article
Labor Issues
February 22, 2016

This Week in Labor History

Source: NYSUT Program Services

July 19
Women's Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, N.Y.  Delegates adopt a Declaration of Women's Rights and call for women's suffrage — 1848
 
An amendment to the 1939 Hatch Act, a federal law whose main provision prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, is amended to also cover state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds — 1940.
 
July 20
New York City newsboys, many so poor they were sleeping in the streets, begin a two-week strike. Several rallies drew more than 5,000 newsboys, complete with charismatic speeches by strike leader Kid Blink, who was blind in one eye. The boys had to pay publishers up front for the newspapers; they were successful in forcing publishers to buy back unsold papers — 1899.
 
Postal unions, Postal Service sign first labor contract in the history of the federal government — the year following an unauthorized strike by 200,000 postal workers — 1971.
 
July 21
Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers "a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread" — 1877.
 
A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich., is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot and dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human — 1984.
 
July 22
Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, six-day week and a board of arbitration — 1886.
 
A bomb was set off during a "Preparedness Day" parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Tom Mooney, a labor organizer, and Warren Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted of the crime; both were pardoned 23 years later — 1916.
 
July 23
Anarchist Alexander Berkman shoots and stabs steel magnate Henry Clay Frick. The assassination attempt was an effort to avenge the Homestead massacre 18 days earlier, in which nine strikers were killed. Berkman also tried to use what was, in effect, a suicide bomb, but it didn't detonate — 1892.
 
From www.unionist.com .
July 10
Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and civil rights activist, born – 1875
 
Some 14,000 federal and state troops finally succeed in putting down the strike against the Pullman Palace Car Co., which had been peaceful until July 5, when federal troops intervened in Chicago, against the repeated protests of the governor and Chicago’s mayor. A total of 34 American Railway Union members were killed by troops over the course of the strike – 1894
 
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce holds a mass meeting of more than 2,000 merchants to organize what was to become a frontal assault on union strength and the closed shop. The failure of wages to keep up with inflation after the 1906 earthquake had spurred multiple strikes in the city – 1916
 
Sidney Hillman dies at age 59. He led the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, was a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and was a close advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1946
 
July 11
Striking coal miners in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, dynamite barracks housing Pinkerton management thugs – 1892
 
After seven years of labor by as many as 2,800 construction workers, the Triborough Bridge opens in New York. Actually a complex of three bridges, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. Construction began on Black Friday in 1929 and New Deal money turned it into one of the largest public works projects of the Great Depression – 1936
 
July 12
Bisbee, Ariz., deports Wobblies; 1,186 miners sent into desert in manure-laden boxcars. They had been fighting for improved safety and working conditions – 1917
 
July 14
Woody Guthrie, writer of "This Land is Your Land" and "Union Maid," born in Okemah, Okla. – 1912
 
From www.unionist.com .


July 3
Children, employed in the silk mills in Paterson, N.J., go on strike for 11-hour day and 6-day week. A compromise settlement resulted in a 69-hour work week – 1835
 
Feminist and labor activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman born in Hartford, Conn. Her landmark study, "Women and Economics," was radical: It called for the financial independence of women and urged a network of child care centers – 1860
 
July 4
Building trades workers lay the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. The WTC had been leveled by a terrorist attack three years earlier. Nearly 3,000 died at the WTC and in other attacks in the eastern U.S. on the same day – 2004
 
July 5
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the National Labor Relations Act – 1935
 
July 6
Rail union leader Eugene V. Debs is arrested during the Pullman strike, described by the New York Times as "a struggle between the greatest and most important labor organization and the entire railroad capital" that involved some 250,000 workers in 27 states at its peak – 1894
 
July 7
Striking New York longshoremen meet to discuss ways to keep new immigrants from scabbing. They were successful, at least for a time. On July 14, 500 newly arrived Jews marched straight from their ship to the union hall. On July 15, 250 Italian immigrants stopped scabbing on the railroad and joined the union – 1882
 
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones begins "The March of the Mill Children” when, accompanied part of the way by children, she walked from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt's home on Long Island to protest the plight of child laborers. One of her demands: Reduce the children’s work week to 55 hours – 1903
 
July 8
Labor organizer Ella Reeve "Mother" Bloor born on Staten Island. Among her activities: investigating child labor in glass factories and mines, and working undercover in meat packing plants to verify for federal investigators the nightmarish working conditions that author Upton Sinclair had revealed in The Jungle – 1862
 
The Pacific Mail Steamship Co. fires all employees who had been working an 8-hour day, then joins with other owners to form the "Ten-Hour League Society" for the purpose of uniting all mechanics "willing to work at the old rates, neither unjust to the laborers nor ruinous to the capital and enterprise of the city and state." The effort failed – 1867
 
Founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W., or Wobblies) concludes in Chicago. Charles O. Sherman, a former American Federation of Labor organizer, is elected president – 1905
 
From www.unionist.com .
June 19
Eight-hour work day adopted for federal employees – 1912
 
June 20
Henry Ford recognizes the United Auto Workers, signs contract for workers at River Rouge plant – 1941
 
The Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act, curbing strikes, is vetoed by President Harry S. Truman. The veto was overridden three days later by a Republican-controlled Congress – 1947
 
Evelyn Dubrow, described by the New York Times as organized labor's most prominent lobbyist at the time of its greatest power, dies at age 95. The Int’l Ladies' Garment Workers Union lobbyist once told the Times that "she trudged so many miles around Capitol Hill that she wore out 24 pairs of her size 4 shoes each year." She retired at age 86 – 2006
 
June 21
In England, a compassionate parliament declares that children can't be required to work more than 12 hours a day. And they must have an hour’s instruction in the Christian religion every Sunday and not be required to sleep more than two in a bed – 1802
 
The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of unions to publish statements urging members to vote for a specific congressional candidate, ruling that such advocacy is not a violation of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act – 1948
 
June 23
Charles Moyer, president of the Western Federation of Miners, goes to Butte, Mont. in an attempt to mediate a conflict between factions of the miner’s local there. It didn’t go well. Gunfight in the union hall killed one man; Moyer and other union officers left the building, which was then leveled in a dynamite blast – 1914
 
Congress overrides President Harry Truman's veto of the anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act. The law weakened unions and let states exempt themselves from union requirements. Twenty states immediately enacted open shop laws and more followed – 1947
 
June 25
Fair Labor Standards Act passes Congress, banning child labor and setting the 40-hour work week – 1938
 
From www.unionist.com .
June 6
Labor Party founding convention opens in Cleveland, Ohio — 1996
 
June 7
The United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club announce the formation of a strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda under the banner of Good Jobs, A Clean Environment, and A Safer World — 2006
 
June 8
The earliest recorded strike by Chinese immigrants to the U.S. occurred when stonemasons, who were brought to San Francisco to build the three-story Parrott granite building — made from Chinese prefabricated blocks — struck for higher pay — 1852
 
New York City drawbridge tenders, in a dispute with the state over pension issues, leave a dozen bridges open, snarling traffic in what the Daily News described as "the biggest traffic snafu in the city's history" — 1971
 
June 9
Helen Marot is born in Philadelphia to a wealthy family. She went on to organize the Bookkeepers, Stenographers and Accountants Union in New York, and to organize and lead the city's 1909-1910 Shirtwaist Strike. In 1912, she was a member of a commission investigating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire — 1865
 
June 10
U.S. Supreme Court rules in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. that preliminary work activities, where controlled by the employer and performed entirely for the employer's benefit, are properly included as working time. The decision is known as the "portal to portal case" — 1946
 
President Kennedy signs a law mandating equal pay to women who are performing the same jobs as men (Equal Pay Act) — 1963
 
June 11
John L. Lewis dies. A legendary figure, he was president of the United Mine Workers from 1920 to 1960 and a driving force behind the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations — 1969
 
From www.unionist.com
May 30
The Ford Motor Company signs a "Technical Assistance" contract to produce cars in the Soviet Union, and Ford workers were sent to the Soviet Union to train the labor force in the use of its parts. Many American workers who made the trip, including Walter Reuther, a tool and die maker who later was to become the UAW's president, returned home with a different view of the duties and privileges of the industrial laborer. — 1929
 
The Ground Zero cleanup at the site of the World Trade Center is completed three months ahead of schedule due to the heroic efforts of more than 3,000 building tradesmen and women who worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week in the previous eight months. — 2002
 
May 31
Rose Will Monroe, popularly known as Rosie the Riveter, dies in Clarksville, Ind. During WWII she helped bring women into the labor force. — 1997
 
June 1
Congress passes the Erdman Act, providing for voluntary mediation or arbitration of railroad disputes and prohibiting contracts that discriminate against union labor or release employers from legal liability for on-the-job injuries. — 1898
 
Extinguishing the light of hope in the hearts and aspirations of workers around the world, the Mexican government abolishes siestas — a mid-afternoon nap and work break which lengthened the work day but got people through brutally hot summer days. — 1944
 
June 2
Twenty-six journeymen printers in Philadelphia stage the trade’s first strike in America over wages: a cut in their $6 weekly pay. — 1786
 
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that President Harry Truman acted illegally when he ordered the Army to seize the nation’s steel mills to avert a strike. — 1952
 
June 4
Massachusetts becomes the first state to establish a minimum wage. — 1912
 
The House of Representatives approves the Taft-Hartley Act. The legislation allows the president of the United States to intervene in labor disputes. President Truman vetoed the law but was overridden by Congress. — 1947
 
The AFL-CIO opens its new headquarters building, in view of the White House — 1956
 
Gov. Jerry Brown signs the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the first law in the U.S. giving farmworkers collective bargaining rights. The legislation came after years of effort by the United Farm Workers union. — 1975

May 22
President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the goals of his Great Society social reforms: to bring "an end to poverty and racial injustice" in America – 1964
 
May 23
An estimated 100,000 textile workers, including more than 10,000 children, strike in the Philadelphia area. Among the issues: 60-hour workweeks, including night hours, for the children – 1903
 
The Battle of Toledo begins today: a five-day running battle between roughly 6,000 strikers at the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard. Two strikers died and more than 200 were injured. The battle began in the sixth week of what ultimately became a successful two-month fight for union recognition and higher pay. One guardsman told a Toledo Blade reporter: "Our high school graduation is... tonight and we were supposed to be getting our diplomas" – 1934
 
May 24
After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York's East River opens. Newspapers call it "the eighth wonder of the world" – 1883
 
May 25
Striking shoemakers in Philadelphia are arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy for violating an English common law that bars schemes aimed at forcing wage increases. The strike was broken – 1805
 
They built a shantytown near the U.S. Capitol but were burned out by U.S. troops after two months – 1932
 
The notorious 11-month Remington Rand strike begins. The strike spawned the "Mohawk Valley (N.Y.) formula," described by investigators as a corporate plan to discredit union leaders, frighten the public with the threat of violence, employ thugs to beat up strikers, and other tactics. The National Labor Relations Board termed the formula "a battle plan for industrial war" – 1936
 
May 26
Men and women weavers in Pawtucket, R.I., stage nation's first "co-ed" strike – 1824
 
Western Federation of Miners members strike for 8-hour day, Cripple Creek, Colo. – 1894
 
Some 100,000 steel workers and miners in mines owned by steel companies strike in seven states. The Memorial Day Massacre, in which ten strikers were killed by police at Republic Steel in Chicago, took place four days later, on May 30 – 1937
 
May 27
The U.S. Supreme Court declares the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional, about a month before it was set to expire – 1935
 
May 28
The Ladies Shoe Binders Society formed in New York – 1835
 
Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia for dancing the Turkey Trot. They were on their lunch break, but management thought the dance too racy – 1912
 
At least 30,000 workers in Rochester, N.Y., participate in a general strike in support of municipal workers who had been fired for forming a union – 1946
 
From www.unionist.com .
May 15
Pope Leo XIII issues revolutionary encyclical “Rerum novarum” (Of revolutionary change) in defense of workers and the right to organize. Forty years later to the day, Pope Pius XI issues “Quadragesimo anno,” (In the 40th Year) believed by many to be even more radical than Leo XIII’s — 1891
 
U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Samuel Gompers and other union leaders for supporting a boycott at the Buck Stove and Range Co. in St. Louis, where workers were striking for a nine-hour day. A lower court had forbidden the boycott and sentenced the unionists to prison for refusing to obey the judge’s anti-boycott injunction — 1906
 
May 16
U.S. Supreme Court issues Mackay decision, which permits the permanent replacement of striking workers. The decision had little impact until Ronald Reagan’s replacement of striking air traffic controllers (PATCO) in 1981, a move that signaled to anti-union private sector employers that it was OK to do likewise — 1938
 
African-American labor leader and peace activist A. Philip Randolph dies. He was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the first African-American on the AFL-CIO executive board, and a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington — 1979
 
May 17
Supreme Court outlaws segregation in public schools — 1954
 
Twelve Starbucks baristas in a midtown Manhattan store, declaring they couldn’t live on $7.75 an hour, signed cards demanding representation by the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies — 2004
 
May 18
In what might have been baseball’s first labor strike, the Detroit Tigers refuse to play after team leader Ty Cobb is suspended: He went into the stands and beat a fan who had been heckling him. Cobb was reinstated and the Tigers went back to work after the team manager’s failed attempt to replace the players with a local college team: Their pitcher gave up 24 runs — 1912
 
Big Bill Haywood, a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), dies in exile in the Soviet Union — 1928
 
Oklahoma jury finds for the estate of atomic worker Karen Silkwood and orders Kerr-McGee Nuclear Co. to pay $505,000 in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood’s plutonium contamination — 1979
 
May 20
The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers’ rights to form unions — 1926
May 1
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones born in County Cork, Ireland — 1830
 
Eight-hour day demonstration in Chicago and other cities begins tradition of May Day as international labor holiday — 1886
 
Congress enacts amendments to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, extending protections to the employees of state and local governments — protections which didn't take effect until 1985 because of court challenges and regulation-writing problems — 1974
 
Rallies are held in cities across the U.S. for what organizers call "A Day Without Immigrants." An estimated 100,000 immigrants and sympathizers gathered in San Jose, Calif., 200,000 in New York, 400,000 each in Chicago and Los Angeles. In all, there were demonstrations in at least 50 cities — 2006
 
May 2
First Workers' Compensation law in U.S. enacted, in Wisconsin — 1911
 
President Herbert Hoover declares that the stock market crash six months earlier was just a "temporary setback" and the economy would soon bounce back. In fact, the Great Depression was to continue and worsen for several more years — 1930
 
German police units occupy all trade union headquarters in the country, arresting union officials and leaders. Their treasuries were confiscated and the unions abolished. Hitler announced that the German Labour Front, headed by his appointee, would replace all unions and look after the working class — 1933
 
May 3
Four striking workers are killed, at least 200 wounded, when police attack a demonstration on Chicago's south side at the McCormick Harvesting Machine plant. The Haymarket Massacre is to take place the following day – 1886
 
Eugene V. Debs and other leaders of the American Railway Union are jailed for six months for contempt of court in connection with Pullman railroad car strike — 1895
 
Pete Seeger, folksinger and union activist, born in Patterson, N.Y. Among his songs: "If I Had A Hammer" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" - 1919
 
May 4
Haymarket massacre. A bomb is thrown as Chicago police start to break up a rally for strikers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. A riot erupts, 11 police and strikers die, mostly from gunfire, and scores more are injured — 1886
 
May 5
John J. Sweeney, president of the Service Employees International Union from 1980 to 1995, then president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009, born in the Bronx, N.Y. — 1934
 
The U.S. unemployment rate drops to a 30-year low of 3.9 percent; the rate for African-Americans and Hispanics is the lowest since the government started tracking such data — 2000
 
May 6
Works Progress Administration established at a cost of $4.8 billion — more than $80 billion in 2015 dollars — to provide work opportunities for millions during the Great Depression — 1935
 
Four hundred African-American women working as tobacco stemmers walk off the job in a spontaneous revolt against poor working conditions and a $3 weekly wage at the Vaughan Co. in Richmond, Va. — 1937
 
May 7
The Knights of St. Crispin union is formed at a secret meeting in Milwaukee. It grew to 50,000 members before being crushed by employers later that year — 1867
 
From www.unionist.com.


