Labor Unions

By us2
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    United States History

  • Profit Sharing

    Profit Sharing
    Profit sharing originats at Albert Gallatin's glass works in New Geneva, Pennsylvania. This is the first step in the US towards organized labor.
  • Commonwealth vs. Pullis

    Commonwealth vs. Pullis
    The Union of Philadelphia Journeymen Cordwainers were the first union to be tried and convicted of criminal conspiracy after striking for higher wages. They were charged with combining to raise wages and to injure others. Fines and convictions forced the Union to go bankrupt and disband.
  • Boston Strike

    Boston Strike
    Boston Carpenters stage the first strike for a ten hour work day. This was the first of the many hour related strikes to come.
  • Federal Government Joins in

    Federal Government Joins in
    The first federal government employee work stoppage begins when employees at the Washington and Philadelphia Navy yards struck for the 10-hour day and for general redress of their grievances.
  • Child Strikes

    Child Strikes
    In Patterson, NJ, child silk mill workers go on strike for an 11 hour work day, six days a week. This shows the first case of the younger child workers getting involved in labor movements. Despite this, many labor unions formed later would not allow children to become members.
  • Commonwealth vs. Hunt

    Commonwealth vs. Hunt
    Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw ruled that unions were legal organizations and had the right to organize and strike. Though this did not legalize strikes throughout the country, it was a significant step forward since before this decision, labor unions which attempted to 'close' or create a unionized workplace could be charged with conspiracy, as in Commonwealth vs. Pullis.
  • Portage Violence

    Portage Violence
    New York state malitia shoot railroad strikers in Portage, NY, killing two and injuring many others. This raised fear and anger among the laborers while also raising sympathy for the laborers.
  • Labor Gaining Force

    Labor Gaining Force
    800 women operatives and 4,000 workmen marched during a shoemaker's strike in Lynn, Massachusetts. This was a sign of the growing organization and support of the lower class laborers.
  • Brotherhood of the Footboard

    Brotherhood of the Footboard
    The Brotherhood of the Footboard was the first railroad labor union. A year after its formation, it was renamed the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. As the name suggests, this union was for men only.
  • National Labor Union

    National Labor Union
    Union of skilled and unskilled laborers with very few blacks and women, and absolutely no Chinese. Gained eight-day workdays for government workers.
  • Colored National Labor Union

    Colored National Labor Union
    Organized as the black alternative to the National Labor Union which was predominantly white men. Due to racism and their republican support, the National Labor Union and Colored National Labor Union never worked together.
  • National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange)

    National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange)
    Establishment of a famers union led by Oliver Kelley for the purpose of sharing information, setting up social gatherings, and working together to pay for grain storage and run cooperatives. This union also worked to pass state laws to regulate railroads (Munn vs Illinois).
  • Establishment of the Knights of Labor

    Establishment of the Knights of Labor
    Originated as a secret society of skilled and unskilled laborers. Union allowed blacks and womens as well as white men, but excluded the chinese. Avoided politics. Staged a few successful strikes which gained support, and fought for the eight hour workday.
  • Panic of 1873

    Panic of 1873
    The "Panic of 1837" puts an end to the National Trades Union and most other unions. President Andrew Jackson declares the ten-hour day in the Philadelphia Navy Yard to mollify the discontented laborers resulting from the Panic of 1837.
  • Socialist Labor Union

    Socialist Labor Union
    It was a small organization that had many internal conflicts. It organized unions for immigrant workers.
  • Farmers' Alliance

    Farmers' Alliance
    This union was founded in Texas in order to organize cooperative buying and selling amongst farmers to aid them against the railroads and manufacturers. The Alliance was mainly geared towards land owning farmers and excluded black farmers altogether. Members wanted to nationalize railroads, lower tariffs, abolish national banks, create a graduated income tax, and form a new federal subtreasury to provide farmers with government-owned warehouses to store crops.
  • Colored Farmers' National Alliance

    Colored Farmers' National Alliance
    This was a farmers' alliance formed for the black farmers excluded from the Farmers' Alliance. It became very popular in the 1890's, when its membership reached over 250,000 people.
  • Depression of 1883

    Depression of 1883
    Economic depression causes the death of the National Labor Union.
  • American Federation of Labor

