1917 iww

History of Labor Unions

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    1636 Fisherman's Strike

    In 1636, there was a fishing strike on a small island off the coast of Maine. This was very insignificant, so that is all the information that has been gathered on this topic.
  • New York City Carmen Strike

    In 1677, a group of carmen were fined for going on strike. This is significant because it represents how labor unions could possibly be unsuccessful. Instead of helping themselves, they got themselves fined.
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    Beginnings of Strikes and 10 Hour Work Day

    Workers fought the 10 hour work day. They argued that reduced hours would lessen production, increase costs, and demoralize the workers. President Van Buren established the 10 hour work day for federal employees on public works. In years to follow, many states reduced hours. Day laborers learned their best tool was to strike. Dozens of strikes errupted in the 1830s and 40s, most for the 10 hour work day and increased wages. Efforts created some 30,000 trade unionists by 1830.
  • National Labor Union (NLU) created

    National Labor Union (NLU) created
    The NLU was a labor union formed that called for an 8 hour work day, an end to convict labor, and restrictions on immigrants entering America. It was somewhat supportive of women and black workers. It was led by William Sylvis, and it was the first majot workers union within the country. The Panic of 1873 killed the union when workers' rights were put on hold because the depression made people need the money no matter the conditions they were working under.
  • Knights of Labor created

    Knights of Labor created
    The Knights of Labor were very idelistic and accepted women and blacks. They supported temperance, equal pay for women, graduated income tax, and an end to convict labor. It was led by Uriah Stephens and later Terrence Powderly. They opposed strikes and focused on legislative reforms so everyone, whether or not they went on strike, was helped. They won a significant strike against Jay Gould's railroad and helped win passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It was killed by Haymarket Square.
  • The Great Railroad Strike

    The Great Railroad Strike
    The Great Railroad Strike (also known as the Great Upheaval) was a nationwide strike affecting all of the United States. It was caused by worker's pay being lowered. Eventually the government had to intervene in order to stop the strike.
  • Haymarket Affair

    Haymarket Affair
    At first, all that was taking place at Haymarket Square was peaceful rallying. Workers had banned together to try and convince their employers to offer them an eight hour work day. A bomb went off, and police opened fire on the strikers. Several people were killed and arrested by the end of the whole event.
  • American Federation of Labor (AFL) created

    American Federation of Labor (AFL) created
    The AFL was a labor union created only for skilled workers and was not interested in broad reform. It was not interested in helping women or blacks and eventually supported an 8 hour work day. The group was led by Samuel Gompers (pictured) and became involved in politics in the early 1900's.
  • United Mine Workers of America created

    United Mine Workers of America created
    The United Mine Workers of America was created from the merger of the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union. Mary Harris Jones persuaded many to join this union, and it was one of the most successful during the time.
  • Homestead Strike

    Homestead Strike
    The Homestead Strike took place at Andrew Carnegie's steel plant. All throughout the strike, Cargegie was away in Scotland. Worker's wages were cut by the manager, named Henry Clay Frick. Frick armed the factory, and workers began vandalizing property and violence broke out. The Pinkertons (private security guards) were called in as an attempt to break up the strikers. Both sides open fire and the Pinkertons were forced to retreat. After their defeat, the National Guard was called in.
  • American Railway Union (ARU)

    American Railway Union (ARU)
    The American Raiway Union was a labor union that joined all workers in the railroad industry. After the depression of 1893, Pullman cut wages without reducing rents and thousands of workers joined the ARU. Led by Eugene Debs, they went on strike. (Pullman Strike)
  • Coxey's Army

    Coxey's Army
    Coxey's Army was when unemployeed Americans led by Jacob Coxey marched in Washington D.C. Its purposed served to protest against unemployment that was brought on by the Panic of 1893 and wanted the government to create more jobs and for workers to be paid in paper currency. .
  • Pullman Strike

    Pullman Strike
    The Pullman Strike occured when the Pullman Palace Car Company laid off workers and cut the remaining workers pay. They already received little pay. After their paychecks shrank, the rents for their housing in the company town did not. This resulted in workers going on strike against George Pullman. Eventually, the government intervented and resorted to violence to put an end to the strike.
  • Industrial Workers of the World (IWW/"Wobblies")

    Industrial Workers of the World (IWW/"Wobblies")
    The IWW was founded in Chicago. Its leader was William "Big Bill" Haywood, and the union was known to target the most exploited workers. It drew about 30,000 western miners, lumberman, fruit pickers, and itinerant laborers. They led strikes of Nevada miners, Minnesota iron workers, and timber workers in Louisiana and other parts of the Northwest. The labor union had an exaggerated reputation for violence and wanted to overthrow capitalism. They often faced government harassment.
  • War Labor Board (WLB) *not to be confused with the National War Labor Board*

    War Labor Board (WLB) *not to be confused with the National War Labor Board*
    The WLB as well as the Railroad Administration encouraged workers to join unions and guarentteed the right to bargain with management. The WLB also pressured and encouraged factory owners to diminish the 8 hour work day, child labor, and to open their factories and plants to safety and sanitary inspections. The WLB created a huge jump in memberships from 2.7 million in 1916 to 5 million by 1920. Because of their efforts, many states also passed wage, hour, and other laws that benefited workers.
  • IWW Strike Response

    IWW Strike Response
    In Bisbee, Arizona in July of 1917 2,000 armed citizens who called themselves the Citizens Protective League forced 1,200 striking miners, some of which were part of the IWW, onto a frieght train. They brought them out in New Mexico desert and left them there with no food, water, or shelter. This showed how the war weakened the progressive idea of labor and workplace reform.
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    Labor Unions Weaken

