On 11 March 2013, SLAM and 70 percent of the approximately 112 nonmanagerial workers at the DoubleTree (housekeepers, banquet servers, front desk agents, van drivers, and Scullers Jazz Club employees) filed a petition stating their desire to be able to decide without the influence of hotel management whether or not to join Unite Here, which already represented Harvard’s dining hall employees.
The St. Albans Cooperative Creamery was a farmer/member-owned milk-processing plant in St. Albans, Vermont (VT) in the United States with a supplying base of 360 farms. Ray Brands owned one of these farms—called Deer Valley Farm—and on 15 May 2014, two immigrant workers at his farm quit due to poor living conditions and Brands’ withholding of paychecks. Earlier that May, another worker quit for the same reasons.
On 19 September 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the city of Atlanta the contract to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) believed that by hosting the Olympics, Atlanta would be able to reinvent itself as an international city, and investment in the Games would help fuel urban development. The Committee leaned on the city of Atlanta’s strong civil rights history to secure the bid.
From 1943 to 1982, Escambia Treating Company (ETC) operated in Pensacola, Florida. Located in an industrial/residential zone, the location of a wood treatment facility threatened the health of Escambia County residents, who were primarily Black. Until the mid-1950s, ETC dumped creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP) into an uncovered pit. In March 1992, community members founded Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE) and launched a five-year campaign for relocation of the 358 households closest to the Escambia plant.
In the early 1950s, Royal Dutch/Shell purchased land in the community of Diamond, Louisiana and built a chemical plant. Margie Richard, a Black resident of Diamond, founded Concerned Citizens of Norco (CCN) in 1989 after two large-scale accidents at the Shell/Motiva Chemical plant. A pipeline explosion in 1973 killed two Diamond residents, while another event in 1988 killed seven workers.
In 2012, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) voted to “phase-out” Walter Dyett High School, the only open-enrollment high school in the African-American south side neighborhood of Bronzeville, due to poor academic performance. Opponents of the closing said that CPS and Mayor Emanuel had caused this poor performance by cutting Dyett’s funding. The decision to shut the school came amidst a series of closures throughout the CPS system that disproportionately affected poor, black neighborhoods.
On 1 June 1966, growing disputes between farmworkers and the owners of
melon farms in the Rio Grande valley in South Texas culminated in a
strike. Four hundred farm workers had voted in favor of a strike against
their employers at La Casita melon farm. It was the height of melon
season. Eugene Nelson, who had worked as a farm worker and author as
well as an organizer with the National Farm Workers’ Association, led
these workers to strike and organized them into the Independent Workers’
Association. Their organization, based in Rio Grande City in Starr
On 12 February 1960, nearly two weeks after sit-ins at Greensboro, North Carolina (the Greensboro Four) began, over 100 students at the historically black school Barber-Scotia College started sit-ins in the lunch counter at Belk’s department store and three other lunch counters in Concord, North Carolina. In addition to sit-ins, the students organized pray-ins, where they gathered for prayer in public areas and places reserved for whites. Aside from white teenage hecklers, the students did not face much initial repression.
On 18 February 1960, the High Point Biracial Committee was formed to ease racial tensions in High Point. As the group gained more legitimacy, more facilities desegregated thanks in part to negotiations between the committee and city officials. By 1963, nearly all government and public institutions were integrated. The remaining stronghold of segregation was privately-owned buildings such the town theaters.
High Point, North Carolina was a city viewed as progressive on racial relations, but the black community felt alienated as nearly all of High Point’s public institutions were segregated.
On 1 February 1960, a group of four college students began a sit-in at a Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. News spread quickly to High Point, about 16 miles away.
The Empire Zinc Company owned a company town and zinc mines in Silver City, New Mexico, a part of Grant County. On 17 October 1950, the area's Local 890 chapter of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers decided to strike, demanding an end to discriminatory working conditions and the dual wage system of two-tiered pay, different for Mexican and Mexican American workers as compared to white workers.
By spring 1967 some of the legal barriers to racial equality in the U.S. had been struck down. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities and women, in workplaces and in facilities that serve the general public. The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discrimination in voting.
The Great Hawai'i' Sugar Strike was launched against the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association and the “Big Five” companies in 1946. The “Big Five” were made up of a handful of corporate elite companies: Alexander & Baldwin, American Factors, Castle & Cooke, C. Brewer, and Theo. Davies. They exercised complete control over Hawai'i's sugar plantation workers and the majority of the island’s multi-ethnic workforces.
The United States has a visa program called the H-2B visa. It allows employers to hire foreigners and let them come temporarily to work in the United States, usually for a one-time or peak load basis. This program has repeatedly been criticized for allowing employers to take advantage of guest workers, and in response, the U.S. Congress passed the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act in June of 2011.
The United States has a visa program called the H-2B visa. It allows employers to hire foreigners and let them come temporarily to work in the United States, usually for a one-time or peak load basis. The program was being expanded and supported in 2006, and Signal International, LLC (a subcontractor of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation), which works with oil rigs in Southern Gulf Coast of the US and in Texas, asked to hire around 550 Indian metalworkers to repair damage done after Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) began what would become a 6-year campaign against Chipotle for fair food and farmworker rights. The CIW, “a membership-led farmworker organization of mostly Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida,” had been organizing in Immokalee since 1993. Over time, they have won historic campaigns.
In the 1950s the Eisenhower administration enacted the Relocation and Termination programs in regard to American Indian federal policy. The first part meant that Native Americans were to relocate from their respective reservations into big cities. In doing this, Native Americans would lose the unity of the immediate communities as they individually integrated as citizens into separate cities. Meanwhile, the reservation lands would be liquidated into the hands of the federal government. The second part, termination, was a broader result of the relocation.
After the occupation of Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971, and subsequent forcible removal of American Indians by the United States government, the movement for civil rights for Native Americans became increasingly determined, firm, and conflictual. The government responded to this shift with exceedingly vigorous and sometimes fatal tactics. By 1979, some researchers and scholars had deemed the period the “continuing Indian Wars”.
From its start in 1870, Mexican labor was essential to the Clifton-Morenci mine in Eastern Arizona. Founding prospectors Clifton and Metcalf quickly sold the rights to the Longfellow Copper Mining Company. The copper smelter was highly productive during its early decades, especially after multiple railroad lines intersected with the area, many of which were able to transport copper. The area quickly began acting as a magnet for Mexican and Chinese labor, which created political tension in the Arizona Territory and also some minor disputes among workers.
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
The Jim Crow laws had been in full effect for quite some time before the 1950s era of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The city, like most cities in the South, had laws regarding racial segregation. A major aspect of the city’s laws was the seating policy on the city’s buses. Black residents were restricted to sitting in a designated “colored section” located at the back of the bus while the front of the bus was reserved for white passengers. Over two-thirds of the buses’ passengers were black and consequently, many blacks stood up on the bus while empty seats were available in front of them.
In 1957 A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin initiated a campaign to pressure the U.S. government to intervene for the civil rights of African Americans.
Randolph, 68, was the acknowledged “elder” among civil rights leaders, with a base in the labor movement. Rustin, 57, was a veteran civil rights and peace activist who had coached Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
The 1941 March on Washington campaign, precursor of the 1963 March on Washington, was an important moment in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. The proposal for a nationwide mass demonstration for a greater black share in the defense effort had been put forth in January 1941, but it wasn’t until the spring of 1941 that A. Philip Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), called for a march on Washington, D. C., to challenge the discrimination that African Americans were faced with in the national defense industry.
On February 12, 1968, sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, began a labor strike to protest unfair wages, unsafe working conditions, and the city’s refusal to recognize their sanitation workers union.