April 24
An eight-story building housing garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapses, killing 1,129 workers and injuring 2,515. A day earlier cracks had been found in the structure, but factory officials, who had contracts with Benneton and other major U.S. labels, insisted the workers return to the job the next day — 2013

April 25
The New York Times declares the struggle for an 8-hour workday to be "un-American" and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours "labor disturbances brought about by foreigners." Other publications declare that an eight-hour workday would bring about "loafing and gambling, rioting, debauchery and drunkenness" — 1886

The Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and 100 others are arrested while picketing a Charleston, S.C., hospital in a demand for union recognition — 1969

Supreme Court rules that employers may not require female employees to make larger contributions to pension plans in order to obtain the same monthly benefits as men — 1978

April 26
The U.S. House of Representatives passes House Joint Resolution No. 184, a constitutional amendment to prohibit the labor of persons under 18 years of age. The Senate approved the measure a few weeks later, but it was never ratified by the states and is still technically pending — 1924

April 27
First strike for 10-hour day, by Boston carpenters — 1825

James Oppenheim's poem "Bread and Roses" published in IWW newspaper Industrial Solidarity — 1911

President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed "sexual perversion" as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants — 1953

April 28
Congress creates OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The AFL-CIO sets April 28 as "Workers Memorial Day" to honor all workers killed or injured on the job every year — 1971

First "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," promoted by the Ms. Foundation, to boost self-esteem of girls with invitations to a parent's workplace — 1993

April 29
Coxey's Army of 500 unemployed civil war veterans reaches Washington, D.C. — 1894

The special representative of the National War Labor Board issues a report, "Retroactive Date for Women's Pay Adjustments," setting forth provisions for wage rates for women working in war industries who were asking for equal pay. Women a year earlier had demanded equal pay for comparable work as that done by men — 1943

April 30
The Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board implements new rules to speed up unionization elections. The new rules are largely seen as a counter to employer manipulation of the law to prevent workers from unionizing — 2012

From www.unionist.com.

April 17
The Supreme Court holds that a maximum-hours law for New York bakery workers is unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 14th amendment — 1905

April 21
New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signs Taylor Law, permitting union organization and bargaining by public employees, but outlawing the right to strike — 1967

April 22
Songwriter, musician and activist Hazel Dickens dies at age 75. Among her songs: “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” and “Working Girl Blues.” Cultural blogger John Pietaro: "Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them. Her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause" — 2011

April 23
United Farm Workers of America founder Cesar Chavez dies in San Luis, Ariz., at age 66 — 1993
April 10
Birth date of Frances Perkins, named secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, becoming the first woman to hold a cabinet-level office — 1880

Birth of Dolores Huerta, a co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers — 1930

Tens of thousands of immigrants demonstrate in 100 U.S. cities in a national day of action billed as a campaign for immigrants’ dignity. Some 200,000 gathered in Washington, D.C. — 2006

April 11
Ford Motor Company signs first contract with United Auto Workers — 1941

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issues regulations prohibiting sexual harassment of workers by supervisors in the workplace — 1980

April 12
Birth of Florence Reece, active in Harlan County, Ky., coal strikes and author of famed labor song “Which Side Are You On?” — 1900

The Union Label and Service Trades Department is founded by the American Federation of Labor. Its mission: Promote the products and services of union members — 1909

The Toledo (Ohio) Auto-Lite strike begins today with 6,000 workers demanding union recognition and higher pay. The strike is notable for a 5-day running battle in late May between the strikers and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard. Known as the "Battle of Toledo," the clash left two strikers dead and more than 200 injured. The 2-month strike, a win for the workers’ union, is regarded by many labor historians as one of the nation’s three most important strikes — 1934

April 13
A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa leads his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Ind., in a successful job action: By refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands. Among other things, the “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32¢ an hour — only if growers arrived with berries to unload. Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger — 1930

Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs is imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I. While in jail, he ran for president and receiving 1 million votes — 1919

April 15
A. Philip Randolph, civil rights leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, born in Crescent City, Fla. — 1889

Eight members of the musicians union die in the sinking of the Titanic. According to survivors, they played their instruments until nearly the end. Five weeks later, a concert organized by the union to benefit the musicians' families, held in a theater donated for the evening by impresario Flo Ziegfeld, featured the talents of 500 musicians. The evening ended with a rendering of "Nearer, My God, to Thee," the hymn being played as the ship went down. The union at the time was called the Musical Mutual Protective Union Local 310, the New York affiliate of the American Federation of Musicians — 1912

Teacher unionists gather at the City Club on Plymouth Court in Chicago to form a new national union: the American Federation of Teachers — 1916

The first McDonald’s restaurant opens in Des Plaines, Ill., setting the stage years later for sociologist Amitai Etzioni to coin the term "McJob." As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, a McJob is "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector" — 1955

April 16
An estimated 20,000 global justice activists blockade Washington, D.C., meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund — 2000


March 20
Michigan authorizes formation of workers’ cooperatives. Thirteen are formed in the state over a 25-year period. Labor reform organizations were advocating "cooperation" over "competitive" capitalism following the Civil War and several thousand cooperatives opened for business across the country during this era. Participants envisioned a world free from conflict where workers would receive the full value of their labor and freely exercise democratic citizenship in the political and economic realms — 1865

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that employers could not exclude women from (the often highest paying) jobs where exposure to toxic chemicals could potentially damage a fetus — 1991

March 21
American Labor Union founded — 1853

March 22
A 32-day lockout of major league baseball players ends with an agreement to raise the minimum league salary from $68,000 to $100,000 and to study revenue-sharing between owners and players — 1990

March 23
Five days into the Post Office’s first mass work stoppage in 195 years, President Nixon declares a national emergency and orders 30,000 troops to New York City to break the strike. The troops didn’t have a clue how to sort and deliver mail: a settlement came a few days later — 1970

March 24
Groundbreaking on the first section of the New York City subway system, from City Hall to the Bronx. According to the New York Times, this was a worker’s review of the digging style of the well-dressed Subway Commissioners: "I wouldn't give th' Commish'ners foive cents a day fer a digging job. They're too shtiff" — 1900

March 25
A total of 146 workers are killed in a fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a disaster that would launch a national movement for safer working conditions — 1911

March 26
San Francisco brewery workers begin a 9-month strike as local employers follow the union-busting lead of the National Brewer’s Association. and fire their unionized workers, replacing them with scabs. Two unionized brewers refused to go along, kept producing beer, prospered wildly and induced the Association to capitulate. A contract benefit since having unionized two years earlier, certainly worth defending: free beer — 1868


From www.unionist.com.
March 13
The term “rat,” referring to a worker who betrays fellow workers, first appears in print in the New York Daily Sentinel. The newspaper was quoting a typesetter while reporting on replacement workers who had agreed to work for two-thirds of the going rate — 1830
 
March 14
Fabled railroad engineer John Luther “Casey” Jones born in southeast Missouri. A member of the Railroad Engineers, he was the sole fatality in a wreck near Vaughan, Miss., on April 29, 1900. His skill and heroics prevented many more deaths — 1863
 
Henry Ford announced the new continuous motion method to assemble cars. The process decreased the time to make a car from 12-and-a-half hours to 93 minutes.  Goodbye, craftsmanship. Hello, drudgery — 1914
 
The movie “Salt of the Earth” opens. The classic film centers on a long and difficult strike led by Mexican-American and Anglo zinc miners in New Mexico. Real miners perform in the film, in which the miners’ wives — as they did in real life — take to the picket lines after the strikers are enjoined — 1954
 
March 15
Official formation of the Painters Int’l Union — 1887
 
Supreme Court approves 8-Hour Act under threat of a national railway strike — 1917
 
March 16
The United Federation of Teachers is formed in New York to represent New York City public school teachers and, later, other education workers in the city — 1960
 
March 18
Six laborers in Dorset, England — the “Tolpuddle Martyrs”— are banished to the Australian penal colony for seven years for forming a union, the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. Some 800,000 residents of the United Kingdom signed petitions calling for their release — 1834
 
The Post Office’s first mass work stoppage in 195 years begins in Brooklyn and Manhattan and spreads to 210,000 of the nation’s 750,000 postal employees. Mail service is virtually paralyzed in several cities and President Nixon declares a state of emergency. A settlement comes after two weeks — 1970
 
From www.unionist.com.
March 6
With the Great Depression underway, hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers demonstrated in some 30 cities and towns; close to 100,000 filled Union Square in New York City and were attacked by mounted police – 1930
 
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the nation’s unemployment rate soared to 8.1 percent in February, the highest since late 1983, as cost-cutting employers slashed 651,000 jobs amid a deepening recession – 2009
 
March 7
Some 6,000 shoemakers, joined by about 20,000 other workers, strike in Lynn, Mass. They won raises, but not recognition of their union – 1860
 
IWW founder and labor organizer Lucy Parsons dies – 1942
 
Musicians strike Broadway musicals and shows go dark when actors and stagehands honor picket lines. The strike was resolved after four days – 2003
 
March 8
Thousands of New York needle trades workers demonstrate for higher wages, shorter workday, and end to child labor. The demonstration became the basis for International Women’s Day – 1908
 
The Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act took effect on this day. It limits the ability of federal judges to issue injunctions against workers and unions involved in labor disputes – 1932
 
March 9
Spurred by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. Congress begins its 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation. Just one of many programs established to help Americans survive the Great Depression: The Civilian Conservation Corps, which put 2.5 million young men on the government payroll to help in national conservation and infrastructure projects – 1933
 
Work begins on the $8 billion, 800-mile-long Alaska Oil pipeline connecting oil fields in northern Alaska to the sea port at Valdez. Tens of thousands of people worked on the pipeline, enduring long hours, cold temperatures and brutal conditions. At least 32 died on the job – 1974
 
March 10
U.S. Supreme Court upholds espionage conviction of labor leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs. Debs was jailed for speaking out against World War I. Campaigning for president from his Atlanta jail cell, he won 3.4 percent of the vote — nearly a million votes – 1919
United Farm Workers leader César Chávez breaks a 24-day fast, by doctor’s order, at a mass in Delano, California’s public park. Several thousand supporters are at his side, including Sen. Robert Kennedy. Chavez called it “a fast for non-violence and a call to sacrifice” – 1968
 
March 11
Luddites smash 63 “labor saving” textile machines near Nottingham, England – 1811
 
March 12
The first tunnel under the Hudson River is completed after 30 years of drilling, connecting Jersey City and Manhattan. In just one of many tragedies during the project, 20 workers died on a single day in 1880 when the tunnel flooded – 1904
 
The Lawrence, Mass., "Bread and Roses" textile strike ends when the American Woolen Co. agrees to most of the strikers’ demands; other textile companies quickly followed suit – 1912
 
Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995, born in Camden, S.C. – 1922
 
 
From www.unionist.com.
 
Feb. 27
Legendary labor leader and socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs becomes charter member and secretary of the Vigo Lodge, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. Five years later, he is leading the national union and in 1893 helps found the nation’s first industrial union, the American Railway Union – 1875
 
Birth of John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif. Steinbeck is best known for writing The Grapes of Wrath, which exposed the mistreatment of migrant farm workers during the Depression and led to some reforms – 1902
 
The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal – 1939
 
Feb. 28
U.S. Supreme Court finds that a Utah state law limiting mine and smelter workers to an 8-hour workday is constitutional – 1898
 
(Actually, Leap Year Feb. 29) The minimum age allowed by law for workers in mills, factories and mines in South Carolina is raised from 12 to 14 – 1915
 
From www.unionist.com.
Feb. 20
Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Mass., organize a “turn-out”— a strike — in protest. The action failed. Two years later, they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson — 1834
 
Feb. 22
Albert Shanker dies at age 68. He served as president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1984 and of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997 — 1997
 
Feb. 23
W.E.B. DuBois, educator and civil rights activist, born — 1868
 
Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” following a frigid trip — partially by hitchhiking, partially by rail — from California to Manhattan. The Great Depression was still raging. Guthrie had heard Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” and resolved to himself: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it” — 1940
 
Feb. 24
Congress passes a federal child labor tax law that imposed a 10 percent tax on companies that employ children, defined as anyone under the age of 16 working in a mine/quarry or under the age 14 in a “mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufacturing establishment.”  The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional three years later — 1919
 
Feb. 25
A crowd estimated to be 100,000 strong rallied at the Wisconsin state Capitol in protest of what was ultimately was to become a successful push by the state’s Republican majority to cripple public employee bargaining rights — 2011
 
Feb. 26
Congress OKs the Contract Labor Law, designed to clamp down on "business agents" who contracted abroad for immigrant labor. One of the reasons unions supported the measure: Employers were using foreign workers to fight against the growing U.S. labor movement, primarily by deploying immigrant labor to break strikes — 1885

From www.unionist.com.
Feb. 13
A national eight-month strike by the Sons of Vulcan, a union of iron forgers, ends in victory when employers agreed to a wage scale based on the price of iron bars—the first time employers recognized the union, the first union contract in the iron and steel industry, and what may be the first union contract of any kind in the United States — 1865

Some 12,000 Hollywood writers returned to work today following a largely successful three-month strike against television and motion picture studios. They won compensation for their TV and movie work that gets streamed on the Internet — 2008

Feb. 14
President Theodore Roosevelt creates the Department of Commerce and Labor. It was divided into two separate government departments ten years later — 1903

Feb. 15
Susan B. Anthony, suffragist, abolitionist, labor activist, born in Adams, Mass. "Join the union, girls, and together say: Equal Pay for Equal Work." — 1820

