People’s Labor History from Union City

This week’s Labor History Today podcast: Forced labour during the ”Dirty Thirties”; Last week’s show: Blood, guts, and organizing.

May 23

An estimated 100,000 textile workers, including more than 10,000 children, strike in the Philadelphia area. Among the issues: 60-hour workweeks, including night hours, for the children – 1903

Ten thousand strikers at Toledo, Ohio’s Auto-Lite plant repel police who have come to break up their strike for union recognition. The next day, two strikers are killed and 15 wounded (photo) when National Guard machine gun units open fire. Two weeks later the company recognized the union and agreed to a 5 percent raise – 1934

U.S. railroad strike starts, later crushed when President Truman threatens to draft strikers – 1946

May 24

After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world” – 1883

2,300 members of the United Rubber Workers, on strike for 10 months against five Bridgestone-Firestone plants, agree to return to work without a contract. They had been fighting demands for 12-hour shifts and wage increases tied to productivity gains – 1995

– David Prosten

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