On This Day, Aug 31, 1980 – Gdansk Shipyard Strike Comes to an End
1980 – Poland’s Solidarity labor movement was born with an agreement signed in Gdansk that ended a 17-day strike.
Established in September of 1980 at the Gdansk shipyards, Solidarity was an independent labour union instrumental in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, and the primary catalyst that would transform Poland from a repressive communist satellite to the EU member democracy it is today. The Solidarity movement received international attention, spreading anti-communist ideas and inspiring political action throughout the rest of the Communist Bloc, and its influence in the eventual fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe cannot be understated or dismissed.
Solidarity’s cohesion and initial success, like that of other dissident movements, was not created overnight, nor the result of any specific event or grievance. Rather, the emergence of Solidarity as a political force in Poland was spurred by governmental and economic difficulties that had continued to deepen over the course of an entire decade.
In Gdansk, at the then ‘Lenin Shipyards’, the shipyard workers were unified by the additional outrage of Anna Walentynowicz’s firing. The dismissal of Walentynowicz – a popular crane-operator and activist, combined with the previous firing of Lech Walesa – an outspoken electrician, galvanised the workers into taking action. A strike began on August 14th, led by Walesa, who gave voice to the workers’ demands for the legalisation of independent labour unions, the raising of a monument to the 80 workers brutally murdered in a 1970 labour dispute in Gdansk, and the rehiring of both Walesa and Walentynowicz.
Despite nation-wide censorship and the severance of all phone connections between Gdansk and the rest of the country, several underground presses succeeded in covering the story and spreading the shipyard workers’ message throughout Poland and the Eastern Bloc. On August 16th, several other strike committees joined the Gdansk shipyard workers and the following day 21 demands of the unified strike committee were put forward. These demands went far beyond the scope of local concern, calling for the legal formation of independent trade unions, an end to media censorship, the right to strike, new rights for the Church, the freeing of political prisoners, and improvements in the national health system.
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1852 – The first pre-stamped envelopes were created with legislation by Congress.
1887 – The kinetoscope was patented by Thomas Edison. The device was used to produce moving pictures.
1920 – The first news program to be broadcast on radio was aired. The station was 8MK in Detroit, MI.
1935 – The act of exporting U.S. arms to belligerents was prohibited by an act signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1940 – Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh were married.
1941 – The radio program “The Great Gildersleeve” made its debut on NBC.
1946 – Superman returned to radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System after being dropped earlier in the year.
1950 – Gil Hodges of the Brooklyn Dodgers hit four home runs in a single game off of four different pitchers.
1959 – Sandy Koufax set a National League record by striking out 18 batters.
1962 – The Caribbean nations Tobago and Trinidad became independent within the British Commonwealth.
1964 – California officially became the most populated state in America.
1965 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development was created by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
1981 – The 30-year contract between Milton Berle and NBC-TV expired.
1989 – Great Britain’s Princess Anne and Mark Phillips announced that they were separating. The marriage was 16 years old.
1990 – East and West Germany signed a treaty that meant the harmonizing of political and legal systems.
1991 – Uzbekistan and Kirghiziz declared their independence from the Soviet Union. They were the 9th and 10th republics to announce their plans to secede.
1991 – In a “Solidarity Day” protest hundreds of thousands of union members marched in Washington, DC.
1994 – A cease-fire was declared by the Irish Republican Army after 25 years of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.
1998 – A ballistic missile was fired over Japan by North Korea. The missile landed in stages in the waters around Japan. There was no known target.
Source: On-This-Day.com; local-life.com