Feb. 16
Leonora O’Reilly was born in New York. The daughter of Irish immigrants, she began working in a factory at 11, joined the Knights of Labor at 16, and was a volunteer investigator of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. She was a founding member of the Women’s Trade Union League — 1870

All public schools in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc., are closed as teachers call in sick to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights — 2011

Feb. 19
The U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. — the case establishing that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction — 1975
Feb. 6
Philadelphia shirtwaist makers vote to accept arbitration offer and end walkout as Triangle Shirtwaist strike winds down. One year later, 146 workers — mostly young girls aged 13 to 23 — were to die in a devastating fire at Triangle’s New York City sweatshop — 1910
 
Feb. 7
Union miners in Cripple Creek, Colo., begin what is to become a five-month strike that started when mine owners cut wages to $2.50 a day, from $3. The state militia was called out in support of the strikers — the only time in U.S. history that a militia was directed to side with the workers. The strike ended in victory for the union — 1894
 
Feb. 9
U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy falsely charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. It seems that just about everyone else the Wisconsin senator didn’t like was a Communist as well, including scores of unionists. This was the beginning of "McCarthyism." He ultimately was officially condemned by the Senate and died of alcoholism — 1950
 
President Kennedy asks Congress to approve creation of the Medicare program, financed by an increase in Social Security taxes, to aid 14.2 million Americans aged 65 or older — 1961
 
Feb. 11
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is arrested while leading a protest of conditions in West Virginia mines. She was 83 years old at the time — 1913
 
Some 1,300 sanitation workers begin what is to become a 64-day strike in Memphis, ultimately winning union recognition and wage increases. The April 4 assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr., who had been taking an active role in mass meetings and street actions, brought pressure on the city to settle the strike — 1968
 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announces he will call out the National Guard, if necessary, to deal with any "unrest" among state employees in the wake of his decision to unilaterally end nearly all collective bargaining rights for the workers — 2011
 
Feb. 12
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass born into slavery near Easton, Md. — 1818
 
John L. Lewis, president of United Mine Workers of America and founding president of the CIO, born near Lucas, Iowa — 1880
 
 
From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 30
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was elected president of the United States four times starting in 1932. His New Deal programs helped America survive the Great Depression. His legislative achievements included the creation of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to organize unions, bargain collectively and strike — 1882

Jan. 31
Ida M. Fuller is the first retiree to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security law. She paid in $24.75 between 1937 and 1939 on an income of $2,484; her first check was for $22.54 — 1940

Five months after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school board fires every teacher in the district in what the United Teachers of New Orleans sees as an effort to break the union and privatize the school system — 2005

Feb. 1
Led by 23-year-old Kate Mullany, the Collar Laundry Union forms in Troy, N.Y., and raises earnings for female laundry workers from $2 to $14 a week — 1864

Feb. 3
U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act banning child labor and establishing the 40-hour work week — 1941

Feb. 4
Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man launched the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and the birth of the civil rights movement, is born in Tuskegee, Ala. — 1913

President Barack Obama imposes $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with "executives being rewarded for failure" — 2009

Feb. 5
President Bill Clinton signs the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law requires most employers of 50 or more workers to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a family or medical emergency — 1993

From www.unionist.com.


Jan. 23
Some 10,000 clothing workers strike in Rochester, N.Y., for the 8-hour day, a 10-percent wage increase, union recognition and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held 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 over the course of the strike 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 – 1913
 
In Allegany County, Md., workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal-era public works program employing unmarried men aged 18-25, are snowbound at Fifteen Mile Creek Camp S-53 when they receive a distress call about a woman in labor who needs to get to a hospital. 20 courageous CCC volunteers dig through miles of snow drifts until the woman is successfully able to be transported – 1936
 
Jan. 24
Krueger’s Cream Ale, the first canned beer, goes on sale in Richmond, Va.  Pabst was the second brewer in the same year to sell beer in cans, which came with opening instructions and the suggestion: "cool before serving" – 1935
 
Jan. 25
Sojourner Truth addresses first Black Women’s Rights convention – 1851
 
The Supreme Court upholds “Yellow Dog” employment contracts, which forbid membership in labor unions. Yellow Dog contracts remained legal until 1932 - 1915
 
The federal minimum wage rate rises to 75 cents an hour – 1950
 
Jan. 26
In what could be considered the first workers’ compensation agreement in America, pirate Henry Morgan pledges his underlings 600 pieces of eight or six slaves to compensate for a lost arm or leg. Also part of the pirate’s code, reports Roger Newell: Shares of the booty were equal regardless of race or sex, and shipboard decisions were made collectively – 1695
 
Samuel Gompers, first AFL president, born in London, England. He emigrated to the U.S. as a youth – 1850
 
Jan. 27
New York City maids organize to improve working conditions – 1734
 
Pete Seeger dies in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American left, persecuted during the McCarthy era for his support of  progressive, labor and civil rights causes. A prolific songwriter, he is generally credited with popularizing the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” He actively participated in demonstrations until shortly before his death – 2014
 
Members of the Northwestern University football team announce they are seeking union recognition. A majority signed cards, later delivered to the National Labor Relations Board office in Chicago, asking for representation by the College Athletes Players Association – 2014
 
Jan. 28
First U.S. unemployment compensation law enacted in Wisconsin – 1932
 
Jan. 29
Responding to unrest among Irish laborers building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, President Andrew Jackson orders first use of American troops to suppress a labor dispute – 1834
 
Newly-elected President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and minorities to win pay discrimination suits – 2009
 
From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 16
Thousands of Palmer Raids detainees win right to meet with lawyers and attorney representation at deportation hearings. "Palmer" was Alexander Mitchell Palmer, U.S. attorney general under Woodrow Wilson. Palmer believed Communism was "eating its way into the homes of the American workman," and Socialists were causing most of the country's social problems – 1920
 
Jan. 17
Radical labor organizer and anarchist Lucy Parsons leads hunger march in Chicago; IWW songwriter Ralph Chaplin wrote "Solidarity Forever" for the march – 1915
 
President John F. Kennedy signs Executive Order 10988, guaranteeing federal workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively – 1962
 
Jan. 18
U.S. Supreme Court rules in Moyer v. Peabody that a governor and officers of a state National Guard may imprison anyone — in the case at hand, striking miners in Colorado — without probable cause “in a time of insurrection” and deny the person the right of appeal – 1909
 
Jan. 20
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) founded – 1920
 
Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown," a eulogy for dying industrial cities, is the country’s most listened-to song. The lyrics, in part: "Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores / Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more / They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks / Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back to your hometown / Your hometown / Your hometown / Your hometown..." – 1986
 
Jan. 21
Some 750,000 steel workers walk out in 30 states, largest strike in U.S. history to that time – 1946
 
Jan. 22
Indian field hands at San Juan Capistrano mission refused to work, engaging in what was probably the first farm worker strike in California – 1826
 
The United Mine Workers of America is founded in Columbus, Ohio, with the merger of the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union – 1890
 
From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 9
The administration of George W. Bush declares federal airport security screeners will not be allowed to unionize so as not to "complicate" the war on terrorism. The decision was challenged and eventually overturned after Bush left office — 2003
 
Jan. 10
Former AFL-CIO President George Meany dies at age 85. The one-time plumber led the labor federation from the time of the AFL and CIO merger in 1955 until shortly before his death — 1980
 
Jan. 11
The IWW-organized “Bread & Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children begins in Lawrence, Mass. It lasted 10 weeks and ended in victory. The first millworkers to walk out were Polish women, who, upon collecting their pay, exclaimed that they had been cheated and promptly abandoned their looms — 1912
 
Jan. 12
Novelist Jack London is born. His classic definition of a scab — someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker's job: "After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles" — 1876
 
Jan. 13
The original Tompkins Square Riot. As unemployed workers demonstrated in New York's Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children with billy clubs. Declared Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: "It was the most glorious sight I ever saw..." — 1874
 
Jan. 15
Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, in Chicago for a demonstration against hunger, completes the writing of the labor anthem “Solidarity Forever” on this date in 1915. He’d begun writing it in 1914 during a miners’ strike in Huntington, W. Va. The first verse:
 
When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong! – 1915
 
Martin Luther King Jr. born – 1929
Jan. 2
Conference of 23 industrial unionists in Chicago leads to formation of IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as Wobblies — 1905
 
In what became known as Palmer Raids, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer arrests 4,000 foreign-born labor activists. He believed Communism was “eating its way into the homes of the American workman” and Socialists were causing most of the country’s social problems — 1920
 
Jan. 3
The Supreme Court rules against the closed shop, a labor-management agreement that only union members can be hired and must remain members to continue on the job — 1949
 
Jan. 4
Eight thousand New York City social workers strike, demanding better conditions for welfare recipients — 1965
 
Jan. 5
The nation’s first labor convention of black workers was held in Washington, D.C., with 214 delegates forming the Colored National Labor Union — 1869
 
Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins. Ten of the 11 deaths on the job came when safety netting beneath the site — the first-ever use of such equipment — failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. Nineteen other workers were saved by the net over the course of construction. They became members of the (informal) Halfway to Hell Club — 1933
 
Jan. 7
The presidents of 12 of the nation’s largest unions meet and call for reuniting the American labor movement, which split into two factions in 2005 when seven unions left the AFL-CIO and formed a rival federation. The meeting followed signals from President-elect Barack Obama that he would prefer dealing with a united movement, rather than a fractured one that often had two competing voices. Unions from both sides of the split participated in the meeting. The reunification effort failed, but by mid-2013 four of the unions had rejoined the AFL-CIO — 2009
 
Jan. 8
The largest slave revolt in U.S. history begins on Louisiana sugar plantations. Slaves armed with hand tools marched toward New Orleans, setting plantations and crops on fire, building their numbers to an estimated 300-500 as they went. The uprising lasted for two days before being brutally suppressed by the military — 1811
 
Birthdate of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, first AFL woman organizer. In 1880, she organized the Woman’s Bookbinder Union and, in 1903, was a founder of the National Women’s Trade Union League — 1864
 
From www.unionist.com.
Dec. 13
Death in San Antonio, Texas, of Samuel Gompers, president and founder of the American Federation of Labor — 1924
 
Dec. 15
The Kansas National Guard is called out to subdue from 2,000 to 6,000 protesting women who were going from mine to mine attacking non-striking miners in the Pittsburgh coal fields. The women made headlines across the state and the nation: they were christened the "Amazon Army" by the New York Times — 1921
 
Eight days after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, the AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related plants for the duration of World War II — 1941
 
Meeting in its biennial convention, the AFL-CIO declares “unstinting support” for “measures the Administration might deem necessary to halt Communist aggression and secure a just and lasting peace” in Vietnam — 1967
 
The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone aged 40 or older — 1967
 
Dec. 16
The National Civic Federation is formed by business and labor leaders, most prominently AFL president Sam Gompers, as a vehicle to resolve conflicts between management and labor. Not all unionists agreed with the alliance. The group turned increasingly conservative and labor withdrew after Gompers’ 1924 death — 1900
 
New York City’s Majestic Theater becomes first in the U.S. to employ women ushers — 1902
 
Eight female bank tellers in Willmar, Minn., begin the first strike against a bank in U.S. history. At issue: they were paid little more than half what male tellers were paid. The strike ended in moral victory but economic defeat two years later — 1977
 
From www.unionist.com.
Dec. 5
Ending a 20-year split, the two largest labor federations in the U.S. merge to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million — 1955
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcomes the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, declaring, "No deal is better than a bad deal." — 1999
The U.S. Department of Labor reports employers slashed 533,000 jobs the month before — the most in 34 years — as the Great Recession surged. The unemployment rolls had risen for seven months before that and were to continue to soar for another 10 months before topping 10 percent and beginning to level off late the following year — 2008

Dec. 6

African-American delegates meet in Washington, D.C., to form the Colored National Labor Union as a branch of the all-White National Labor Union created three years earlier. Unlike the NLU, the CNLU welcomed members of all races. Isaac Myers was the CNLU's founding president; Frederick Douglass became president in 1872 — 1869
The Washington Monument is completed in Washington, D.C. On the interior of the monument are 193 commemorative stones, donated by numerous governments and organizations from all over the world; one of them is from the International Typographical Union, founded in 1852. In 1986, the ITU merged into the Communications Workers of America — 1884

Dec. 7
More than 1,600 protesters staged a national hunger march on Washington, D.C., to present demands for unemployment insurance — 1931

Dec. 8
Twenty-five unions found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; Cigarmaker’s Union leader Samuel Gompers is elected president. The AFL’s founding document’s preamble reads: “A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer...” — 1886

President Bill Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — 1993

Nearly 230 jailed teachers — about one-fourth of the 1,000-member Middletown Township, N.J., staff — are ordered freed after they and their colleagues agree to end a 9-day strike and go into mediation with the local school board — 2001

Faced with a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, President Barack Obama outlines new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals, saying the country must continue to "spend our way out of this recession" until more Americans are back at work. Joblessness had soared 6 percent in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency — 2009

Dec. 10
First sit-down strike in U.S. called by IWW at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. — 1906

International Human Rights Day, commemorating the signing at the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part: “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” — 1948

American Federation of Teachers Local 89 in Atlanta, Georgia, disaffiliates from the national union because of an AFT directive that all its locals integrate. A year later, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to do so — 1956

Dec. 11
A small group of black farmers organize the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union in Houston County, Texas. They had been barred from membership in the all-White Southern Farmers’ Alliance. Through intensive organizing, along with merging with another black farmers group, the renamed Colored Alliance by 1891 claimed a membership of 1.2 million — 1886

The U.S. Department of Labor announces that the nation's unemployment rate had dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest mark in 15 years — 1968

Michigan becomes the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation. The Republican-dominated state Senate introduced two measures — one covering private workers, the other covering public workers — by surprise five days earlier and immediately voted their passage; the Republican House approved them five days later (the fastest it legally could) and the Republican governor immediately signed both bills — 2012

From www.unionist.com.

