Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

Recalling events that happened on this day in history.
Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.

Compiled by Ulli Diemer

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May 8, 1920
Birth of Harry Rankin (1920-2002), Canadian socialist, lawyer and politician.
May 8, 1934  
Start of the first Remington Rand strike. The strike starts after workers organize a union at the Remington Rand typewriter company. The company categorically refuses to recognize the union or bargain, causing the company’s 6,500 workers to go out on strike. The company does finally recognize the union in June 1936, and signs a contract, but then immediately sets out to destroy the union, leading to another bitter strike.
The strike is notorious for originating the “Mohawk Valley formula,” a corporate plan to break strikes by discrediting union leaders, instigating violence, using local police and hired thugs to intimidate strikers, form puppet associations of “loyal employees”, fortify workplaces, employ large numbers of scabs, and threaten to close the plant if workers don’t submit to company demands. Company president James Rand Jr. spells out the anti-union strategy in a pamphlet which is widely distributed by the National Association of Manufacturers, and then put into practice by other companies.
In March 1937, the National Labor Relations Board, normally pro-employer, renders a decision finding the company guilty of violating federal labour law. The NLRB orders the company to recognize the union and reinstate strikers it has fired with back pay. The company fights the decision all the way to the Supreme Court. It finally complies with the orders in 1940.
Related Topics: Strikes: United States
May 8 - 9, 1945  
Germany surrenders to the allies, bringing the Second World War in Europe to an end.
Related Topics: German History/WWIIWorld War II
May 8, 1972  
The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) burn down a barn in which a separatist group in Quebec is planning to meet, in order to prevent the meeting from taking place.
May 8, 1974  
Seventeen million railway workers go on strike in India: probably the largest single strike of all time. The workers are asking for better pay, improved working conditions, and more reasonable hours of work (the union’s demand is to reduce the working day to 12 hours.
Indira Gandhi’s government reacts with brutal repression. Thousands of workers are imprisoned, thousands more are fired. The strike ends in defeat on May 27.
Related Topics: IndiaStrikebreakingStrikes

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