⚖️In August 2021, the NLRB investigated and prosecuted violations of workers’ rights that have resulted in recovering $4,019,992. To learn more about your rights in the workplace, visit http://NLRB.gov or call 1-844-762-NLRB.nnEspañol en los comentarios⬇
More than 1,000 Nabisco workers across the country have ended their strike after successfully securing a new contract. Workers will receive raises of 2.25 percent in 2021 and 60 cents per hour each year for the next three years. The contract also doubles the company’s 401(K) matching contributions and includes a $5,000 bonus.nnCongratulations to these courageous workers for fighting back against corporate exploitation. This year has seen an explosion in workers leveraging their power, from the historic union drive at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama to the Frito-Lay workers who went on strike in Topeka, Kansas to the striking coal miners in Brookwood, Alabama. It’s heartening to see all these workers take their power back. Solidarity, always.
Plans for a $27 million power plant in Grand Haven have been dropped by the Board of Light and Power, which cited community opposition as the reason.
“The deal was a win-win for Niles because it transformed an unproductive brownfield site into a plant that has employed hundreds of construction workers and will boost the tax base and provide reliable energy for decades to come.”
On this day in labor history, the year was 1947. That was the day workers at the International Harvester plant in Louisville, Kentucky had had enough. They had just rejected a pay scale lower than that of Harvester workers elsewhere. nnIn her recent article for Leo Weekly, historian Toni Gilpin refers to the lower pay as the “Southern Differential.” Harvester workers walked off the job in a 40-day strike. Black and white Louisville workers were united in a rare form of solidarity. International Harvester had had a long labor-hating history. nnIts forerunner had been McCormick Reaper Works, the site that sparked the 1886 Haymarket incident in Chicago. Harvester had been able to keep the unions out until the Farm Equipment Workers/CIO finally organized there in 1941. And the FE followed Harvester as they attempted to escape to the union-free South. The FE successfully organized the new Louisville plant, just two months before the strike. nnWorkers learned quickly that they were paid much less making the same equipment as their brothers in Chicago, Indianapolis and elsewhere. Gilpin adds that FE literature forthrightly stated, “Once the Negro and white workers were united, the low-wage system of the South would collapse.” nnWorkers pressed for their demands, and appealed to area farmers for support. They stressed that farmers would not pay less for equipment, simply because local workers were paid less. Black and white workers picketed together, ate together and planned their strike together at their new union hall. nnHarvester initially tried to redbait FE leaders. When that failed, the company was forced to grant steep wage increases. Gilpin cites FE News, which reported “two smashing victories in hand, one over International Harvester, the other over the Mason-Dixon, low-wage line.”
On this day in labor history, the year was 1945. That was the day oil workers walked off the job. The strike soon spread to 20 states and involved more than 43,000 workers at 22 oil companies. nnAfter years of wartime wage freezes, the union’s demand was 52 for 40—fifty-two hours pay for 40 hours work. Workers demanded a 30% pay increase, shift differentials and an eventual return to the 36-hour workweek. nnThe strike began in Michigan at the Socony-Vacuum refinery in Trenton. From there it spread to Gulf, Sinclair and Shell. By October 4, President Truman signed executive order 9639, allowing the Secretary of the Navy to seize petroleum operations. nnThe Oil Workers International Union/CIO immediately called off the strike and ordered its members back to work. A month later, the Navy had still not relinquished control of operations. The union considered Truman’s seizure a betrayal. There was no mechanism put in place to settle the dispute or consider workers demands. nnBy January 1946, the Oil Panel, created by the Secretary of Labor, finally awarded oil workers an 18% wage increase. Though disappointed, the union considered it a victory. They asserted the strike action was significant on a number of levels. nnThe first nationwide industry strike had just forced the oil companies to meet with the union for the first time. The OWI believed the groundwork for industry-wide bargaining had finally been established.nnIt had been the first post-war strike and had forced the government to begin moving away from wartime wage controls. Of the post-war strikes, it won the largest pay increase. And importantly, it broke the power of Standard Oil to dictate wages to the industry through its dealings with its “independent union.”
On this day in labor history, the year was 1970. That was the day 350,000 GM workers kicked off a 67-day strike. It was the largest auto strike since the end of World War II. According to historian Jefferson Cowie, it was likely the costliest. nnIn his book, Stayin’ Alive, Cowie notes that the strike cost GM a billion dollars in profits and nearly bankrupted the union. But he adds it “lacked the proletarian drama that fired journalists’ hearts.” For Cowie, it was an example of labor-management cooperation, “a civilized affair.” nnBut historian Jeremy Brecher points out that The Wall Street Journal drew different conclusions about the strike at the time. In a series of articles, the paper noted that labor-management cooperation during the strike served ironically, to get workers back to work. nnA long and costly strike served a number of functions. It wore down strikers’ expectations. After eight or ten weeks, workers would be amenable to terms they initially rejected. It also provided an escape valve for built up frustration over working conditions. And a long strike served to coalesce internal union factions around a common enemy, strengthening the union’s leadership in the process. For management, a long and costly strike leant hope that workers would be reluctant to strike in the future. nnBut Brecher notes, these ideas about workers motives nearly backfired. Strikers simply wouldn’t budge on their demands. They made gains in wages, pensions and cost of living allowances. And they were finally able to retire after 30 years. nnBut critics argued the agreement fell short of initial demands. And workers lacked more say in the workplace. This would be a key issue in the many strikes and wildcats in the years to come.
“Any Politician Who Doesn't Back the PRO Act Shouldn't Get Labor's Support.”nnRead more from our union brother Jimmy Williams, IUPAT President:
On this day in labor history, the year was 1917. That was the day Illinois Governor Frank Lowden hoped to meet with striking streetcar men in an effort to end their strike. nnTransit workers in Springfield, the state’s capitol, had been off the job since July 25th. But the strike had gained so much support that Springfield had now erupted into a full blown general strike. nnAccording to the Sangamon County Historical Society, thousands of “union members shut down mines, railroads, bakeries, restaurants, laundries and construction sites… following the violent crackdown of a pro-labor march by state police and militia.” That march had been scheduled for September 9. nnThe unions hoped to show support for the striking streetcar men after a number of clashes between strikers and state militia. After they were denied a permit, many of the 50 or so unions decided to march anyway, and were attacked. Some were shot, more than 40 suffered bayonet-inflicted injuries. nnBy the 11th, most everyone in Springfield had walked off the job. Striking women shoe factory workers stopped a streetcar, pulling the scab drivers off by force. By the end of the week, as many as 12,000 members of 34 unions in the city were on strike. nnWhen telephone operators walked off the job, they paralyzed communications of the scab streetcar drivers and the State National Guardsmen. The streetcar strikers refused to meet with the governor until troops were withdrawn from the city. nThe governor insisted disloyal, pro-German forces were at fault for the “labor troubles.” nnBy the 16th, the streetcar men agreed to negotiate and the general strike was called off. But the company refused to meet striker demands for recognition and higher wages or even to take them back.