Nov. 28
William Sylvis, founder of the National Labor Union, born — 1828

Nov. 29
National Labor Relations Board rules that medical interns can unionize and negotiate wages and hours — 1999

Nov. 30
Mother Jones dies at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md.; “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!” — 1930

Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash. — 1999

Dec. 1
The Ford Motor Co. introduces the continuous moving assembly line that can produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes — 1913

Kellogg cereal adopts 6-hour day — 1930

African-American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement's campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South's "Jim Crow" laws — 1955

Dec. 2
The U.S. Senate votes 65-22 to condemn Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” McCarthy was a rabid anti-Communist who falsely accused thousands of Americans, mostly people who supported labor, civil rights and other progressive causes, of being traitors — 1954

Court documents filed in Boston say Walmart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime — 2009

Dec. 3
Textile strikers win 10-hour day, Fall River, Mass. — 1866

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance setting an 8-hour workday for all city employees — 1867

Between 4,000 and 20,000 people die in one of the largest industrial disasters on record. It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant. The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues — 1984

Arrests began today in Middleton, N.J., of teachers striking in violation of a no-strike law. Ultimately 228 educators were jailed for up to seven days before they were released following the Middleton Township Education Association's agreement to take the dispute to mediation — 2001

Dec. 4
President Roosevelt announces the end of the Works Progress Administration, concluding the four-year run of one of the American government's most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains — 1943

Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers' grape boycott — 1970

From www.unionist.com.
Nov. 21
Staten Island and Brooklyn are linked by the new Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time and still the longest in the U.S.  Joseph Farrell, an apprentice Ironworker on the project, told radio station WNYC: "The way the wind blows over this water, it would blow you right off the iron. That was to me and still is the most treacherous part of this business. When the wind grabs you on the open iron, it can be very dangerous." Three workers died over the course of the five-year project. — 1964
 
The promise of telecommuting arrives when the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network – ARPANET, the beginnings of the global Internet – is established when a permanent link is created between the University of California at Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. — 1969
 
Congress approves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to take effect Jan. 1 of the following year. — 1993
 
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act takes effect in the nation’s workplaces. It prohibits employers from requesting genetic testing or considering someone’s genetic background in hiring, firing or promotions. — 2009
 
Nov. 22
“The Uprising of the 20,000.” Some 20,000 female garment workers are on strike in New York; Judge tells arrested pickets: “You are on strike against God.” The walkout, believed to be the first major successful strike by female workers in American history, ended the following February with union contracts bringing better pay and working conditions. — 1909
 
President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Generally considered a friend of labor, Kennedy, a year earlier, had issued Executive Order 10988, which authorized unionization and a limited form of collective bargaining rights for most federal workers (excluding the Department of Defense). Many states followed the example set by Kennedy. — 1963
 
Nov. 23
History’s first recorded (on papyrus) strike, by Egyptians working on public works projects for King Ramses III in the Valley of the Kings. They were protesting having gone 20 days without pay — portions of grain — and put down their tools. Exact date estimated, described as within “the sixth month of the 29th year” of Ramses’ reign — 1170 B.C. — in The Spirit of Ancient Egypt by Ana Ruiz. Scholar John Romer adds in Ancient Lives: The Story of the Pharaoh’s Tombmakers that the strike so terrified the authorities they gave in and raised wages. Romer believes it happened a few years later, on Nov. 14, 1152. B.C.
 
Mine Workers President John L. Lewis walks away from the American Federation of Labor to lead the newly-formed Committee for Industrial Organization. The CIO and the unions created under its banner organized 6 million industrial workers over the following decade. – 1935
 
The first meeting between members of the newly formed National Football League Players Association and team owners takes place in New York. Union founders included Frank Gifford, Norm Van Brocklin, Don Shula and Kyle Rote. They were asking for a minimum $5,000 salary, a requirement that their teams pay for their equipment and a provision for the continued payment of salary to injured players. The players’ initial demands were ignored. – 1956
 
Nov. 25
Teachers strike in St. Paul, Minn., the first organized walkout by teachers in the country. The month-long “strike for better schools” involving some 1,100 teachers and principals led to a number of reforms in the way schools were administered and operated. – 1946
 
George Meany becomes president of the American Federation of Labor following the death four days earlier of William Green. – 1952
 
From www.unionist.com.
 
Nov. 14
Women’s Trade Union League founded, Boston – 1903
 
The American Railway Supervisors Association is formed at Harmony Hall in Chicago by 29 supervisors working for the Chicago & North Western Railway. They organized after realizing that those railroaders working under their supervision already had the benefits of unionization and were paid more for working fewer hours – 1934
 
Nov. 15
Founding convention of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions is held in Pittsburgh. It urges enactment of employer liability, compulsory education, uniform apprenticeship and child and convict labor laws. Five years later, it changes its name to the American Federation of Labor – 1881
 
Nov. 17
The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York is founded "to provide cultural, educational and social services to families of skilled craftsmen." The Society remains in existence to this day – 1785
 
To the huge relief of Post Office Department employees, the service sets a limit of 200 pounds a day to be shipped by any one customer. Builders were finding it cheaper to send supplies via post than via wagon freight. In one instance, 80,000 bricks for a new bank were shipped parcel post from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah, 170 miles away. The new directive also barred the shipment of humans: A child involved in a couple’s custody fight was shipped — for 17¢ — from Stillwell to South Bend, Ind., in a crate labeled “live baby” – 1916
 
With many U.S. political leaders gripped by the fear of communism and questioning citizen loyalties in the years following World War II, the Screen Actors Guild votes to force its officers to take a “non-communist” pledge. A few days earlier, the “Hollywood Ten” had been called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities – 1947
 
Nov. 19
Joe Hill, labor leader and songwriter, executed in Utah on what many believe was a framed charge of murder. Before he died, he declared: “Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize.” – 1915
 
The nation’s first automatic toll collection machine is used at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway – 1954
 
November 20
First use of term “scab,” by Albany Typographical Society – 1816
 
The Great Recession hits high gear when the stock market falls to its lowest level since 1997. Adding to the mess: a burst housing bubble and total incompetence and greed — some of it criminal — on the part of the nation’s largest banks and Wall Street investment firms. Officially, the recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 – 2008
 
From www.unionist.com.
Nov. 7
Lemuel Ricketts Boulware dies in Delray Beach, Fla., at age 95. As a GE vice president in the 1950s he created the policy known as Boulwarism, in which management decides what is "fair" and refuses to budge on anything during contract negotiations. IUE President Paul Jennings described the policy as "telling the workers what they are entitled to and then trying to shove it down their throats." 1990

Nov. 8
20,000 workers, African-American and white, stage a general strike in New Orleans, demanding union recognition and hour and wage gains. 1892

President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create 4 million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America.) 1933

Nov. 11
Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally. 1887

A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged. Local officials listed his death as a suicide. 1919

Nov. 12
Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954 it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants. 1954

“Chainsaw Al” Dunlap announces he is restructuring the Sunbeam Corp. and lays off 6,000 workers — half the workforce. Sunbeam later nearly collapsed after a series of scandals under Dunlap’s leadership that cost investors billions of dollars. 1996

Nov. 13
The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, N.J. Thirteen workers died over its seven-year-long construction. 1927

Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union activist Karen Silkwood is killed in a suspicious car crash on her way to deliver documents to a newspaper reporter during a safety investigation of her Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma. 1974

From www.unionist.com.
Oct. 31
George Henry Evans publishes the first issue of the Working Man’s Advocate, “edited by a Mechanic” for the “useful and industrious classes” in New York City. He focused on the inequities between the “portion of society living in luxury and idleness” and those “groaning under the oppressions and miseries imposed on them.” — 1829
 
After 14 years of labor by 400 stone masons, the Mt. Rushmore sculpture is completed in Keystone, S.D. — 1941
 
Nov. 1
In the nation’s first general strike for a 10-hour day, 300 armed Irish longshoremen marched through the streets of Philadelphia calling on other workers to join them. Some 20,000 did, from clerks to bricklayers to city employees and other occupations. The city announced a 10-hour workday within the week; private employers followed suit three weeks later — 1835
 
Malbone tunnel disaster in New York City; inexperienced scab motorman crashes five-car train during strike, 97 killed, 255 injured — 1918
 
Nov. 2
Railroad union leader & socialist Eugene V. Debs receives nearly a million votes for president while imprisoned for opposing World War I — 1920
 
President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to be observed on the third Monday of January — 1983
 
Carmen Fasanella retired after 68 years and 243 days of taxicab service in Princeton, N.J., earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.  He started driving at age 17 and, reportedly, chauffeured Princeton Professor Albert Einstein around town — 1989
 
Nov. 3
Striking milk drivers dump thousands of gallons of milk on New York City streets — 1921
 
Nov. 4
Populist humorist Will Rogers was born on this day near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” — 1879
 
Nov. 5
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born — 1855
 
From www.unionist.com.
Oct. 24
The 40-hour work week goes into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed by President Roosevelt two years earlier — 1940

Oct. 25
What many believe to be the first formal training on first aid in American history took place at the Windsor Hotel in Jermyn, Penn., when Dr. Matthew J. Shields instructed 25 coal miners on ways to help their fellow miners. Upon completion of the course, each of the miners was prepared and able to render first aid. The training led to marked decreases in serious mining injuries and fatalities — 1899

John Sweeney, president of the Service Employees International Union, elected president of AFL-CIO — 1995

After a two-year fight, workers at the Bonus Car Wash in Santa Monica, Calif., win a union contract calling for pay increases, better breaks and other gains. “They didn’t treat us like people,” nine-year employee Oliverio Gomez told the Los Angeles Times — 2011

Oct. 26
After eight years and at least 1,000 worker deaths — mostly Irish immigrants — the 350-mile Erie Canal opens, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop that "so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction (last rites) to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick." — 1825

Oct. 27
The New York City subway, the first rapid-transit system in America, opens. More than 100 workers died during the construction of the first 13 miles of tunnels and track — 1904

The National Labor Council is formed in Cincinnati to unite African-American workers in the struggle for full economic, political and social equality. The group was to function for five years before disbanding, having forced many AFL and CIO unions to adopt non-discrimination policies — 1951

Oct. 28
Union organizer and anarchist Luisa Capetillo is born in Ariecibo, Puerto Rico. She organized tobacco and other agricultural workers in Puerto Rico and later in New York and Florida. In 1916, she led a successful sugar cane strike of more than 40,000 workers on the island. She demanded that her union endorse voting rights for women. In 1919, three years before her death, she was arrested for wearing pants in public, the first woman in Puerto Rico to do so. The charges were dropped — 1879

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is completed after two and one-half years. Originally sold as a jobs program for thousands of African-American workers in St. Louis suffering from the Depression, the 630-foot high arch of stainless steel marks the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the waterfront of St. Louis, Mo. Although it was predicted 13 lives would be lost in construction, not a single worker died — 1965

Oct. 29
Wall Street crashes — "Black Tuesday" — throwing the world's economy into a years-long crisis, including an unemployment rate in the U.S. that by 1933 hit nearly 25 percent — 1929

Oct. 30
Ed Meese, attorney general in the Ronald Reagan administration, urges employers to begin spying on workers "in locker rooms, parking lots, shipping and mail room areas and even the nearby taverns" to try to catch them using drugs — 1986

The fishing boat, Andrea Gail, out of Gloucester, Mass., is caught in ferocious storm and lost at sea with her crew of six. The event inspired the book, “The Perfect Storm,” by Sebastian Junger, and a film by the same name. The city of Gloucester has lost more than 10,000 whalers and fishermen to the sea over its 350-year history — 1991

From www.unionist.com.
Oct. 13
American Federation of Labor votes to boycott all German-made products as a protest against Nazi antagonism to organized labor within Germany — 1934
 
More than 1,100 office workers strike Columbia University in New York City. The mostly female and minority workers win union recognition and pay increases — 1985
 
National Basketball Association cancels regular season games for the first time in its 51-year history, during a player lockout.  Player salaries and pay caps are the primary issue. The lockout lasts 204 days — 1998
 
Oct. 14
Formal construction began today on what is expected to be a five-year, $3.9 billion replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River. It's estimated the project would be employing 8,000 building trades workers over the span of the job — 2013
 
Oct. 15
President Woodrow Wilson signs the Clayton Antitrust Act — often referred to as "Labor’s Magna Carta" — establishing that unions are not "conspiracies" under the law. It for the first time freed unions to strike, picket and boycott employers. In the years that followed, however, numerous state measures and negative court interpretations weakened the law — 1914
 
Oct. 16
Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, is beheaded during the French Revolution. When alerted that the peasants were suffering due to widespread bread shortages, lore has it that she replied, “Let them eat cake.” In fact, she never said that but workers were, justifiably, ready to believe anything bad about their cold-hearted royalty — 1793
 
Abolitionist John Brown leads 18 men, including five free blacks, in an attack on the Harper's Ferry ammunition depot, the beginning of guerilla warfare against slavery — 1859
 
From www.unionist.com.
Sept. 26
The first production Ford Model T leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Mich. It was the first car ever manufactured on an assembly line, with interchangeable parts. The auto industry was to become a major U.S. employer, accounting for as many as one of every eight to 10 jobs in the country - 1908
 
Sept. 27
Striking textile workers in Fall River, Mass., demand bread for their starving children – 1875
 
Sept. 30
Seventy-year-old Mother Jones organizes the wives of striking miners in Arnot, Pa., to descend on the mine with brooms, mops and clanging pots and pans. They frighten away the mules and their scab drivers. The miners eventually won their strike — 1899
 
Cesar Chavez, with Dolores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America — 1962
 
Oct. 1
The George Washington Bridge officially opens, spanning the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. Thirteen workers died during the four-year construction project for what at the time was the longest main span in the world — 1931
 
The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened as the first toll superhighway in the United States.  It was built in most part by workers hired through the state’s re-employment offices — 1940
 
The National Hockey League team owners began a lockout of the players that lasted 103 days — 1994
 
Oct. 2
American Federation of Labor officially endorses campaign for a 6-hour day, 5-day workweek — 1934
 
Starbucks Workers Union baristas at an outlet in East Grand Rapids, Mich., organized by the Wobblies, win their grievances after the National Labor Relations Board cites the company for labor law violations, including threats against union activists — 2007
 
Union members, progressives and others rally in Washington, D.C., under the Banner of One Nation Working Together, demand “good jobs, equal justice, and quality education for all.” Crowd estimates range from tens of thousands to 200,000 — 2010
 
From www.unionist.com.
 
