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Labor Day became an official federal holiday in 1894, thanks to President Grover Cleveland. At its core is the celebration of ordinary workers on this day.
But listen labor Day And what comes to your mind? Grilled hot dogs, late summer? Maybe a new semester sale?
Claude Lena Harold, a professor of history at the University of Virginia, said:
According to history and labor scholars, three moments of labor history in particular are at the heart of American history, the modern labor movement, and today’s workplace.
“There are lessons we can learn from the past as we face the challenges of rising wage and income inequality and dangerous working conditions in the midst of COVID,” Harold told NPR.
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1911: Triangle Shirt West Factory Fire
The early 1900s were a period of major industrialization, and factory work became a common task often performed by young migrant workers, especially women.
NS Triangle Shirt Waist Factory New York has become one of the most deadly industrial disasters in US history. The tragedy that took place there on March 25, 1911 marked a major turning point in labor history and helped establish modern workplace safety standards.
The factory occupies the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of Asheville in Manhattan, and employees struggled 12 hours a day with low wages.
A few years before the fire, garment workers in the city went on strike to improve workplace conditions and wages. Many factories have reached collective bargaining agreements with workers and have improved their condition, but the Triangle Shirt West factory has not.
On March 25th, after the working day, a fire broke out on the 8th floor. With a spare cloth bucket and shirt hanging from the ceiling, the flames quickly spread to the upper floors, forcing the workers to desperately leave.
However, the door to the stairwell was locked. This was a common practice at the time, allowing bosses to prevent suspicion of unauthorized damage or theft. The foreman, who had the key to unlock the door, managed to escape, leaving hundreds of people behind.
Workers succumbed to smoke and flames or jumped down the street through the tall windows of the building. That day, 146 garment workers, 123 women and girls, and 23 men died. Most of the victims were recent Italian or Jewish immigrants.
The horror of fire has led to legislation aimed at improving safety standards at factories in New York. It also helped establish a monitoring agency with the authority to investigate working conditions. Frances Perkins, who later served as Secretary of Labor for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, will lead the agency.
“We have benefited from this struggle in many ways,” Harold said of the Triangle Shirt West Factory fire. “At this moment of the COVID pandemic, the Triangle West fire and subsequent political struggles are very important moments to remember now, when so many conversations are now focused on wages, working conditions and safety. . “
1935: The United States passes the labor law “Magna Carta”
“In the 1930s, we see a solution to what many labor historians call labor problems. What is our country’s balance between corporate necessity and labor democracy? Can you take it like that? “said Professor Lane Wyndham of Georgetown University.
For the last decade, the country has been suffering from the Great Depression. Workers are beginning to look to protect unions and workplaces to improve their stations, Wyndham said. The last decade has been a monument to workers’ rights.
In 1935, Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York began drafting what would become the National Labor Relations Act.
It is known as the “Magna Carta of Labor,” Harold said.
It gives workers the right to organize. NLRA will also establish a National Labor Relations Board with executive authority to protect the right to organize and recognize employee unions. The law prohibits unfair labor practices such as blacklisting, strikes and discriminatory dismissals.
Approximately a year after Roosevelt signed the law, working-class organizations generally took off, especially among black, white, Native American, and female workers in the South, Harold said. By the end of World War II, more than 12 million workers I belonged to a union.
Decades later, the law was amended Include more workers in professional sports and non-profit hospitals and nursing homes. But importantly, agricultural and domestic workers are jobs often performed by black and Latin workers and are still excluded from the NLRA and are not allowed to be organized for collective bargaining purposes. Hmm.
Even today, unions are trying to expand domestic labor law. Protect the right to organize the law — The only greatest legislative priority of the labor movement in this parliament.
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1981: Reagan fires an impressive air traffic controller
Ileen DeVault, a professor of labor history at Cornell University, said that even in the 1970s, employers seemed to have great respect for the NLRA.
“At the time, it was pretty unprecedented to fire a striker and instead bring a strikebreaker,” she said.
It was up to the 1981 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association (PATCO) strike.
Betman / Betman Archive
About 13,000 air traffic controllers on August 3, 40 years ago I quit my job After negotiations with the federal government on wages and working hours, it proved to be futile.
Former trade union president himself, President Ronald Reagan, called the strike illegal and threatened to dismiss workers who did not return to work within 48 hours.
Reagan carried out the threat two days later when he fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers who did not return to work. He also declared a lifetime ban on striker reemployment by the Federal Aviation Administration.
DeVault says this was one of the most devastating blows to organized labor.
“After the US president made this move towards workers, private sector employers began to follow in his footsteps,” she said. Workers began to fear blows and unity because of concerns about their work.
Decades later, 10.8% of US workers belonged to unions, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.. This is about half of 1983, the first year that comparable data was available.
Three important moments of history to remember this Worker’s Day: NPR
Source link Three important moments of history to remember this Worker’s Day: NPR