them appear like a good corporate citizen.

CalSTRS has $600 million invested in the Cerberus fund, according to the New York Times, while the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, has roughly  $400 million invested in the company. Edsource quoted California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who sits on the boards of both pension funds: “Our objective is to make sure that both CalPERS and CalSTRS are scrubbed clean of any investment in any company that makes guns that are illegal in this state and expose our communities to violence and death.”

In reality, Lockyer and the CalPERS and CalSTRS boards are only interested in scrubbing their own images clean. They have merely chosen the lowest hanging fruit—the company that manufactured one of the guns used by one psychopath in just the most recent deadly school rampage. CalSTRS continues to maintain holdings in numerous other “merchants of death,” including Smith and Wesson. Indeed, their holdings are a veritable rogues gallery of companies involved in everything from warfare to union busting to ecological destruction. Here are just a few:
Image by Donkey Hotey
  • Bain Capital’s role in liquidating businesses and laying off workers was heavily covered by the press during the recent presidential elections. What received much less coverage was the fact that Mitt Romney helped found the company with investments from Salvadoran elites who had ties to their country’s death squads.
  • The Carlyle Group is sometimes called the “Ex-Presidents Club” for all the ex-politicians that have served on its board or as company advisors (George Bush Sr., John Major, James Baker, Frank Carlucci). It is the 3rd largest equity firm in the world and a major player in the military-industrial complex, reaping huge profits from the war on terror and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. California attempted to ban CalPERS from investing in companies like Carlyle that are partly owned by countries with poor human rights records, but the legislation was withdrawn (probably due to influence peddling by Carlyle lobbyists).—(Sources: SF Chronicle, The Guardian)
  • Chevron is responsible for regular explosions and fires at its Richmond, California plant, sickening thousands of local residents and polluting the air and water, as well as far more extensive and devastating pollution in the Niger Delta and Ecuador. However, Chevron has also been complicit in outright murder in Nigeria and elsewhere. In 1998 Chevron recruited and supplied the Nigerian military in its assault on activists in the Niger Delta that killed 2 protesters and injured several others. (Sources: Democracy Now, SF Chronicle, the Huffinton Post)
  • Coca Cola has been accused of contracting and directing the paramilitaries in Columbia in assassinations of union members, as well as the rape and murder of unionists and their families in Guatemala. It has also been accused of pollution in many countries and depleting their water supplies. (Sources: KillerCoke, PBS Frontline, Common Dreams)
  • Dow Chemical has a long and sordid history of producing deadly and environmentally destructive products. It was the producer of Agent Orange, which is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese and maimed another 500,000 during its use by the U.S. military in the 1960s. In 2001, Dow merged with Union Carbide, which was responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas explosion, which killed as many as 8,000 people within the first 2 weeks and another 8,000 or more since. It was the largest industrial accident ever, exposing over 500,000 people to methyl isocyanate and other toxic chemicals. The ground water is still contaminated and people continue to be born with deformities and suffer illness and debilitation so severe they cannot work or support themselves. Dow refuses to pay compensation to the victims or to clean up the local environment.
  • DuPont has a 200-year history of producing weapons and toxic chemicals that are responsible for thousands of deaths world-wide. DuPont began as a gun-powder manufacturer, but has also contributed to the development of chemical and nuclear weapons. The company has been implicated in union busting, environmental pollution and numerous instances of workplace injury and death. (Sources: Corp Watch)
  • General Electric is most notorious for its role in manufacturing nuclear weapons. However, the company is also responsible for massive environmental contamination and numerous corporate crimes. Its nuclear waste facility in Hanford, WA, has released more radiation into the environment than the 3 Mile Island disaster. GE was also responsible for the release of 138 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River. As of 2001, GE had 78 Super Fund sites and had paid hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. GE was also involved in gruesome experiments in which U.S. prisoners and other civilians were deliberately exposed to radiation without warning them about the cancer risks. (Sources: Clean Up GE, Multinational Monitor)
  • Halliburton is one of the world’s largest oilfield service companies and one of the most viciously anti-union. They have a history of partnering with repressive dictators and complicity in human rights violations, including in Burma, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Indonesia. They were partly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the largest in U.S. history and they profited handsomely from the war in Iraq. (Sources: Wikipedia, Corp Watch)
  • Lockheed Martin is America’s largest defense contractor, receiving over $29 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. It has produced spy satellites and helped the Pentagon spy on U.S. citizens, provided interrogators (i.e., torturers) for Guantanamo Bay, built military aircraft, and helped shape U.S. foreign policy for decades. Lockheed Martin produces Hellfire missiles, which are the most common missile fired from U.S. drones and which are responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths. (Sources: Prophets of War, Alternet, Salon)
  • Nike is guilty of gross labor violations in Latin America and Asia, including the exploitation of children. (Sources: Counter Punch)
  • Occidental Petroleum has been accused of funding death squads and a Columbian military unit that assassinated unionists. (Sources: Courthouse News)
  • Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles. Its missiles were used in several civilian massacres by Israel in Lebanon. In the 1990s, its Patriot missiles were used by the U.S. to slaughter tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq. (They also produce Tomahawk missiles and “bunker buster” bombs). Raytheon admitted using prisoners in California to test a “nonlethal” pain weapon and they have contaminated many of the areas in which their production plants are located with deadly carcinogens. (Sources: Raytheon-Wikipedia, Raytheon 9-Wikipedia, Corp Watch)
CalSTRS is also invested in Bank of America, Walmart, Microsoft, Waste Management Inc., Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Honeywell, Taser, Monsanto, Morgan Stanly, Green Dot.

