Today in labor history: Striking and saving lives

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January 23 is, like most days, a day to remember in labor history.

In 1913 on this date some 10,000 clothing workers went on strike in Rochester, N.Y., for the eight-hour day, a 10-percent wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Parades were held all day throughout the clothing district and there was at least one instance of mounted police charging the crowd of strikers and arresting 25 picketers.

 Six people were wounded and one worker, 18-year-old Ida Breiman, was shot to death by a sweatshop contractor. The strike was called off in April after manufacturers agreed not to discriminate against workers for joining a union.

With the back side of the polar vortex plunging the northern half of the U.S. into bitter arctic cold it is particularly appropriate this Jan. 23 to remember the heroism of 20 workers in snowbound Maryland on Jan. 23, 1936.

In Allegany County, Md. workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal era public works program, were  snowbound at Fifteen Mile Creek Camp, S-53, when they received a distress call about a woman in labor who needed to get to a hospital.

Proving the value of public service workers, some 20 courageous CCC workers volunteered to dig through miles of snow drifts until the woman was successfully able to be transported to the hospital  where her baby was safely brought into the world.

Photo: 1913 Rochester garment workers strike. Wikimedia (CC)

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