Labor Movement

Timeline created by tom r
In History
  • Period: to

    Labor Movement

  • Initial "newsworthy" conflict

    The closest resemblance to a conflict based on the subject of labor was discovered to have occurred as early as 1806. Tradesmen and shoe makers were arrested, tried and convicted on charges of criminal conspiracy for refusing to work and preventing others from entering the workplace (Unknown, n.d.). Sounds like some of the first labor based picketing practices.
  • The Workmen's Party is formed

    From 1828 to 1830 a political party known as the Workingmen’s Party was formed. Some of the issues the party’s leaders brought to the forefront included; universal male suffrage, educational opportunities, protection from debtor imprisonment, financial security, the establishment of a mechanic’s lien system and shorter work days
  • First formal union was formed

    1833 carpenter tradesmen decided to strike in order to obtain a higher wage. This event is the first recorded where other trades supported the strike and refused to work until the carpenter’s demands were met. This coalition of tradesmen is the first demonstrated collective unity between workers. This event created the General Trades Union of New York
  • 10 hour work day was adopted for privatized companies

    By 1836 the 10 hour work day became common place with exception for federal workers. That year; east coast naval ship makers struck in order to receive equal / fair treatment.
  • President Van Buren adopts 10 hour day for federal employees

    In 1840; President Van Buren passed legislation for the federal workers.
  • Arrests overturned

    The criminal conspiracy aspect of these initial actions from 1806 was overturned in 1842 by the Massachusetts Supreme Court; this judicial act permitted workers to organize.
  • Commonwealth v. Hunt

    1842; Commonwealth v. Hunt declared that unionization of workers and striking were lawful (“Commonwealth v. Hunt (law case) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia,” n.d.). As these events have unfolded; the government of the United States is beginning to be drawn into matters concerning labor and can no longer defer the responsibility of establishing fair workforce practices to the business owners.
  • Molly Maguire's

    Pennsylvania coal mining was difficult work during these times. Conditions were so bad that a group comprised mostly of Irish immigrants banded together to enact change after 179 coal miners died in a fire. Unfortunately their methods included, murder, robbing and arson. In 1877; after Allen Pinkerton inserted a spy into the ranks of the Molly Maguire’s, 10 men were apprehended and hung for murder. This ended the reign of the Molly Maguire’s but not the spirit.
  • The first Labor Day

    On September 3rd (Labor Day); take a moment and reflect about these people. This holiday was created on September 5, 1882 by the building trade unions to recognize the grandeur that was created by the commoners who constructed our cities and nation
  • Haymarket Riots: Day One

    The Haymarket Riots of Chicago was originally an organized protest against poor working conditions, worker safety, the 60 – 72 hour work week and low pay. On May 3, 1886 protesters and striking employees were disbanded by police trying to protect the strikebreakers. The main issue surrounding this protest was establishing an 8 hour work day. The toll from this altercation was one dead and several injured.
  • Haymarket Riots: Day Two

    The next day approximately 2000 people gathered at the Haymarket Square to protest police brutality. Police disregarded orders to stand down and began to disburse the crowd. A pipe bomb was set off and 7 Police officers were killed and several others injured. Police retaliated by shooting into the crowd and killed 4 attendees.
  • Haymarket Riots: Aftermath

    8 “anarchists” were tried and 7 convicted; 4 of which were hung in 1887
  • Formation of the United Mine Workers (Molly Maguire's)

    By 1890 the United Mine Workers Union was formed.
  • Sherman Antitrust Act passed

    In 1890 the government passed the Sherman Antitrust Act authorizing the federal government to use any methods available to prevent the formation of trusts that is resistant to trade.
  • Pullman Strike / conflict

    In 1894 the Pullman Strike was staged as protest to wage cuts combined with high rents on company owned properties. The union refused to work with the Pullman cars on the railroads and is suspected to have overturned a mail car that was sent to deliver a return to work injunction. President Cleveland ordered 2500 federal troops to break up the organizers and force them back to work. This took a week’s time and unions begin to believe that the Sherman Antitrust Act was more of a tool to be use
  • Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle

    The book is considered a fictional work today and the author’s intent at the time was to promote Socialism during the Industrial Revolution period of American history. It is speculated that Sinclair blended factual situations with fictional characters; making the tale believable. What occurred after publication of the novel wasn’t a stimulus for political reforms; it was an uprising of concern for the food industry and the health and welfare of workers.
  • President Taft vetoes bill surrounding illiteracy

    In 1913 President Taft vetoed a bill that limited illiterate immigrant workers from obtaining work. He declared that illiteracy is not a condition of character, but rather a result of lack of opportunity
  • Clayton Antitrust Act

    The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 neutralized the Sherman Antitrust Act be declaring that unions and their actions were no violations of such acts.
  • The Adamson Act

    The Adamson Act of 1916 provided benefits to railroad workers that included 8-hour workdays
  • The Worker's Compensation Act

    The Workers Compensation Act was also passed providing protection for those that were injured while performing their job at work.
  • National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA)

    Labor Movement reforms included the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NRA) encouraging the formation of bargaining units, maximizing work hours and establish minimum wage standards.
  • Wagner Act / Creation of the NLRB

    Many components of the NRA were transferred into the Wagner Act of 1935; but one of the largest impacts obtained from the Wagner Act is the formation of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is still in existence and their primary function is to address labor complaints and arbitrate union negotiations that are at an impasse. The existence and authority of the NLRB has been challenged in the Supreme Court by business owners; only to have lost in litigation.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act

    The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was passed to “eliminate labor conditions that were detrimental in maintaining a minimum standard of living for health, efficiency and well-being.” (Unknown, n.d.). This act officially saw the creation of the 40 hour work week and a set minimum wage scale ($.40 per hour by 1945). 8 hour work days were finally a reality; 50 years after the Haymarket Riots, which was the main goal these labor organizers were trying to get adopted.
  • The Taft-Harley Act

    World War 2 brought a reduction in wages and hours plants and factories operated. The War also brought an increase in product prices creating hardships for many working families. Unions organized strikes and the conflict created an anti-union movement amongst most Americans. The Taft-Harley Act was passed in 1947 which made unions liable for damages caused by breaches of contract, forbidding closed shop practices, a 60 “cooling off period” before striking and forbid political contributions by
  • The creation of OSHA

    In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created by Congress. The goal of the organization was to protect workers in the workplace. Their philosophy is that no worker should have to choose between their life and their job.
  • Jimmy Hoffa disappears