Sept. 19
Between 400,000 and 500,000 unionists converge on Washington, D.C., for a Solidarity Day march and rally protesting Republican policies – 1981
 
Sept. 20
Upton Sinclair, socialist and author of The Jungle — published on this day in 1906 — born in Baltimore, Md. – 1878
 
According to folklorist John Garst, steel-drivin’ man John Henry, born a slave, outperformed a steam hammer on this date at the Coosa Mountain Tunnel or the Oak Mountain Tunnel of the Columbus and Western Railway (now part of the Norfolk Southern) near Leeds, Ala. Other researchers place the contest near Talcott, W. Va. - 1887
 
Sept. 21
Mother Jones leads a march of miners' children through the streets of Charleston, W. Va. — 1912
 
Sept. 22
Emancipation Proclamation signed — 1862
 
OSHA reaches its largest-ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 — 2005
 
Eleven Domino's employees in Pensacola, Fla., form the nation's first union of pizza delivery drivers — 2006
 
Sept. 24
Canada declares the Wobblies illegal — 1918
 
From www.unionist.com.
Sept. 12
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader and socialist, sentenced to 10 years for opposing World War I. While in jail, Debs received one million votes for president – 1918
Jobless workers march on grocery stores and seize food in Toledo, Ohio — 1932

New York City’s Union Square, the site of the first Labor Day in 1882, is officially named a national historic landmark. The square has long been a focal point for working-class protest and political expression — 1998

Sept. 13
Eleven AFSCME-represented prison employees and 33 inmates die in four days of rioting at New York State’s Attica Prison and the retaking of the prison. The riot caused the nation to take a closer look at prison conditions, for inmates and their guards alike — 1971

Sept. 14
A striker is shot by a bog owner (and town-elected official) during a walkout by some 1,500 cranberry pickers, members of the newly-formed Cape Cod Cranberry Pickers Union Local 1. State Police were called, more strikers were shot and 64 were arrested. The strike was lost — 1933

Congress passes the Landrum-Griffin Act. The law expands many of the anti-labor provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, increasing union reporting requirements and restricting secondary boycotting and picketing — 1959

Sept. 15
Some 5,000 female cotton workers in and around Pittsburgh, Pa., strike for a 10-hour day. The next day, male trade unionists become the first male auxiliary when they gather to protect the women from police attacks. The strike ultimately failed — 1845

Sept. 16
More than 43,000 oil workers strike in 20 states, part of the post-war strike wave — 1945

Richard Trumka is elected president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s convention in Pittsburgh. He had served as the secretary-treasurer under predecessor John Sweeney from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was president of the United Mine Workers for 13 years — 2009

Sept. 17
At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony calls for the formation of a Working Women's Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote — 1868

Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09 — 1933

The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” — 2011

Sept. 18
One week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, anthrax spores are mailed by an unknown party to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Five people exposed to the spores died, including two workers at Washington, D.C.’s USPS Brentwood facility: Thomas Morris, Jr. and Joseph Curseen, who were to die of their exposure within the month — 2001

From www.unionist.com.
Sept. 5
Between 20,000 and 30,000 marchers participate in New York's first Labor Day parade, demanding the 8-hour day — 1882

"Palmer raids" on all Wobbly halls and offices in 48 cities in U.S. Alexander Palmer, U.S. attorney general, was rounding up radicals and leftists — 1917

Sept. 6
One of the worst disasters in the history of U.S. anthracite mining occurred at the Avondale Mine, near Scranton, Pa., when a fire originating from a furnace at the bottom of a 237-foot shaft roared up the shaft, killing 110 miners — 1869

Sept. 7
Federal employees win the right to receive workers' compensation insurance coverage — 1916

Sept. 8
Workers give up their Labor Day weekend holidays to keep the munitions factories working to aid in the war effort. Most Labor Day parades are canceled in respect for members of the Armed Services — 1942

Sept. 9
More than a thousand Boston police officers strike after 19 union leaders are fired for organizing activities. Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge announced that none of the strikers would be rehired, mobilized the state police and recruited an entirely new police force from among unemployed veterans of the Great War (World War I) — 1919

United Auto Workers President Leonard Woodcock is named in President Richard Nixon’s “Enemy’s List,” a White House compilation of Americans Nixon regarded as major political opponents. Another dozen union presidents were added later. The existence of the list was revealed during Senate Watergate Committee hearings — 1973

Sept. 11
More than 3,000 people died when suicide highjackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Among the dead in New York were 634 union members, the majority of them New York City firefighters and police on the scene when the towers fell – 2001

Crystal Lee Sutton, the real-life Norma Rae of the movies, dies at age 68. She worked at a J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., when low pay and poor working conditions led her to become a union activist — 2009

From www.unionist.com.
Aug. 22
The Kerr-McGee Corp. agrees to pay the estate of the late Karen Silkwood $1.38 million, settling a 10-year-old nuclear contamination lawsuit. She was a union activist who died in 1974 under suspicious circumstances on her way to talk to a reporter about safety concerns at her plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma — 1986

Aug. 23
The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies to capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism. The New York Herald characterized the commission's president, Frank P. Walsh, as "a Mother Jones in trousers" — 1912

Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world — 1927

Aug. 24
The Gatling Gun Co. — manufacturers of an early machine gun — writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the "recent riotous disturbances around the country." Says the company: "Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling ... can clear a street or block and keep it clear" — 1877

Aug. 25
Birth of Allan Pinkerton, whose strike-breaking detectives ("Pinks") gave us the word "fink" — 1819

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded at a meeting in New York City. A. Philip Randolph became the union's first organizer — 1925

Aug. 26
After three-quarters of the states had ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, women win their long struggle for the vote — 1920

In what some may consider one of the many management decisions that was to help cripple the American auto industry over the following decades, Ford Motor Co. produces its first Edsel. Ford dropped the project two years later after losing approximately $350 million — 1957

The Women’s Strike for Equality is staged in cities across the U.S., marking the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, under which women won the right to vote. A key focus of the strike — in fact, more accurately a series of marches and demonstrations — was equality in the workplace. An estimated 20,000 women participated, some carrying signs with the iconic slogan, “Don’t Iron While the Strike is Hot.” Another sign: “Hardhats for Soft Broads” — 1970

Aug. 27
Some 14,000 Chicago teachers who have gone without pay for several months finally collect about $1,400 each — 1934

President Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize all the nation's railroads to prevent a general strike. The railroads were not returned to their owners until two years later — 1950

Aug. 28
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — the Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have A Dream" speech march — is held in Washington, D.C., with 250,000 participating. The AFL-CIO did not endorse the march, but several affiliated unions did — 1963


From www.unionist.com.
Aug. 15
To begin what proved to become one of the world’s longest construction projects, workers lay the foundation stone of Germany’s Cologne Cathedral, built to house the relics of the Three Wise Men. The job was declared completed in 1880 — 632 years later — 1248

The Panama Canal opens after 33 years of construction and an estimated 22,000 worker deaths, mostly caused by malaria and yellow fever. The 51-mile canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans — 1914

Eight automotive department employees at a Walmart near Ottawa won an arbitrator-imposed contract after voting for UFCW representation, becoming the giant retailer's only location in North America with a collective bargaining agreement. Two months later, the company closed the department. Three years earlier, Walmart had closed an entire store on the same day the government announced an arbitrator would impose a contract agreement there — 2008

Aug. 16
George Meany, plumber, founding AFL-CIO president, born in City Island, Bronx. In his official biography, “George Meany and His Times,” he said he had "never walked a picket line in his life." He also said he took part in only one strike (against the United States Government to get higher pay for plumbers on welfare jobs). Yet he also firmly said that, "You only make progress by fighting for progress." Meany served as secretary-treasurer of the AFL from 1940 to 1952, succeeded as president of the AFL and then continued as president of the AFL-CIO following the historic merger in 1955 until retiring in 1979 — 1894

Aug.19
First edition of IWW Little Red Song Book published — 1909

Aug. 21
Slave revolt led by Nat Turner begins in Southampton County, Va. — 1831


From www.unionist.com.
Aug. 8
Delegates to the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly elect 35-year-old Charles James, leader of the Boot and Shoe Workers local union, as their president. He was the first African-American elected to that leadership post in St. Paul and, many believe, the first anywhere in the nation — 1902
 
Aug. 10
President Roosevelt signs amendments to the 1935 Social Security Act, broadening the program to include dependents’ and survivors' benefits — 1939
 
President Barack Obama signs a $26 billion bill designed to protect 300,000 teachers, police and others from layoffs spurred by budgetary crises in states hard-hit by the Great Recession — 2010
 
Aug. 11
Maine lobster fishers form a local of the Machinists union as they face a 40-year low price for their catches, and other issues. By October, the New York Times reported, it had 600 members, 240 of them dues-payers — 2013
 
Aug. 12
With the news that their boss, Florenz Ziegfeld, was joining the Producing Managers’ Association, the chorus girls in his Ziegfield Follies create their own union, the Chorus Equity Association. They were helped by a big donation from superstar and former chorus girl Lillian Russell. In 1955, the union merged with the Actor’s Equity Association — 1919
 
The North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — is concluded among the United States, Canada and Mexico, to take effect in January, 1994, despite protests from labor, environmental and human rights groups — 1992
 
Aug. 14
President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act providing, for the first time ever, guaranteed income for retirees and creating a system of unemployment benefits — 1935
 
Members of the upstart Polish union Solidarity seize the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. Sixteen days later, the government officially recognizes the union. Many consider the event the beginning of the end for the Iron Curtain — 1980
 
 
From www.unionist.com.
July 19
Women's Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Delegates adopt a Declaration of Women's Rights and a call for women's suffrage — 1848

An amendment to the 1939 Hatch Act, a federal law whose main provision prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, is amended to also cover state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds — 1940

July 20
New York City newsboys, many so poor that they were sleeping in the streets, begin a 2-week strike. Several rallies drew more than 5,000 newsboys, complete with charismatic speeches by strike leader Kid Blink, who was blind in one eye. The boys had to pay publishers up front for the newspapers; they were successful in forcing the publishers to buy back unsold papers — 1899

Postal unions, Postal Service sign first labor contract in the history of the federal government — the year following an unauthorized strike by 200,000 postal workers — 1971

July 21
Compressed air explosion kills 20 workers constructing railroad tunnel under the Hudson River — 1880

Radio station WCFL, owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor, takes to the airwaves with two hours of music. The first and only labor-owned radio station in the country, WCFL was sold in 1979 — 1926

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich., is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human — 1984

July 22
Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, 6-day week, and a board of arbitration — 1886

July 23
Northern Michigan copper miners strike for union recognition, higher wages and 8-hour day. By the time they threw in the towel the following April 1,100 had been arrested on various charges and Western Federation of Miners President Charles Moyer had been shot, beaten and forced out of town — 1913

July 24
The U.S. minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour today. The original minimum, set in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, was 25¢ per hour — 2009

From www.unionist.com.
July 11
After seven years of labor by as many as 2,800 construction workers, the Triborough Bridge opens in New York. Actually a complex of three bridges, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. Construction began on Black Friday, 1929, and New Deal money turned it into one of the largest public works projects of the Great Depression — 1936

July 12
Bisbee, Ariz., deports Wobblies; 1,186 miners sent into desert in manure-laden boxcars. They had been fighting for improved safety and working conditions — 1917

The Screen Actors Guild holds its first meeting. Among those attending: future horror movie star (Frankenstein’s Monster) and union activist Boris Karloff — 1933

July 13
Southern Tenant Farmers' Union organized in Tyronza, Ark. — 1934

July 14
Woody Guthrie, writer of "This Land is Your Land" and "Union Maid," born in Okemah, Okla. — 1912

Italian immigrants and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Massachusetts of murder and payroll robbery — unfairly, most historians agree — after a 2-month trial and are eventually executed. Fifty years after their deaths, the state's governor issued a proclamation saying they had been treated unfairly and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." — 1921

July 15
Ralph Gray, an African-American sharecropper and leader of the Share Croppers Union, is murdered in Camp Hill, Ala. — 1931

A half-million steelworkers begin what is to become a 116-day strike that shutters nearly every steel mill in the country. Management wanted to dump contract language limiting its ability to change the number of workers assigned to a task or to introduce new work rules or machinery that would result in reduced hours or fewer employees — 1959

July 17
Two ammunition ships explode at Port Chicago, Calif., killing 322, including 202 African-Americans assigned by the Navy to handle explosives. It was the worst home-front disaster of World War II. The resulting refusal of 258 African-Americans to return to the dangerous work underpinned the trial and conviction of 50 of the men in what is called the Port Chicago Mutiny — 1944

From www.unionist.com.

July 4
Building trades workers lay the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. The WTC had been leveled by a terrorist attack three years earlier. Nearly 3,000 died at the WTC and in other attacks in the eastern U.S. on the same day — 2004

July 5
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the National Labor Relations Act — 1935

July 7
Striking New York longshoremen meet to discuss ways to keep new immigrants from scabbing. They were successful, at least for a time. On July 14, 500 newly arrived Jews marched straight from their ship to the union hall. On July 15, 250 Italian immigrants stopped scabbing on the railroad and joined the union — 1882

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones begins "The March of the Mill Children,” when, accompanied part of the way by children, she walked from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt's home on Long Island to protest the plight of child laborers. One of her demands: Reduce the children’s work week to 55 hours — 1903

Workers begin construction on the Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam) on the Colorado River during the Great Depression. Wages and conditions were horrible — 16 workers and work camp residents died of the heat over just a single 30-day period —and two strikes over the four years of construction led to only nominal improvements in pay and conditions — 1931

July 8
Labor organizer Ella Reeve "Mother" Bloor born on Staten Island. Among her activities: investigating child labor in glass factories and mines and working undercover in meat-packing plants to verify for federal investigators the nightmarish working conditions that author Upton Sinclair had revealed in “The Jungle” — 1862

Founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W. or Wobblies) concludes in Chicago. Charles O. Sherman, a former American Federation of Labor organizer, is elected president — 1905

July 10
Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and civil rights activist, born — 1875
From www.unionist.com.
June 27
The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the "Wobblies," is founded at a 12-day convention in Chicago. The Wobbly motto: "An injury to one is an injury to all." — 1905
 
Congress passes the National Labor Relations Act, creating the structure for collective bargaining in the United States — 1935
 
June 29
An executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the National Labor Relations Board. A predecessor organization, the National Labor Board, established by the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933, had been struck down by the Supreme Court — 1934
 
The newly formed Jobs With Justice stages its first big support action, backing 3,000 picketing Eastern Airlines mechanics at Miami Airport — 1987
 
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in CWA v. Beck that, in a union security agreement, a union can collect as dues from non-members only that money necessary to perform its duties as a collective bargaining representative — 1988
 
July 1
Some 1,100 streetcar workers strike in New Orleans, spurring the creation of the po’ boy sandwich by a local sandwich shop owner and one-time streetcar man. "Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming," Bennie Martin later recalled, "one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’" Martin and his wife fed any striker who showed up — 1929
 
July 2
The first Walmart store opens in Rogers, Ark. By 2014, the company had 10,000 stores in 27 countries, under 71 different names, employing more than 2 million people. It is known in the U.S. and most of the other countries in which it operates for low wages and extreme anti-unionism — 1962
 
President Johnson signs Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbidding employers and unions from discriminating on the basis of race, color, gender, nationality or religion — 1964
 
The Labor Department reports that U.S. employers cut 467,000 jobs over the prior month, driving the nation’s unemployment rate up to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent — 2009
 
July 3
Children, employed in the silk mills in Paterson, N.J., go on strike for 11-hour day and 6-day week. A compromise settlement resulted in a 69-hour work week — 1835
 
Feminist and labor activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman born in Hartford, Conn. Her landmark study, "Women and Economics,” was radical: It called for the financial independence of women and urged a network of child care centers — 1860

From www.unionist.com.
June 20
The Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act, curbing strikes, is vetoed by President Harry S. Truman. The veto was overridden three days later by a Republican-controlled Congress — 1947