Today in Labor History—December 26

Siege of New Ulm, MN, Sioux Uprising
December 26, 1862 – America’s largest public mass execution occurred in Mankato, Minnesota, not surprisingly, when the U.S. military hanged 38 Native Americans for participating in the "Sioux Outbreak." (From Workday Minnesota)

December 26, 1996 – The largest series of strikes and walkouts in South Korean history were occurring on this date, with hundreds of thousands of workers, to protest new legislation that made it easier for companies to layoff and fire workers and avoid paying overtime. (From the Daily Bleed)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Retailers Have Scrooge Moment--Open Shelves to Everyone

A Christmas Miracle

Retailers were visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future last night. In response, they miraculously and unanimously decided to open their shelves to one an all. Police and firefighters, who received similar visits, voluntarily kept order using Nerfs, inflatable toys, Hula Hoops and Tickle Me Elmo dolls.
(Image from Flickr, Mike Licht, Notions
Unfortunately, the festivities were marred when Child Protective Services came and arrested the child molesting voice of the Elmo dolls, bringing shrieks and tears from the children who still love Elmo and who remain innocently ignorant of his voice's legal problems. The Elmo dolls were saved, however, by an army of Lego ninjas and Buzz Lightyear dolls, who wrested the cute, cuddly muppets away from the CPS storm troopers.

Today in Labor History—December 25

The Los Angeles Times Building After the 1910 Bombing

December 25, 1910 - A dynamite bomb destroyed a portion of the Llewellyn Ironworks in Los Angeles on this date. On October 1st, a bomb had destroyed much of the Los Angeles Times building, killing 21 employees and injuring over 100. The Iron Workers had been engaged in a brutal and protracted battle with U.S. Steel and the American Bridge Company, which had been successfully busting their union through the use of spies, informants, scabs and agents provocateur, as well as propaganda by their friend Harrison Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times. By 1910, they had nearly succeeded in driving all the unions from their plants, except for the Iron Workers union, which had instigated a bombing campaign starting in 1906. James McNamara and his brother, John McNamara, secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, were arrested for the two crimes in April, 1911. However, James had been kidnapped and held hostage for a week by Private Detective William Burns and Chicago police sergeant William Reed prior to his extradition to Los Angeles, while his brother John, who was later arrested by Burns, was denied access to an attorney and illegally extradited to Los Angeles. Both McNamaras had been arrested based on the confession of a third man who had likely been tortured and many in the labor movement felt they were being framed. James McNamara spent the rest of his life in San Quentin, dying there in 1941. John served 15 years and then went on to serve as an organizer for the Iron Workers. (From Workday Minnesota and Wikipedia)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 24

