Solidarity is not a matter of altruism. Solidarity comes from the inability to tolerate the affront to our own integrity of passive or active collaboration in the oppression of others, and from the deep recognition of our most expansive self-interest. From the recognition that, like it or not, our liberation is bound up with that of every other being on the planet, and that politically, spiritually, in our heart of hearts we know anything else is unaffordable.
– Aurora Levins Morales
In 1868 the first federal eight-hour-day law passes; applies only to laborers, mechanics, and workmen employed by the government.
In 1886 seven workers killed by state militia while on peaceful march for establishing the eight-hour day (Wisconsin’s worst labor violence).
That day dawned after four days of massive worker demonstrations throughout Milwaukee on behalf of the creation of eight-hour day laws. As some 1,500 workers marched toward the Bay View Rolling Mills (then the area’s biggest manufacturer) urging the workers thereto join the marches, the State Militia lined up on a hill, guns poised. The marchers were ordered t o stop form some 200 yards away; when they didn’t, the militiamen fired into the crowd, killing seven persons. The marchers dispersed and the eight-hour days marches ended.
In 1914, wives and children of striking miners are set aflame when national guardsmen attack their tent colony during a strike against the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company; event referred to as the Ludlow Massacre.
In 1935, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) was founded in Madison, Wisconsin.
In 1949, an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 directly prohibited child labor for the first time.
In 1959 the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (Wisconsin statute 111.70) passed in Wisconsin, making the state one of first in nation to recognize right of public employees to organize and bargain collectively. Later, 111.80 was added, giving rights to organize to Wisconsin teachers.
In 1981 Most of the nation’s air traffic controllers fired by President Reagan.
For more on the history of the Labor Movement in Wisconsin you can visit the Wisconsin Historical Society website.
(Right-to-Work laws) are a virtual conspiracy of the crafty, the ignorant, or the misguided to subvert industrial peace, exploit men’s need to work and deluge the community with industrial irresponsibility. ‘Right-to-Work’ laws do not create jobs; they only victimize the worker and make his organization ineffective.
Reverend Dr. Walter George Muelder, educator, economist, ethicist, dean of Boston University School of Theology