    The war weakened progressive efforts as seen in the labor unions. Overall wages actually increased during this timespan which reduced the urge to join a union. Managers also found ways to intimidate workers such as evicting them from their company houses and using violence. Antiradical ideas lingered from the wartime and most strikers and unions were considered "communist" whether or not they actually were. African Americans were also still discriminated against by unions.
  • Farmer's Holiday Association

    Farmer's Holiday Association
    The Farmer's Holiday Association was composed of farmers who would force sale prices up by witholding grain and livestock from the market.
  • General Motors Strike

    General Motors Strike
    Infuenced by the CIO, the anti-union business of General Motors experienced striking workers in Flint, Michigan. The workers used the "sit-down" strategy, where they simply stopped working and occupied the factory.
  • Committee for Industrial Organization

    Committee for Industrial Organization
    The CIO was created by John L. Lewis of The United Mine Workers and Sidney Hillman of the Aglamated Clothing Workers. They mainly went around to auto plants, rubber factories, and textile mills preaching for unionization. However, in 1937, they striked in order to unionize the steel industry.
  • United Automobile Workers

    United Automobile Workers
    General Motors signed for the recognition of the United Automobile Workers (UAF)
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations

    Congress of Industrial Organizations
    In 1938, the Committee of Industrial Organization broke from the American Federation of Labor to become the Congress of Industrial Organization. The new CIO was a 2 million member association of industrial union
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations

    Congress of Industrial Organizations
    In 1938, the Committee for Industrial Organization broke with the AFL to create the Congress of Industrial Organizations. It was a 2-million member association of industrial unions. As a response, the AFL also began to adapt to the changed labor force. Union membership overall grew from under 3 million in 1933 to over 8 million in 1942.
  • National War Labor Board (NWLB)

    National War Labor Board (NWLB)
    (Created by Woodrow Wilson in 1918, but was disbanded in 1919.) The National War Labor Board mediated disputes between management and labor during World War II. It also attempted to limit wage increases to restrain inflation, but unions negotiated unprecedented fringe benefits for workers, including paid vacation and health and pension plans.
  • War Production Board (WPB)

    War Production Board (WPB)
    The War Production Board was created by Roosevelt to allocate materials, limit the production of civilian goods, and distribute contracts between workers and companies. Its main purpose was to help the country produce as much wartime matieral it could in short periods of time to help the cause.
  • Smith-Connally War Labor Disputes act

    Smith-Connally War Labor Disputes act
    After Pearl Harbor most workers honored a "no strike" pledge. However some wildcat strikes still occured. (Less than 1/10th of 1% of wartime working hours was lost to wildcat strikes.) Congress passed the Smith-Connally act over Roosevelt's veto. It empowered the president to take over any facility where strikes threatened war production.
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    Strikes During Truman's Administration

    Sharp price rises and small paychecks caused more than 4.5 million workers to strike. The United Mine Workers paralyzed the economy for 40 days but returned, and not long after railway engineers and trainman announced they would shut down the nation's railroad system for the first time ever. Truman asked for authority to to draft workers who struck in vital industries, but the laborers gave in.
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    Strikes During Truman's Administration

    More than 4.5 million workers went on strike in response to the inflation and as a demand for higher wages. A United Mine Workers strike paralyzed the economy for 40 days and Truman ordered the army to seize the mines, and pressured owners to meet the union's demands and they returned to work but walked out 6 months later. Railway engineers and trainment threatened to shut down the railroad systm for the first time ever.Truman asked Congress for permission to replace the workers but they never.
  • Taft Hartley/ Labor Management Relations Act

    Taft Hartley/ Labor Management Relations Act
    This act barredthe closed shop, outlawed secondary boycotts, required union officials to sign anticommunist loyalty oaths, and permitted the president to call a "cooling off" period to delay strikes that mght endager national health or safety. The act weakened organizing drives in the nonunion South and West, hastened the relocation of labor intensive industries such as textile, and drove leaders out of the CIO, weakening organized labor as a force for social justice.
  • AFL and CIO merger

    AFL and CIO merger
    The AFL and CIO merged in 1955 and brought 85% of union members into a single federaton. The CIO was formed under the United Mine Workers president John L. Lewis due to disapproval of the AFL's beliefs and lack of organization of workers. After the war, the CIO's main purpose (efficient organization of industrial workers to ensure maxium production) no longer existed. The explusion of communists eventually was the start of the CIO's decline that led to the merger.
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    Labor Unions Weaken Drastically

    Industrial jobs were decreasing and being moved over seas. In 1960, 31% of US workers belonged to unions, by 1990 about 16% were. Numbers kept declining for years to come. Some workers did join unions like teachers. Service-sector slowed but did not reverse the overall decline.
  • Reagan; PATCO strike

    Reagan; PATCO strike
    Reagan has little sympathy for organized labor. When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organizationwent on strike, he invoked the Taft-Harlet law againt strikes by federal employees and ordered them back to work. When the memebrs defied the order, Regan fired them and barred them permanently from federal employment.

    Congress, under Clinton, passes the North American Free Trade Alliance. It would attempt to establish a free trade zone between Canada and Mexico. People like Ross Perot warned that this would cause US jobs to be tranferred to Mexico, but it was bakced by most bankers and economists who predicted a net job gain as Mexican markets opened to the US.
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    Decrease in Union Participation

    Only 13.5% of the labor force was unionized in 2000, eroding this means by which workers had historically bettered their wages and job conditions. As unions grew weaker, protests by labor leaders failed to prevent the ratification of the 1993 NAFTA treaty.
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    Worsening of Labor Involvement

    In 2007, union membership sank to only 12% of the labor force, leaving workers more vulnerable. The recession that hit in 2008 worsened the impact of this long term trend.