Labor Union History

  • Lowell-Mills Riot

    Lowell-Mills Riot
    Some eight hundred Lowell mill women quit work in 1834 to protest a wage reduction. Two years later, there was another "turnout," this time invloving fifteen hundred to two tousand women. These were the largest strikes in American history to that date, notweworthy as strikes not only of employees against employers but also of women against men. Picture: women strikers in the early 19th century.
  • Iron Molders' International Union

    Iron Molders' International Union
    An organization of iron-foundry workers. Originally led by William H. Sylvis who became president of the club until he went on to lead the National Labor Union in 1866. (Photo: William H. Sylvis)
  • National Labor Union (NLU)

    National Labor Union (NLU)
    Also led by William Sylvis. The National Labor Union reflected the lingering aura of pre-Civil War utopianism, which called for an eight hour workday. It also called for the establishment of a federal department of labor, an end to convict labor, and for currency and banking reform. The NLU supported black and women workers however it endorsed the restriction on immigration. (Picture: A boycott sign on Chinese immigration.)
  • Knights of Labor

    Knights of Labor
    Founded and led by Uriah Stephens. Welcomed all wage earners but excluded lawyers, doctors, bankers, stockbrokers, etc. The Knights demanded cooperative employer-employee ownership of factories and businesses. In 1880, Terrence Powederly took over the Union, helping the progress of the Knights. Supported organized producer and consumer cooperatives rather than riots and strikes. Defeated Jay Gould and the Wabash Railroad Company in 1885. Supported blacks and women. (Picture: Terrence Powederly)
  • American Federation of Labor (AFL)

    American Federation of Labor (AFL)
    Led by Samuel Gompers who believed in "bread and butter" unionism. He believed higher wages were not simply an end in themselves, but were rather the necessary base to enable working-class families to exist decently, with respect and dignity. To stand up to large companies, Gompers believed labor would have to harness the bargaining power of skilled workers, whom employers could not easily replace, and concentrate on the practical goals of raising wages and reducing hours. (Picture: AFL symbol)
  • Haymarket Affair

    Haymarket Affair
    In Haymarket Square in Chicago and started as a rally for striking labor workers. They all met up, but this attracted the police. As the police ordered the group to disperce a bomb went off in Haymarket Square starting chaos. The bomb killed many workers and eight police officers. The image is a picture showing the scene of the riot, Haymarket Square in Chicago
  • American Railway Union (ARU)

    American Railway Union (ARU)
    Led by Eugene V. Debs. The ARU was created in result to George Pullman's reducing of wages. They then went on to strike against Pullman and the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1894. The strike was ended after the government had declared what Debs was doing a restraint of trade, which according to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, was illegal. (Picture: Eugene V. Debs.)
  • Coxey's Army

    Coxey's  Army
    Coxey's Army was a group of unemployed workers from Ohio (led by Jacob Coxey) protesting the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893. The Coxey's Army group marched throught Pennsylvania to Washington D.C protesting their ideas. A second march organized by Coxey's Army took place in 1914. The phrase "Enough food to feed Coxey's Army" also came about from the Coxey's Army protest.
  • National Comsumers' League

    National Comsumers' League
    The National Comsumers' League mobilized consumer pressure for improved factory conditions. This group also campaigned for a child-labor law. Florence Kelley became a leader and an activist for investigating harsh working conditions in factories and trying to improve them. Photo: Florence Kelley
  • The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU)

    The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU)
    The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) was founded in 1900 by immigrants working in New York City's needle trades. The ILGW was sucessful in conducting two strikes, one in 1909 the other in 1911, picketing the streets. The 1909 strike was run by Clara Lemlich and thousands participated. Photo: Women of the ILGWU striking
  • United Mine Workers Union (UMW)

    United Mine Workers Union (UMW)
    The United Mine Workers Union (UMW) went on strike to gain higher wages and and shorter hours. They wanted to be seen as an important union. During the UMW strike Theodore Roosevelt got involved and sided with the UMW. Photo: A group of UMW workers
  • National Child Labor Committee

    National Child Labor Committee
    The National Child Labor Committee came about during the Progressive Era. It was formed by a womens club and Lewis Hine helped show the trajeties of child labor by taking photos for the union. The group tried to get an ammendment passed prohibiting child labor and also tried to show how terrible life in the workforce was for a young child. Photo: Slogan for the Committee
  • The War Labor Board (WLB) Is Created