Today in Labor History—December 24

December 24, 1834 – Elizabeth Chandler, abolitionist, was born on this date.In 1825, when she was only eighteen years old, her poem, "The Slave-Ship", was published, leading Benjamin Lundy, a well-known abolitionist and publisher, to ask her to write for his periodical, The Genius of Universal Emancipation. Chandler called for better treatment for Native Americans and the immediate emancipation of slaves. Chandler was responsible for popularizing one of the most famous abolitionist images, the kneeling female slave with the slogan "Am I not a Woman and a Sister." (From the Daily Bleedand Wikipedia)
Woody Guthrie’s “1913 Massacre” Performed by Ramblin’ Jack Elliot

December 24, 1913 - Seventy-four people in Calumet, Michigan, were killed in the "Calumet Massacre." About 500 children and their parents were at a Christmas party for the children of striking copper miners, when someone yelled "Fire!" There was no fire, but dozens were trampled in the ensuing panic. Goons and scabs barred the doors, trapping people inside, exacerbating the injuries. The person who yelled “fire” was never identified, but many strikers believed it was a company guard. (From Workday Minnesotaand the Daily Bleed)

December 24, 1936 – On Christmas Eve 50 policemen beat up 150 strikers on the Houston docks. (From the Daily Bleed)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 23

December 23, 1617--America's first penal colony was established in Virginia, creating safe, humane [sic] home for the nascent country's future class war prisoners. (From the Daily Bleed)

December 23, 1921 - President Warren Harding issued a "Christmas amnesty," freeing Eugene V. Debs and 23 other political prisoners who had been imprisoned for their opposition to World War I. (from Workday Minnesota)

December 23, 1938--Franco's forces launched an assault on Catalonia.(From the Daily Bleed)

December 23, 1947-- Truman pardoned 1,523 out of 15,805 WWII draft resistors.(From the Daily Bleed)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 22

Today in Labor History—December 22

December 22, 1731 – There was a Dutch revolt against a meat tax on this date. (From the Daily Bleed)
The UST Buford, AKA the Soviet Ark, AKA An Xmas Gift to Lenin and Trotsky
 December 22, 1919 – During a strike by 395,000 steelworkers, approximately 250 "anarchists," "communists," and "labor agitators" were deported from the United States and sent to Russia, on the U.S.S. Buford (dubbed the Christmas Gift for Trotsky). Included among the deportees were Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman (the man who shot Henry Clay Frick in retaliation for his role in the Homestead massacre). This marked the beginning of the first "Red Scare." (From Workday Minnesota)

December 22, 1922 – The International Congress of Revolutionary Syndicalists met in Berlin, leading to the founding of the International Workers Association (AIT/ IWA). The anti-authoritarian AIT served as an umbrella organization for numerous anarcho-syndicalist trade unionists from 12 countries (FORA, USI, SAC, FAUD, CNT, etc.) with several million members at its height. (From the Daily Bleed)

December 22, 1997 – Méxican paramilitaries associated with the ruling PRI party massacred 45 peasants in the village of Acteal. Chiapas. (From theDaily Bleed)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Today in Labor History—December 21

Escuela Santa Maria, 1907
December 21, 1907 – The Santa María School massacre occurred in Iquique, Chile on this date. The massacre was committed by the Chilean Army against striking saltpeter (nitrate) miners and their wives and children. The number of victims was never determined. However, reliable estimates put the death toll at over 2,000, and some sources put it as high was 3,600. (From the Daily Bleedand Wikipedia)
The First Get-Away Car? (Caricature of the Bonnot Gang)
 December 21, 1911 – The get-away-car was first used in a bank robbery on this date in France. The Bonnot Gang, a group of anarchist bandits, pulled off the first bank robbery using an automobile, in broad daylight, in the midst of a populous Paris district. (From the Daily Bleed)

December 21, 1916 – The Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) were outlawed on this date in Australia. (From the 
Daily Bleed)
A Bloodied Nurse from the film The Battleship Potemkin
 December 21, 1925 – Serge Eisenstein's silent movie The Battleship Potemkin premiered on this date in Moscow. This silent film, which inspired many later film greats, depicts the 1905 mutiny of sailors against their Czarist commanders during the Russo-Japanese war. (From the Daily Bleed)
Baby Carriage Falling Down Steps in Odessa (also from the film, The Battleship Potemkin)
 December 21, 1986 – More than 50,000 students demonstrated for democracy and freedom in Shanghai's Peoples Square. (From Workday Minnesota)