Today in labor history, May 17, 2004: Starbucks baristas in New York City sign cards demanding representation by the Industrial Workers of the World. The Starbucks Workers Union, affiliated with the IWW, continues to fight for higher wages, better working conditions, regular hours of work, and health coverage for Starbucks workers.
Today in labor history, May 16, 1938: The U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in the case of NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co., permitting employers to permanently replace striking workers. The court said that management could not fire strikers, but could “permanently replace” them. The United States remains one of the few countries in the world where it is legal for strikers to lose their jobs.
Today in labor history, May 14, 1931: Striking sawmill workers in Adalen, Sweden, march to the mills to protest the fact that scabs were brought in to break their strike. Soldiers sent to protect the strikebreakers opened fire on the workers, killing five people. The next day, a general strike was called in Adalen and 80,000 people demonstrated in Stockholm to protest the shootings.
Today in labor history, May 10, 1869: Six years after the groundbreaking, workers complete the First Transcontinental Railroad, which joined the Union Pacific Railroad (built east from Sacramento) and the Central Pacific Railroad (built west from Omaha). The railroad was built primarily by Irish and Chinese immigrant laborers.