The Week In Labor History (May 29)

The Week In Labor History (May 29)

May 23

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


May 25
 
Philip Murray is born in Scotland. He went on to emigrate to the U.S., become founder and first president of the United Steelworkers of America, and head of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) from 1940 until his death in 1952 – 1886
 
Thousands of unemployed WWI veterans arrive in Washington, D.C., to demand early payment of a bonus they had been told they would get, but not until 1945. They built a shantytown near the U.S. Capitol but were burned out by U.S. troops after two months – 1932

May 26

Actors’ Equity Association is founded by 112 actors at a meeting in New York City’s Pabst Grand Circle Hotel. Producer George M. Cohan responds: “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union.” Later a sign will appear in Times Square reading: “Elevator operator wanted. George M. Cohan need not apply” – 1913


May 28

Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia for dancing the Turkey Trot. They were on their lunch break, but management thought the dance too racy – 1912


May 29

Animators working for Walt Disney begin what was to become a successful 5-week strike for recognition of their union, the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild. The animated feature Dumbo was being created at the time and, according to Wikipedia, a number of strikers are caricatured in the feature as clowns who go to “hit the big boss for a raise” – 1941
 
A contract between the United Mine Workers and the U.S. government known as the Promise of 1946 establishes one of the nation’s first union medical and pension plans, the multi-employer UMWA Welfare and Retirement Fund – 1946
The United Farm Workers of America reaches agreement with Bruce Church Inc. on a contract for 450 lettuce harvesters, ending a 17-year-long boycott. The pact raised wages, provided company-paid health benefits to workers and their families, created a seniority system to deal with seasonal layoffs and recalls, and established a pesticide monitoring system – 1996

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