Oil began traveling through the Alaska pipeline. Seventy thousand people worked on building the pipeline, history's largest privately financed construction project — 1977

June 21
In England, a compassionate Parliament declares that children can't be required to work more than 12 hours a day. And they must have an hour’s instruction in the Christian religion every Sunday and not be required to sleep more than two in a bed — 1802

Ten miners accused of being militant "Molly Maguires" are hanged in Pennsylvania. A private corporation initiated the investigation of the 10 through a private detective agency. A private police force arrested them and private attorneys for the coal companies prosecuted them. "The state provided only the courtroom and the gallows," a judge said many years later — 1877

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of unions to publish statements urging members to vote for a specific congressional candidate, ruling that such advocacy is not a violation of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act — 1948

June 23
Congress overrides President Harry Truman's veto of the anti-worker Taft-Hartley Act. The law weakened unions and let states exempt themselves from union requirements. Twenty states immediately enacted open shop laws and more followed — 1947

June 25
Congress passes the Fair Labor Standards Act, banning child labor and setting the 40-hour work week — 1938

June 26
The 189-mile-long St. Lawrence Seaway opens, making the Great Lakes accessible to Atlantic shipping. Thousands of laborers toiled for decades to make it happen; indirectly and directly, the Seaway today supports 75,000 jobs in Canada and 150,000 in the U.S. — 1959

From www.unionist.com.
June 14
Unions legalized in Canada — 1872

The first commercial computer, UNIVAC I, is installed at the U.S. Census Bureau — 1951
 
June 15
Battle of Century City,police in Los Angeles attack some 500 janitors and their supporters during a peaceful Service Employees International Union demonstration against cleaning contractor ISS. The event generated public outrage that resulted in recognition of the workers' union and spurred the creation of an annual June 15 Justice for Janitors Day — 1990
 
June 16
The National Industrial Recovery Act became law, but was later to be declared unconstitutional. It established the right to unionize, set maximum hours and minimum wages for every major industry and abolished sweatshops and child labor. The Wagner Act, in effect today, was approved two years later to legalize unionization — 1933
 
Inacom Corp., once the world's largest computer dealer, sends most of its 5,100 employees an email instructing them to call a toll-free phone number; when they call, a recorded message announces they have been fired — 2000
 
June 17
Twenty-one young women and girls making cartridges for the Union Army at the Washington, D.C. arsenal during the Civil War are killed in an accidental explosion. Most of the victims were Irish immigrants. A monument was erected in the Congressional Cemetery, where 17 of the workers were buried — 1864

Susan B. Anthony goes on trial in Canandaigua, N.Y., for casting her ballot in a federal election the previous November, in violation of existing statutes barring women from the vote — 1873
 
June 19
Eight-hour work day adopted for federal employees — 1912

From www.unionist.com.
June 6
A general strike by some 12,000 autoworkers and others in Lansing, Mich., shuts down the city for a month in what was to become known as the city’s “Labor Holiday.” The strike was precipitated by the arrest of nine workers, including the wife of the auto workers local union president. The arrest left three children in the couple’s home unattended — 1937
 
June 8
The earliest recorded strike by Chinese immigrants to the U.S. occurred when stonemasons, who were brought to San Francisco to build the three-story Parrott granite building — made from Chinese prefabricated blocks — struck for higher pay — 1852
 
New York City drawbridge tenders, in a dispute with the state over pension issues, leave a dozen bridges open, snarling traffic in what the Daily News described as "the biggest traffic snafu in the city's history" — 1971
 
June 9
Helen Marot is born in Philadelphia to a wealthy family. She went on to organize the Bookkeepers, Stenographers and Accountants Union in New York, and to organize and lead the city's 1909-1910 Shirtwaist Strike. In 1912, she was a member of a commission investigating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire — 1865
 
June 10
Unions legalized in Canada — 1872
 
U.S. Supreme Court rules in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. that preliminary work activities, where controlled by the employer and performed entirely for the employer's benefit, are properly included as working time. The decision is known as the "portal to portal case" — 1946
 
President Kennedy signs a law mandating equal pay to women who are performing the same jobs as men (Equal Pay Act) — 1963
 
June 11
John L. Lewis dies. A legendary figure, he was president of the United Mine Workers from 1920 to 1960 and a driving force behind the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations — 1969
 
June 12
The U.S. Supreme Court invalidates two sections of a Florida law: one required state licensing of paid union business agents, the other required registration with the state of all unions and their officers — 1945
 
From www.unionist.com.
May 30
The Ford Motor Company signs a "Technical Assistance" contract to produce cars in the Soviet Union, and Ford workers are sent to the Soviet Union to train the labor force in the use of its parts. Many American workers who made the trip, including Walter Reuther, a tool and die maker who later was to become the UAW's president, returned home with a different view of the duties and privileges of the industrial laborer — 1929

The Ground Zero cleanup at the site of the World Trade Center is completed three months ahead of schedule due to the heroic efforts of more than 3,000 building tradesmen and women who had worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for the previous eight months — 2002

June 1
General Motors files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing made the automaker the largest U.S. industrial company to enter bankruptcy protection. It went on to recover thanks to massive help from the UAW and the federal government — 2009

June 2
Twenty-six journeymen printers in Philadelphia stage the trade’s first strike in America over wages. They were protesting a cut in their $6 weekly pay — 1786

A constitutional amendment declaring that "Congress shall have power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age" is approved by the Senate, following the lead of the House five weeks earlier. Only 28 state legislatures ever ratified the amendment — the last three in 1937 — so it has never taken effect — 1924

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that President Harry Truman acted illegally when he ordered the Army to seize the nation’s steel mills to avert a strike — 1952

June 3
A federal child labor law, enacted two years earlier, is declared unconstitutional — 1918

June 4
Massachusetts becomes the first state to establish a minimum wage — 1912

The House of Representatives approves the Taft-Hartley Act. The legislation allows the president of the United States to intervene in labor disputes. President Truman vetoed the law but was overridden by Congress — 1947

From www.unionist.com.
May 23
An estimated 100,000 textile workers, including more than 10,000 children, strike in the Philadelphia area. Among the issues: 60-hour workweeks, including night hours, for the children — 1903

May 24
After 14 years of construction and the deaths of 27 workers, the Brooklyn Bridge over New York’s East River opens. Newspapers call it “the eighth wonder of the world” — 1883

May 25
Striking shoemakers in Philadelphia are arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy for violating an English common law that bars schemes aimed at forcing wage increases. The strike was broken — 1805

Thousands of unemployed WWI veterans arrive in Washington, D.C., to demand early payment of a bonus they had been told they would get, but not until 1945. They built a shantytown near the U.S. Capitol but were burned out by U.S. troops after two months — 1932

The notorious 11-month Remington Rand strike begins. The strike spawned the "Mohawk Valley (N.Y.) formula," described by investigators as a corporate plan to discredit union leaders, frighten the public with the threat of violence, employ thugs to beat up strikers and other tactics. The National Labor Relations Board termed the formula "a battle plan for industrial war" — 1936

May 26
Men and women weavers in Pawtucket, R.I., stage nation's first "co-ed" strike — 1824

Actors’ Equity Assn. is founded by 112 actors at a meeting in New York City’s Pabst Grand Circle Hotel. Producer George M. Cohan responds: “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union.” Later a sign will appear in Times Square reading: “Elevator operator wanted. George M. Cohan need not apply" – 1913

Ford Motor Co. security guards attack union organizers and supporters attempting to distribute literature outside the plant in Dearborn, Mich., in an event that was to become known as the “Battle of the Overpass.” The guards tried to destroy any photos showing the attack, but some survived — and inspired the Pulitzer committee to establish a prize for photography — 1937

May 27
The U.S. Supreme Court declares the Depression-era National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional, about a month before it was set to expire — 1935

May 28
The Ladies Shoe Binders Society formed in New York — 1835

Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia for dancing the Turkey Trot. They were on their lunch break, but management thought the dance too racy — 1912

At least 30,000 workers in Rochester, N.Y., participate in a general strike in support of municipal workers who had been fired for forming a union — 1946

May 29
Animators working for Walt Disney begin what was to become a successful 5-week strike for recognition of their union, the Screen Cartoonists' Guild. The animated feature “Dumbo” was being created at the time and, according to Wikipedia, a number of strikers are caricatured in the feature as clowns who go to "hit the big boss for a raise" — 1941

From www.unionist.com.
May 16
U.S. Supreme Court issues Mackay decision, which permits the permanent replacement of striking workers. The decision had little impact until Ronald Reagan's replacement of striking air traffic controllers (PATCO) in 1981, a move that signaled anti-union, private-sector employers that it was OK to do likewise — 1938
 
Black labor leader and peace activist A. Philip Randolph dies. He was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the first African-American on the AFL-CIO executive board, and a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington — 1979
 
May 17
Supreme Court outlaws segregation in public schools — 1954
 
Twelve Starbucks baristas in a midtown Manhattan store, declaring they couldn't live on $7.75 an hour, signed cards demanding representation by the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies — 2004
 
May 18
In what may have been baseball's first labor strike, the Detroit Tigers refuse to play after team leader Ty Cobb is suspended: He went into the stands and beat a fan who had been heckling him. Cobb was reinstated and the Tigers went back to work after the team manager's failed attempt to replace the players with a local college team; their pitcher gave up 24 runs — 1912
 
Big Bill Haywood, a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies), dies in exile in the Soviet Union — 1928
 
Oklahoma jury finds for the estate of atomic worker Karen Silkwood, orders Kerr-McGee Nuclear Co. to pay $505,000 in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood's plutonium contamination — 1979
 
May 19
Two hundred-sixteen miners die from an explosion and its aftermath at the Fraterville Mine in Anderson County, Tenn. All but three of Fraterville's adult males were killed. The mine had a reputation for fair contracts and pay — miners were represented by the United Mine Workers—and was considered safe; methane may have leaked in from a nearby mine — 1902
 
A total of 31 dockworkers are killed, 350 workers and others are injured when four barges carrying 467 tons of ammunition blow up at South Amboy, N.J. They were loading mines that had been deemed unsafe by the Army and were being shipped to the Asian market for sale — 1950
 
May 20
The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers' rights to form unions — 1926
 
May 21
Nearly 100,000 unionized SBC Communications Inc. workers begin a 4-day strike to protest the local phone giant's latest contract offer — 2004
 
May 22
Civil Service Retirement Act of 1920 gives federal workers a pension — 1920
 
President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the goals of his Great Society social reforms: to bring "an end to poverty and racial injustice" in America — 1964
 
From www.unionist.com.
 

May 9
The first Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was held on this date in New York City. Attendees included women of color, the wives and daughters of slaveholders, and women of low economic status — 1837
 
Legendary Western Federation of Miners leader William "Big Bill" Haywood goes on trial for murder in the bombing death of former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg, who had brutally suppressed the state's miners. Haywood ultimately was declared innocent — 1907
 
Hollywood studio mogul Louis B. Mayer recognizes the Screen Actors Guild. SAG leaders reportedly were bluffing when they told Mayer that 99 percent of all actors would walk out the next morning unless he dealt with the union. Some 5,000 actors attended a victory gathering the following day at Hollywood Legion Stadium; a day later, SAG membership increased 400 percent — 1937
 
May 10
Thanks to an army of thousands of Chinese and Irish immigrants, who laid 2,000 miles of track, the nation's first transcontinental railway line was finished by the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific lines at Promontory Point, Utah — 1869
 
A federal bankruptcy judge permits United Airlines to legally abandon responsibility for pensions covering 120,000 employees — 2005
 
May 13
Thousands of yellow cab drivers in New York City go on a 1-day strike in protest of proposed new regulations. "City officials were stunned by the (strike's) success," The New York Times reported — 1998
 
May 14
Milwaukee brewery workers begin a 10-week strike, demanding contracts comparable to East and West Coast workers. The strike was won because Blatz Brewery accepted their demands, but Blatz was ousted from the Brewers Association for "unethical" business methods — 1953
 
May 15
Pope Leo XIII issues revolutionary encyclical 'Rerum novarum' in defense of workers and the right to organize. Forty years later to the day, Pope Pius XI issues 'Quadragesimo anno,' believed by many to be even more radical than Leo XIII's — 1891
 
U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Samuel Gompers and other union leaders for supporting a boycott at the Buck Stove and Range Co. in St. Louis, where workers were striking for a 9-hour day. A lower court had forbidden the boycott and sentenced the unionists to prison for refusing to obey the judge's anti-boycott injunction — 1906
 
The Library Employees' Union is founded in New York City, the first union of public library workers in the United States. A major focus of the union was the inferior status of women library workers and their low salaries — 1917
 
From www.unionist.com.


May 2
First Workers’ Compensation law in U.S. enacted, in Wisconsin — 1911
 
President Herbert Hoover declares that the stock market crash six months earlier was just a "temporary setback" and the economy would soon bounce back. In fact, the Great Depression was to continue and worsen for several more years — 1930
 
German police units occupied all trade union headquarters in the country, arresting union officials and leaders. Their treasuries were confiscated and the unions abolished. Hitler announced that the German Labour Front, headed by his appointee, would replace all unions and look after the working class — 1933
 
May 3
Pete Seeger, folksinger and union activist, born in Patterson, N.Y. Among his songs: “If I Had A Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” — 1919
 
May 4
Haymarket massacre. A bomb is thrown as Chicago police start to break up a rally for strikers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. A riot erupts, 11 police and strikers die, mostly from gunfire, and scores more are injured — 1886
 
May 5
Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are arrested in Boston for murder and payroll robbery. Eventually, they are executed for a crime most believe they did not commit — 1920
 
Heavily armed deputies and other mine owner hirelings attack striking miners in Harlan County, Ky., starting the Battle of Harlan County — 1931
 
John J. Sweeney, president of the Service Employees International Union from 1980 to 1995, then president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009, born in the Bronx, N.Y. — 1934
 
The U.S. unemployment rate drops to a 30-year low of 3.9 percent; the rate for African-Americans and Hispanics is the lowest since the government started tracking such data — 2000
 
May 6
Works Progress Administration (WPA) established at a cost of $4.8 billion — more than $80 billion in 2015 dollars — to provide work opportunities for millions during the Great Depression — 1935
 
May 8
About 200 construction workers in New York City attack a crowd of Vietnam war protesters four days after the Kent State killings. More than 70 people were injured, including four police officers. Peter Brennan, head of the New York building trades, was honored at the Nixon White House two weeks later, eventually named Secretary of Labor — 1970

April 25
The New York Times declares the struggle for an 8-hour workday to be "un-American" and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours "labor disturbances brought about by foreigners." Other publications declare that an eight-hour workday would bring about "loafing and gambling, rioting, debauchery and drunkenness" — 1886

Supreme Court rules that employers may not require female employees to make larger contributions to pension plans in order to obtain the same monthly benefits as men — 1978

April 26
The U.S. House of Representatives passes House Joint Resolution No. 184, a constitutional amendment to prohibit the labor of persons under 18 years of age. The Senate approved the measure a few weeks later, but it was never ratified by the states and is still technically pending — 1924

On the orders of President Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. Army seizes the Chicago headquarters of the unionized Montgomery Ward & Co. after management defies the National Labor Relations Board — 1944

April 27
First strike for 10-hour day, by Boston carpenters — 1825

President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed "sexual perversion" as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants — 1953

April 28
Congress creates OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The AFL-CIO sets April 28 as "Workers Memorial Day" to honor the hundreds of thousands of workers killed and injured on the job every year — 1971

First "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," promoted by the Ms. Foundation, to boost self-esteem of girls with invitations to a parent's workplace — 1993

April 29
Coxey's Army of 500 unemployed Civil War veterans reaches Washington, D.C. — 1894

April 30
The Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board implements new rules to speed up unionization elections. The new rules are largely seen as a counter to employer manipulation of the law to prevent workers from unionizing — 2012

May 1
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones born in County Cork, Ireland — 1830

Eight-hour-day demonstration in Chicago and other cities begins tradition of May Day as international labor holiday — 1886

Mother Jones' 100th birthday celebrated at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md. She died six months later — 1930

New York City's Empire State Building officially opens. Construction involved 3,400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, and hundreds of Mohawk iron workers. Five workers died during construction — 1931

Congress enacts amendments to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, extending protections to the employees of state and local governments—protections which didn't take effect until 1985 because of court challenges and regulation-writing problems — 1974

Rallies in cities across the U.S. for what organizers call "A Day Without Immigrants." An estimated 100,000 immigrants and sympathizers gathered in San Jose, Calif., 200,000 in New York, 400,000 each in Chicago and Los Angeles. In all, there were demonstrations in at least 50 cities — 2006

From www.unionist.com.

