Today in Labor History, March 30, 1856: The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War. This was one of the first wars utilizing modern weapons, like explosive shells, trains and telegraphs. It was also a really deadly war. Between 350,000 and 420,000 people died in only four years. There were many war profiteers, particularly the Nobel family. For more on Alfred Nobel, see “The Merchant of Death,” (coming soon).
March 30, 1918: Chicago stockyard workers won the 8-hour day.
March 30, 1918: The “March Events” began. Russian and Armenia Bolsheviks slaughtered over 12,000 Muslim Azerbaijanis during the bloody week-long takeover of Baku.
Today in Labor History, March 30, 1930: Hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers demonstrated in thirty cities. 35,000 marched in New York City, alone. And they were assaulted by the police. There was no unemployment insurance in those days. The ruling elite feared that workers would choose the dole over work if given the choice. So, they opposed unemployment insurance. The AFL also opposed unemployment insurance because it saw itself as the representative of skilled workers only. It didn’t care about unskilled factory workers.
March 30, 1930: Mostly African-American workers began construction on the Hawks Nest Tunnel in West Virginia. The employer refused to provide safety equipment. Consequently, hundreds of workers died of silicosis.
Today in Labor History, March 30, 1970: The United Farm Workers signed the first table grape contract with two growers.
March 30, 1990: Harry Bridges died at age 88. He helped found the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and led the union for forty years. Bridges was born in Australia in 1901 and moved to the U.S. in 1920. He joined the IWW in 1921 (see the Haywire Mac Story) and participated in an unsuccessful nationwide seamen’s strike. In 1922, he moved to San Francisco, to become a longshoreman. His militancy won him considerable support and he was soon elected a leader of the new longshoremen’s union. He helped lead the 1935 San Francisco General Strike. This was one of the last General Strikes to occur in the U.S. because the Taft-Hartley Act banned them in 1947. One of Bridge’s most famous quotes was, “The most important word in the language of the working class is solidarity.”