    The War Labor Board (WLB) Is Created
    Spurred by progressive interested in the cause of labor, the War Labor Board encouraged workers to join unions and gaurantee unions' right to bargain collectively with management. They also fought for eight-hour work days, the end of child labor, worker-compensation benefits, safety and sanitation inspections against factory owners. The WLB helped raise union membership from 2.7 million in 1916 to more than 5 million by 1920. Photo: War Labor Board Advertisement in the 20's
  • IWW Strike

    IWW Strike
    In 1919, a rash of strikes broke out, inflicting more fear of "bolshevism" onto the US. When the IWW and other Seattle labor unions organzied a general strike early that year, the Mayor of Seattle accused the strikers of spreading the anarchy in Russia in the United States. Picture: IWW logo
  • American Federation of Labor (AFL)

    American Federation of Labor (AFL)
    By 1920, The American Federation of Labor (AFL) had about four million members. Many new immigrants joined searching for a place to join and new jobs. But, to the AFL four million was not a significant number because it was still only 20 percent of the work force population. Photo: AFL Logo
  • Generalization of Labor Unions in the 1920s

    Generalization of Labor Unions in the 1920s
    Generally in the 1920s, labor union membership decreased due to the increase in wages. For example, union membership fell from 5 million in 1920 to 3.4 million in 1929. Also, trade unions' strength lied in establishes industries such as printing, railroading, coal mining and construction. These older craft-based unions were ill suited to the new mass-production factories such as Ford.
  • Communist Labor Strike

    Communist Labor Strike
    In Gastonia, North Caroline, a strike led by the communist National Textile Workers Union broke out. After mill owners hired thugs to invade the union headquarters, the situation erupted. The police chief was shot as well as strike leader Ella May Wiggins who was killed by a bullet fire at a truckc on the way to a union rally. Photo: Ella May Wiggins
  • Black's Involvement in Labor Unions During the 20's

    Black's Involvement in Labor Unions During the 20's
    By 1929, black membership in labor unions was low at around 82,000 members, mostly whom were longshoremen, miners, and railraod porters. The American Federation of Labor officially prohibited racial discrimination in the 20s however most AFL unions actually barred African-Americans. Black strikebreakers, otherwise known as "scabs" took the jobs because they needed to yet they often increased organized labor hostiloity toward them. Photo: Black strikebreaker: bottom left.
  • National Industrial Recovery Act and National Recover Administration

    National Industrial Recovery Act and National Recover Administration
    The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) tried to regulate industry and help uninization. Within NIRA was the PWA qhich also provided jobs. But, NIRA protected collective bargaining rights for unions. Within the NRA they wanted to promote economic recovery and banned child-labor. But, both of these were decided unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • National Labor Relations Act

    National Labor Relations Act
    The National Labor Relations Act (also known as the Wagner Act) was created by Robert Wagner, who enforced unionization, The Wagner Act was part of the second New Deal. It guarenteed collective-bargaining rights, permitted cloed shops and outlawed many tactics like blacklisting. This eventually added to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • The Committe for Industrial Organization (CIO)

    The Committe for Industrial Organization (CIO)
    The CIO was founded by John L. Lewis (UMW leader) and Sidney Hillman (AFL member). The CIO preached unionization and planned may strikes. It was a federation of unions that orgainized workers into different unions. This union was open to African-Americans. It planned the strike on GM's managment. The CIO brought pressure to many companies to recognize it and labor unions. They used picket-lines and sit-down strikes to do so. Its sucess made labor unions popular during the New Deal.
  • United Automobile Workers

    United Automobile Workers
    The United Automoble Works was recognized by General Motors. The workers started to form a plan to strike against GM and Walter Reuther. They did a sit-down strike that stopped GM's production. They tried to call the police to stop the strikers (since FDR refused to send in troops) but finally GM signed a contract recognizing the UAW. Other industries followed as well.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act

    The Fair Labor Standards Act
    The Fair Labor Standars Act was created in 1938. It banned child labor. It also set a national minimum wage, which at the time was fourty cents. Also, it set a maximum workweek of fourty hours per week. This act helped improve conditions, stop competition with the South give women more equal rights and pay and stopped abuse to the workers.
  • Executive Order 8802:

    Executive Order 8802:
    In June 1941 this order prohibited discriminatory employment practices by federal agencies and all unions engaged in war-related work. This also established the Fair Employment Practice Commition. African Americans were offered jobs and their minimum wages were raised.
  • National War Labor Board during World War II

    National War Labor Board during World War II
    The National War Labor Board mediated disputes between managment and labor. It also helped with war mobilization during this time. Labor Unions recruited more members from their maitnenance of membership rule created by the NWLB. It would automatically enroll workers who argeed not to strike and limit wage increased to 15% and a break no strike pledge.
  • Home front During WWII

    Home front During WWII
    Many people were looking for work. Many moved from rural to urban areas to find work. More than 6 million women went to look for work during the war. This went into the production labor forces. More than 6 million women joined the workforce. African Americans also got more rights in the workforce. Many factories switched production to help make weaponry and other necessities for the war and soldiers.
  • Smith-Conally War Labor Disputes Act of 1943

    Smith-Conally War Labor Disputes Act of 1943
    The Smith-Conally War Labor Disputes Act of 1943 enabled the president to take over any facility where strikes interrupted war production. Roosevelt tried to veto this bill but Congress made sure it passed anyway.
  • The Peace Corps

    The Peace Corps
    The Peace Corps was established under Kennedy's presidency in 1961. It exemplified the New Frontier's liberal anti-communism. It was an alternative to getting a job and many college students participated as well. The volunteered as teachers, specialists and health workers to help support Third World Nations.
  • "Culture of Poverty"

    "Culture of Poverty"
    The Culture of Poverty in the 1960's was the invisible class of the poor during this time period. Their struggles were outlined in Michael Harrington's The Other America written in 1962. This group lived in substandard housing and did not live on a propper diet. This group did not get a lot of he;p from social-welfare and were not offered many employment opprotunities that others used to their advantage.
  • The Job Corps

    The Job Corps
    The Job Corps was part of LBJ"s Great Society and was similar to other programs like VISTA and Project Head Start. The Job Corps offered assistance and training programs. It trained young people looking for employment in marketable skills that they would later use in the work force.

    VISTA ( Volunteers in Service to America) was another program in LBJ's Great Society and was similar to the Job Corps and the Community Action Program. VISTA was a domestic peace corps that helped those who worked and volunteered in America durng the 1960's.
  • United Farm Workers (UFW)

    United Farm Workers (UFW)
    Fouded by Cesar Chavez and cofounder Dolores Huerta, the UFW used religion and nonviolent resistance to fight for social change. In 1965, Chavez led his followers into the Delano vineyards of the San Joaquin valley in Arizona to strike. Both founders organized consumer boycotts of table grapes to dramatize the farm workers' struggle, Similar, previous attempts were smashed however for the first time, farm workers gained the right to unionize to secure better wages.
    (Picture: Cesar Chavez)
  • National Organization of Women (NOW)

    National Organization of Women (NOW)
    Formed by Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Aileen Hernandez and others, NOW was a response to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's reluctance to enforce the ban on sex discrimination in employment, mandated by the Civil Rights Act. The civil-rights group sought liberal change trhough political system while lobbying for equal opportunity, filing lawsuits against gender discrimination and mobilizing public opinion against the sexism prominent then in America.
    (Picture: NOW logo)
  • Women's Strike for Equality

    Women's Strike for Equality
    Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of woman suffrage, the Women's Strike for Equality brought out tens of thousands of women nationwide to parade for the right to equal employment and safe, legal abortions.
    (Picture: Women's Equality Strike)
  • ERA

    ERA (equal rights ammendment) passed in 1971, This ammendment made discrimination based on gender when hiring illegal. Twenty-eight states quickly ratified it making it known how important it was at the time.
  • 1990 Recession

    1990 Recession
    In the 1990 recession jobs were cut drasticly. GM cut its work force by over seventy thousand. Tax- revenues fell and social welfare funding dropped drasticly.
  • EEOC

    The EEOC (Equal Employment Opprotunities Commition) run by Clarence Thomas. This commition opposed afirmative action programs and promoted conservative causes. No racial profiling was supposed to influence a person hiring a worker for a job.