 


Feb. 22
Albert Shanker dies at age 68. He served as president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1984 and of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997 — 1997

Feb. 23
W.E.B. DuBois, educator and civil rights activist, born — 1868

William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner began publishing articles on the menace of Japanese laborers, leading to a resolution in the California legislature that action be taken against their immigration — 1904

Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” following a frigid trip — partially by hitchhiking, partially by rail — from California to Manhattan. The Great Depression was still raging. Guthrie had heard Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” and resolved to himself: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it” — 1940

Feb. 24
Congress passes a federal child labor tax law that imposed a 10 percent tax on companies that employ children, defined as anyone under the age of 16 working in a mine/quarry or under the age 14 in a “mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufacturing establishment.” The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional three years later — 1919

Feb. 25
A crowd estimated to be 100,000 strong rallied at the Wisconsin state Capitol in protest of what was ultimately to become a successful push by the state’s Republican majority to cripple public employee bargaining rights — 2011

Feb. 27
Birth of John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif. Steinbeck is best known for writing The Grapes of Wrath, which exposed the mistreatment of migrant farm workers during the Depression and led to some reforms — 1902

The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal — 1939

Feb. 28
U.S. Supreme Court finds that a Utah state law limiting mine and smelter workers to an 8-hour workday is constitutional — 1898


From www.unionist.com.
Feb. 15
Susan B. Anthony, suffragist, abolitionist, labor activist, born in Adams, Mass. "Join the union, girls, and together say: Equal Pay for Equal Work." — 1820

Feb. 16
Beginning of a 17-week general strike of 12,000 New York furriers, in which Jewish workers formed a coalition with Greek and African American workers and became the first union to win a 5-day, 40-hour week — 1926

All public schools in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc., are closed as teachers call in sick to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights — 2011

Feb. 18
One of the first American labor newspapers, The Man, is published in New York City. It cost 1¢ and, according to The History of American Journalism, “died an early death.” Another labor paper, N.Y. Daily Sentinel, had been launched four years earlier — 1834

Feb. 19
The U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc.—the case establishing that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction — 1975

Feb. 20
Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Mass., organize a “turn-out”— a strike — in protest. The action failed. Two years later, they formed the Factory Girls’ Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson — 1834

From www.unionist.com.
Feb. 8
Mary Kenney O'Sullivan is born in Hannibal, Mo. At age 28, she was to be appointed the first female general organizer for the American Federation of Labor by AFL President Samuel Gompers — 1864

Feb. 9
U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy falsely charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. It seems that just about everyone else the Wisconsin senator didn’t like was a Communist as well, including scores of unionists. This was the beginning of "McCarthyism." He ultimately was officially condemned by the Senate and died of alcoholism — 1950

President Kennedy asks Congress to approve creation of the Medicare program, financed by an increase in Social Security taxes, to aid 14.2 million Americans, aged 65 or older — 1961

Feb. 11
Some 1,300 sanitation workers begin what is to become a 64-day strike in Memphis, ultimately winning union recognition and wage increases. The April 4 assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr., who had been taking an active role in mass meetings and street actions, brought pressure on the city to settle the strike — 1968

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announces he will call out the National Guard, if necessary, to deal with any "unrest" among state employees in the wake of his decision to unilaterally end nearly all collective bargaining rights for the workers — 2011

Feb. 13
A national eight-month strike by the Sons of Vulcan, a union of iron forgers, ends in victory when employers agree to a wage scale based on the price of iron bars — the first time employers recognized the union, the first union contract in the iron and steel industry, and what may be the first union contract of any kind in the United States — 1865

Some 12,000 Hollywood writers return to work today following a largely successful three-month strike against television and motion picture studios. They won compensation for their TV and movie work that gets streamed on the Internet — 2008

From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 25
Sojourner Truth addresses first Black Women’s Rights convention - 1851

The Supreme Court upholds “Yellow Dog” employment contracts, which forbid membership in labor unions. Yellow Dog contracts remained legal until 1932 - 1915

Jan. 26
In what could be considered the first workers’ compensation agreement in America, pirate Henry Morgan pledges his underlings 600 pieces of eight or six slaves to compensate for a lost arm or leg. Also part of the pirate’s code, reports Roger Newell: Shares of the booty were equal regardless of race or sex and shipboard decisions were made collectively - 1695

Samuel Gompers, first AFL president, born in London, England. He emigrated to the U.S. as a youth - 1850

Jan. 27
New York City maids organize to improve working conditions - 1734

Pete Seeger dies in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American left, persecuted during the McCarthy era for his support of progressive, labor and civil rights causes. A prolific songwriter, he is generally credited with popularizing the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” He actively participated in demonstrations until shortly before his death – 2014

Jan. 28
First U.S. unemployment compensation law enacted, in Wisconsin - 1932

Jan. 29
Responding to unrest among Irish laborers building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, President Andrew Jackson orders first use of American troops to suppress a labor dispute - 1834

Six thousand railway workers strike for a union and the end of 18-hour day - 1889

Newly-elected President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and minorities to win pay discrimination suits – 2009

Jan. 30
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was elected president of the United States four times starting in 1932. His New Deal programs helped America survive the Great Depression. His legislative achievements included the creation of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to organize unions, bargain collectively, and strike - 1882

Jan. 31
Ida M. Fuller is the first retiree to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security law. She paid in $24.75 between 1937 and 1939 on an income of $2,484; her first check was for $22.54 - 1940

Five months after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school board fires every teacher in the district in what the United Teachers of New Orleans sees as an effort to break the union and privatize the school system - 2005


From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 18
U.S. Supreme Court rules in Moyer v. Peabody that a governor and officers of a state National Guard may imprison anyone—in the case at hand, striking miners in Colorado—without probable cause “in a time of insurrection” and deny the person the right of appeal – 1909
 
Jan. 20
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) founded – 1920
 
Jan. 21
Some 750,000 steelworkers walk out in 30 states, largest strike in U.S. history to that time – 1946
 
Six hundred police attack picketing longshoremen in Charleston, S.C. – 2000
 
Jan. 22
Indian field hands at San Juan Capistrano mission refused to work, engaging in what was probably the first farm worker strike in California – 1826
 
Jan. 23
Some 10,000 clothing workers strike in Rochester, N.Y., for the 8-hour day, a 10-percent wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held 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 over the course of the strike 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 – 1913
 
In Allegany County, MD, workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal era public works program employing unmarried men aged 18-25, are snowbound at Fifteen Mile Creek Camp S-53 when they receive a distress call about a woman in labor who needs to get to a hospital. Twenty courageous CCC volunteers dig through miles of snow drifts until the woman is successfully able to be transported – 1936
 
Jan. 24
Krueger’s Cream Ale, the first canned beer, goes on sale in Richmond, Va. Pabst was the second brewer in the same year to sell beer in cans, which came with opening instructions and the suggestion: "cool before serving" - 1935
 
From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 11
The IWW-organized “Bread & Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children begins in Lawrence, Mass. It lasts 10 weeks and ends in victory. The first millworkers to walk out were Polish women, who, upon collecting their pay, exclaimed that they had been cheated and promptly abandoned their looms — 1912

Jan. 12
Novelist Jack London is born. His classic definition of a scab — someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker's job: "After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles" — 1876

Jan. 15
Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, in Chicago for a demonstration against hunger, completes the writing of the labor anthem “Solidarity Forever” on this date in 1915. He’d begun writing it in 1914 during a miners’ strike in Huntington, W. Va.

The first verse:
When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong — 1915

Seventeen workers in the area die when a large molasses storage tank in Boston’s North End neighborhood bursts, sending a 40-foot wave of molasses surging through the streets at an estimated 35 miles per hour. In all, 21 people died and 150 were injured. The incident is variously known as the Boston Molasses Disaster, the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy. Some residents claim that, on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses — 1919

Martin Luther King Jr. born — 1929

Jan. 17
Radical labor organizer and anarchist Lucy Parsons leads hunger march in Chicago; IWW songwriter Ralph Chaplin wrote "Solidarity Forever" for the march — 1915

President John F. Kennedy signs Executive Order 10988, guaranteeing federal workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively — 1962

From www.unionist.com.
Jan. 5
The nation’s first labor convention of black workers was held in Washington, D.C., with 214 delegates forming the Colored National Labor Union — 1869

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins. Ten of the 11 deaths on the job came when safety netting beneath the site — the first-ever use of such equipment — failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. Nineteen other workers were saved by the net over the course of construction. They became members of the (informal) Halfway to Hell Club — 1933

Jan. 8
The largest slave revolt in U.S. history begins on Louisiana sugar plantations. Slaves armed with hand tools marched toward New Orleans, setting plantations and crops on fire, building their numbers to an estimated 300-500 as they went. The uprising lasted for two days before being brutally suppressed by the military — 1811

Birthdate of Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, first AFL woman organizer. In 1880, she organized the Woman’s Bookbinder Union and in 1903 was a founder of the National Women’s Trade Union League — 1864

Jan. 10
Wobbly organizer and singer Joe Hill allegedly kills two men during a grocery store hold-up in Utah. He ultimately is executed by firing squad (His last word was “Fire!”) for the crime despite much speculation that he was framed — 1914

From www.unionist.com
Dec. 15
The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act becomes law. It bars employment discrimination against anyone aged 40 or older – 1967

Dec. 16
The National Civic Federation is formed by business and labor leaders, most prominently AFL president Sam Gompers, as a vehicle to resolve conflicts between management and labor. Not all unionists agreed with the alliance. The group turned increasingly conservative and labor withdrew after Gompers’ 1924 death – 1900

The Bagel Bakers of America union is continuing a work slowdown at 32 of New York’s 34 bagel bakeries in a dispute over health and welfare fund payments and workplace sanitation, the New York Times reports. Coincidentally — or not — lox sales were down 30 percent to 50 percent as well. The effect on the cream cheese market was not reported – 1951

Dec. 20
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) takes effect today – 1970

Thousands of workers begin what was to be a 2-day strike of the New York City transit system over retirement, pension and wage issues. The strike violated the state’s Taylor Law; Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint was jailed for 10 days and the union was fined $2.5 million – 2005

From www.unionist.com.
Nov. 30
Mother Jones died at the age of 93 at Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md.; “I’m not a lady, I’m a hell-raiser!” — 1930
 
Unionists and activists shut down World Trade Organization meeting, Seattle, Wash. — 1999
 
Dec. 1
The Ford Motor Co. introduces the continuous moving assembly line which can produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes — 1913
 
African-American Rosa Parks refuses to go to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus, fueling the growing civil rights movement's campaign to win desegregation and end the deep South's "Jim Crow" laws — 1955
 
Dec. 2
Court documents filed in Boston say Walmart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meal breaks, manipulated time cards and refused to pay overtime — 2009
 
Dec. 3
At least 4,000 people die, and as many as 20,000, in one of the largest industrial disasters on record. It happened in Bhopal, India, when poisonous methyl isocyante was released into the atmosphere at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant. The results of investigations by Union Carbide and the government were never released to the public; one authoritative independent study laid blame at the feet of Union Carbide for its failures on training, staffing, safety and other issues — 1984
 
Arrests began today in Middleton, N.J., of teachers striking in violation of a no-strike law. Ultimately, 228 educators were jailed for up to seven days before they were released following the Middleton Township Education Association's agreement to take the dispute to mediation — 2001
 
Dec. 4
President Roosevelt announces the end of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), concluding the four-year run of one of the American government's most ambitious public works programs. It helped create jobs for roughly 8.5 million people during the Great Depression and left a legacy of highways and public buildings, among other public gains — 1943
 
Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers' grape boycott  — 1970
 
Dec. 6
African-American delegates meet in Washington, D.C., to form the Colored National Labor Union as a branch of the all-White National Labor Union created three years earlier. Unlike the NLU, the CNLU welcomed members of all races. Isaac Myers was the CNLU's founding president; Frederick Douglass became president in 1872 — 1869
 
The Washington Monument is completed in Washington, D.C. On the interior of the monument are 193 commemorative stones, donated by numerous governments and organizations from all over the world; one of them is from the International Typographical Union, founded in 1852. In 1986, the ITU merged into the Communications Workers of America — 1884
 
From www.unionist.com.
Nov. 17
The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York is founded "to provide cultural, educational and social services to families of skilled craftsmen." The Society remains in existence to this day — 1785

To the huge relief of Post Office Department employees, the service sets a limit of 200 pounds a day to be shipped by any one customer. Builders were finding it cheaper to send supplies via post than via wagon freight. In one instance, 80,000 bricks for a new bank were shipped parcel post from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah, 170 miles away. The new directive also barred the shipment of humans: A child involved in a couple’s custody fight was shipped – for 17¢ – from Stillwell to South Bend, Ind., in a crate labeled “live baby” — 1916

Nov. 20
First use of term “scab,” by Albany Typographical Society — 1816

The time clock is invented by Willard Bundy, a jeweler in Auburn, N.Y. Bundy’s brother, Harlow, starts mass producing them a year later — 1888

Nov. 21
Staten Island and Brooklyn are linked by the new Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time and still the longest in the U.S. Joseph Farrell, an apprentice Ironworker on the project, told radio station WNYC: "The way the wind blows over this water, it would blow you right off the iron. That was to me and still is the most treacherous part of this business. When the wind grabs you on the open iron, it can be very dangerous." Three workers died over the course of the 5-year project — 1964

The promise of telecommuting arrives when the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network – ARPANET, the beginnings of the global Internet – is established when a permanent link is created between the University of California at Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. — 1969

Congress approves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to take effect Jan. 1 of the following year — 1993

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act takes effect in the nation’s workplaces. It prohibits employers from requesting genetic testing or considering someone’s genetic background in hiring, firing or promotions — 2009

Nov. 22
“The Uprising of the 20,000.” Some 20,000 female garment workers are on strike in New York; Judge tells arrested pickets: “You are on strike against God.” The walkout, believed to be the first major successful strike by female workers in American history, ended the following February with union contracts bringing better pay and working conditions — 1909

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Generally considered a friend of labor, Kennedy, a year earlier, had issued Executive Order 10988, which authorized unionization and a limited form of collective bargaining rights for most federal workers (excluding the Department of Defense). Many states followed the example set by Kennedy — 1963

From www.unionist.com.
Nov. 9
Committee for Industrial Organization founded by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. The eight wanted more focus on organizing mass production industry workers — 1935

Nov. 11
Haymarket martyrs hanged, convicted in the bombing deaths of eight police during a Chicago labor rally — 1887

A confrontation between American Legionnaires and Wobblies during an Armistice Day Parade in Centralia, Wash., results in six deaths. One Wobbly reportedly was beaten, his teeth bashed in with a rifle butt, castrated and hanged: local officials listed his death as a suicide — 1919

Nov. 12
Ellis Island in New York closes after serving as the gateway for 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924. From 1924 to 1954, it was mostly used as a detention and deportation center for undocumented immigrants — 1954

Nov. 13
The Holland Tunnel opens, running under the Hudson River for 1.6 miles and connecting the island of Manhattan in New York City with Jersey City, N.J. Thirteen workers died over its 7-year-long construction — 1927

Nov. 14
Women’s Trade Union League founded, Boston — 1903

The National Federation of Telephone Workers — later to become the Communications Workers of America — is founded in New Orleans — 1938

Jimmy Carter-era OSHA publishes standard reducing permissible exposure of lead, protecting 835,000 workers from damage to nervous, urinary and reproductive systems — 1978

Nov. 15
Founding convention of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions is held in Pittsburgh. It urges enactment of employer liability, compulsory education, uniform apprenticeship and child and convict labor laws. Five years later, it changes its name to the American Federation of Labor — 1881

From www.unionist.com.
Nov. 2
Railroad union leader and socialist Eugene V. Debs receives nearly a million votes for president while imprisoned — 1920

Nov. 4
Populist humorist Will Rogers was born on this day near Oologah, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). One of his many memorable quotes: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” — 1879

Nov. 5
Eugene V. Debs, labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president and first president of the American Railway Union, born — 1855

Nov. 7
President Eisenhower’s use of the Taft-Hartley Act is upheld by the Supreme Court, breaking a 116-day steel strike — 1959

Lemuel Ricketts Boulware dies in Delray Beach, Fla., at age 95. As a GE vice president in the 1950s he created the policy known as Boulwarism, in which management decides what is "fair" and refuses to budge on anything during contract negotiations. IUE President Paul Jennings described the policy as "telling the workers what they are entitled to and then trying to shove it down their throats." — 1990

Nov. 8
President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces plans for the Civil Works Administration to create 4 million additional jobs for the Depression-era unemployed. The workers ultimately laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America) — 1933

From www.unionist.com.
Oct. 26
After eight years and at least 1,000 worker deaths — mostly Irish immigrants — the 350-mile Erie Canal opens, linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Father John Raho wrote to his bishop that "so many die that there is hardly any time to give Extreme Unction (last rites) to everybody. We run night and day to assist the sick." — 1825
 
Oct. 27
The New York City subway, the first rapid-transit system in America, opens. More than 100 workers died during the construction of the first 13 miles of tunnels and track — 1904
 
Oct. 28
Union organizer and anarchist Luisa Capetillo is born in Ariecibo, Puerto Rico. She organized tobacco and other agricultural workers in Puerto Rico and later in New York and Florida. In 1916 she led a successful sugar cane strike of more than 40,000 workers on the island. She demanded that her union endorse voting rights for women. In 1919, three years before her death, she was arrested for wearing pants in public, the first woman in Puerto Rico to do so. The charges were dropped — 1879
 
Oct. 29
Wall Street crashes — "Black Tuesday" — throwing the world's economy into a years-long crisis including an unemployment rate in the U.S. that by 1933 hit nearly 25 percent — 1929
 
Oct. 30
Ed Meese, attorney general in the Ronald Reagan administration, urges employers to begin spying on workers "in locker rooms, parking lots, shipping and mail room areas and even the nearby taverns" to try to catch them using drugs — 1986
 
Oct. 31
George Henry Evans publishes the first issue of the Working Man’s Advocate, “edited by a Mechanic” for the “useful and industrious classes” in New York City. He focused on the inequities between the “portion of society living in luxury and idleness” and those “groaning under the oppressions and miseries imposed on them.” — 1829
 
After 14 years of labor by 400 stone masons, the Mt. Rushmore sculpture is completed in Keystone, S.D. — 1941
 
Nov. 1
In the nation’s first general strike for a 10-hour day, 300 armed Irish longshoremen marched through the streets of Philadelphia calling on other workers to join them. Some 20,000 did, from clerks to bricklayers to city employees and other occupations. The city announced a 10-hour workday within the week; private employers followed suit three weeks later — 1835
 

From www.unionist.com
Oct. 20
Eugene V. Debs, U.S. labor leader and socialist, dies in Elmhurst, Ill. Among his radical ideas: an 8-hour workday, pensions, workers’ compensation, sick leave and social security. He ran for president from a jail cell in 1920 and got a million votes – 1926

Hollywood came under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened hearings into alleged Communist influence within the motion picture industry. Dozens of union members were among those blacklisted as a result of HUAC’s activities – 1947

Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan writes to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorses Reagan, "I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety." He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election, he fired the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions – 1980

Two track workers are killed in a (San Francisco) Bay Area Rapid Transit train accident. Federal investigators said the train was run by a BART employee who was being trained as an operator as members of the Amalgamated Transit Union were participating in what was to be a four-day strike – 2013

Oct. 23
President Theodore Roosevelt establishes a fact-finding commission that suspends a nine-months-long strike by Western Pennsylvania coal miners fighting for better pay, shorter workdays and union recognition. The strikers ended up winning more pay for fewer hours, but failed to get union recognition. It was the first time that the federal government had intervened as a neutral arbitrator in a labor dispute – 1902

Oct. 24
The 40-hour work week goes into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed by President Roosevelt two years earlier – 1940

Oct. 25
What many believe to be the first formal training on first aid in American history took place at the Windsor Hotel in Jermyn, Penn., when Dr. Matthew J. Shields instructed 25 coal miners on ways to help their fellow miners. Upon completion of the course each of the miners was prepared and able to render first aid. The training led to marked decreases in serious mining injuries and fatalities – 1899

John Sweeney, president of the Service Employees International Union, elected president of AFL-CIO – 1995


From www.unionist.com.

Oct. 13
American Federation of Labor votes to boycott all German-made products as a protest against Nazi antagonism to organized labor within Germany — 1934

Oct. 15

President Woodrow Wilson signs the Clayton Antitrust Act — often referred to as "Labor’s Magna Carta"— establishing that unions are not "conspiracies" under the law. It, for the first time, freed unions to strike, picket and boycott employers. In the years that followed however, numerous state measures and negative court interpretations weakened the law — 1914

Oct. 16
Abolitionist John Brown leads 18 men, including five free blacks, in an attack on the Harper's Ferry ammunition depot, the beginning of guerilla warfare against slavery — 1859

Oct. 17
A huge vat ruptures at a London brewery, setting off a domino effect of similar ruptures, and what was to become known as The London Beer Flood. Nearly 1.5 million liters of beer gushed into the streets drowning or otherwise causing the deaths of eight people, mostly poor people living in nearby basements — 1814

Oct. 18
The "Shoemakers of Boston"— the first labor organization in what would later become the United States — was authorized by the Massachusetts Bay Colony — 1648

New York City agrees to pay women school teachers a rate equal to that of men — 1911


From www.unionist.com.


Oct. 5
Polish Solidarity union founder Lech Walesa wins the Nobel Peace Prize — 1983

Oct. 6
First National Conference of Trade Union Women — 1918

The first “talkie” movie, The Jazz Singer, premiers in New York City. Within three years, according to the American Federation of Musicians, theater jobs for some 22,000 musicians who accompanied silent movies were lost, while only a few hundred jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created by the new technology — 1927

Some 1,700 female flight attendants win 18-year, $37 million suit against United Airlines. They had been fired for getting married — 1986

Oct. 7
Joe Hill, labor leader and songwriter, born in Gavle, Sweden — 1879

Oct. 8
Thirty of the city's 185 firefighters are injured battling the Great Chicago Fire, which burned for three days — 1871

In Poland, the union Solidarity and all other labor organizations are banned by the government — 1982

Oct. 9
Retail stock brokerage Smith Barney reaches a tentative sexual harassment settlement with a group of female employees. The suit charged, among other things, that branch managers asked female workers to remove their tops in exchange for money and one office featured a "boom boom room" where women workers were encouraged to "entertain clients." The settlement was never finalized: A U.S. District Court judge refused to approve the deal because it failed to adequately redress the plaintiff's grievances — 1997

Oct. 11
The Miners’ National Association is formed in Youngstown, Ohio, with the goal of uniting all miners, regardless of skill or ethnic background — 1873

From www.unionist.com.


 

Sept. 28
The International Workingmen’s Association is founded in London. It was an international organization trying to unite a variety of different left-wing, Socialist, Communist and Anarchist political groups and unions. It functioned for about 12 years, growing to a membership declared to be 8 million, before being disbanded at its Philadelphia conference in 1876, victim of infighting brought on by the wide variety of members’ philosophies — 1864

Sept. 30
A total of 29 strike leaders are charged with treason — plotting "to incite insurrection, rebellion and war against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"— for daring to strike the Carnegie Steel Co. in Homestead, Pa. Jurors refuse to convict them — 1892

Black farmers meet in Elaine, Ark., to establish the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices. They are shot at by a group of whites, and return the fire. News of the confrontation spread and a riot ensued, leaving at least 100, perhaps several hundred, blacks dead and 67 indicted for inciting violence — 1919

Cesar Chavez, with Dolores Huerta, co-founds the National Farm Workers Association, which later was to become the United Farm Workers of America — 1962

Oct. 1
The George Washington Bridge officially opens, spanning the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. Thirteen workers died during the four-year construction project for what at the time was the longest main span in the world — 1931

Oct. 2
American Federation of Labor officially endorses campaign for a 6-hour day, 5-day work week — 1934

Starbucks Workers Union baristas at an outlet in East Grand Rapids, Mich., organized by the Wobblies, win their grievances after the National Labor Relations Board cites the company for labor law violations, including threats against union activists — 2007

Union members, progressives and others rally in Washington D.C., under the Banner of One Nation Working Together, demand “good jobs, equal justice, and quality education for all.” Crowd estimates range from tens of thousands to 200,000 — 2010

Oct. 3
The state militia is called in after 164 high school students in Kincaid, Ill., go on strike when the school board buys coal from the scab Peabody Coal Co. — 1932

Oct. 4
Work begins on the carving of Mt. Rushmore, a task 400 craftsmen would eventually complete in 1941. Despite the dangerous nature of the project, not one worker died — 1927

From www.unionist.com.


 

Sept. 21
Mother Jones leads a march of miners' children through the streets of Charleston, W. Va. – 1912
 
Members of five unions at the Frontier Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas begin what was to become the longest successful hotel strike in U.S. history. All 550 workers honored the picket line for the entirety of the 6-year, 4-month, 10-day fight against management’s insistence on cutting wages and eliminating pensions – 1991
 
Sept. 22
Emancipation Proclamation signed – 1862
 
Eleven Domino's employees in Pensacola, Fla., form the nation's first union of pizza delivery drivers – 2006
 
Sept. 23
California Gov. Gray Davis (D) signs legislation making the state the first to offer workers paid family leave – 2002
 
Sept. 26
The first production Ford Model T leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Mich. It was the first car ever manufactured on an assembly line, with interchangeable parts. The auto industry was to become a major U.S. employer, accounting for as many as one of every eight to 10 jobs in the country – 1908
 
Sept. 27
Striking textile workers in Fall River, Mass., demand bread for their starving children – 1875
 
The International Typographical Union renews a strike against the Los Angeles Times; a boycott runs intermittently from 1896 to 1908. A local anti-Times committee in 1903 persuades William Randolph Hearst to start a rival paper, the Los Angeles Examiner. Although the ITU kept up the fight into the 1920s, the Times remained totally nonunion until 2009, when the GCIU—now the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters — organized the pressroom – 1893
 
International Ladies' Garment Workers Union begins strike against Triangle Shirtwaist Co. This would become the "Uprising of the 20,000," resulting in 339 of 352 struck firms — but not Triangle — signing agreements with the union. The Triangle fire that killed 246 would occur less than two years later – 1909
 
Twenty-nine west coast ports lock out 10,500 workers in response to what management says is a worker slowdown in the midst of negotiations on a new contract. The ports are closed for 10 days, but reopen when President George W. Bush invokes the Taft-Hartley Act – 2002
 
From www.unionist.com.


Congress passes the Landrum-Griffin Act. The law expands many of the anti-labor provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, increasing union reporting requirements and restricting secondary boycotting and picketing – 1959

Sept. 16
Richard Trumka is elected president of the AFL-CIO at the federation’s convention in Pittsburgh. He had served as the secretary-treasurer under predecessor John Sweeney from 1995 to 2009, and prior to that was president of the United Mine Workers for 13 years – 2009

Sept. 17
At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony calls for the formation of a Working Women's Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote – 1868

Some Depression-era weekly paychecks around the New York area: physician, $55.32; engineer, $40.68; clerk, $22.15; salesman, $25.02; laborer, $20; typist, $15.09 – 1933

The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a 2-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.” – 2011

Sept. 20
Upton Sinclair, socialist and author of The Jungle — published on this day in 1906 — born in Baltimore, Md. – 1878

According to folklorist John Garst, steel-drivin’ man John Henry, born a slave, outperformed a steam hammer on this date at the Coosa Mountain Tunnel or the Oak Mountain Tunnel of the Columbus and Western Railway (now part of the Norfolk Southern) near Leeds, Ala. Other researchers place the contest near Talcott, W. Va. – 1887

From www.unionist.com.