    American Federation of Labor
    Started by Samuel Gompers who broke off of the Knights of Labor. Union of only skilled laborers, which made the union more stable since the members were less easily replaced than unskilled unionists. Wanted better wages, hours, and conditions.
  • Wabash v Illinois

    Wabash v Illinois
    Supreme Court declares individual states have no right to regulate interstate commerce.
    This destroys many of the state laws the Grange fought to pass reguarding railroad regulation.
  • Haymarket Square

    Haymarket Square
    Bomb explodes during a meeting in Chicago to protest athorative brutalities. Police charged eight anarchists of the act, sentencing five to death and giving the other three stern jail sentences. There was insufficient evidence, but the punishments were approved anyway. This event harmed the Knights of Labor by associating the union with violent anarchists, thus causing the knights to lose much of the public's support, which led to many unsuccessful strike attempts.
  • Homestead Strike

    Homestead Strike
    Laborers of Carnegie's Homestead Steel Plant near Pittsburgh began a strike due to pay cuts. Corporate officials called in 300 armed Pinkerton detectives to quell the strike, but the detectives were defeated. Troops were later sent in to kill the strike.
  • Pullman Strike

    Pullman Strike
    In Chicago, Eugene V Debs organized and led the American Railway Union on a strike, brought on by the depression which caused wage cuts while the price of rent and supplies remained the same.
    Strikers paralyzed railways from Chicago to the Pacific Coast, but were eventually crushed by Olney and Cleveland sending in US troops.
  • Erdman Act

    Erdman Act
    Act which prohibits the dismissal of employees for Union activities.
  • Anthracite Coal Strike

    Anthracite Coal Strike
    Coal Miners in easter Pennsylvania start a strike which threatens to cut off people's fuel supply for the Winter. Theodore Roosevelt intervenes and helps the laborers and owners to come to an agreement by which the laborers get a shorter work day and higher wages, while the owners did not have to recognise the labor union and got a higher price for their coal. This was the first time where a president of the United States remained neutral while intervening in a strike.
  • Lochner v New York

    Lochner v New York
    A baker named Lochner sues NY for their 1895 law limmiting the number of hours a baker could work to 10 per day and 60 per week. Lochner claims the law is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court agrees, saying state governments have no right to place a limit on an individual's freedom of person or contract.
  • Federal Employers Liability Act

    Federal Employers Liability Act
    Act put in place to compensate railroad laborers injured while working.
    (Would later lead to such laws as Worker's Compensation.)
  • Muller v Oregon

    Muller v Oregon
    Supreme Court upheld the law limmiting women's work hours to ten hours a day as Constitutional.
  • Accidents Report Act

    Accidents Report Act
    Railroads must submit a report on all accidents to the secretary of Transportation.
  • Gompers v Buck's Stove & Range Co.

    Gompers v Buck's Stove & Range Co.
    AFL members Gompers, Morrison, and Mitchell were held in contempt of the injunction filed by Buck's Stove and Rangers Co. however, the case was also intertwined with the issue of free speech.
    The case ended when Van Cleave (the man who had filed for the injunction) died, thus making the case moot.
    This case "victory" helped labor unions gain legitimacy, and led to an increase in political powers in later years.
  • Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

    Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
    Over 100 young men and women (mostly young foreign women) died when the factory they worked in caught fire. They were locked inside their workroom, and the one fire escape was jammed. Some tried to jump to the street, but they were on the ninth floor and above, so very few made the fall.
    This tradgedy garnered sympathy for the working class and was highly influential in gaining regulations for the hours and conditions which people worked.
  • Lawrence Textile Strike

    Lawrence Textile Strike
    Immigrant textile workers strike in Lwrence, Massachusetts, when owners give wage cuts.
    The strike is a success, which disproved the common belief that a union of mainly females and immigrants of diverse ethnic background couldn't organize themselves.
  • Seattle Strike

    Seattle Strike
    A general strike in Seattle, though organized and with modest demands, was squashed by federal troops.
    This foreshadowed the policy of intolerance toward unions throughout the Red Scare, which also caused a decline in union memberships.
    Anti-union sentiments during the communist hysteria were used by business men to destroy the weaker union groups.
  • Adkins v Children's Hospital

    Adkins v Children's Hospital
    Court case which reversed Muller v Oregon.
    Declares there should be no special minimum wage for women.
  • Nirris-La Guardia Anti-Injunction Act

    Nirris-La Guardia Anti-Injunction Act
    This act outlawed "yellow dog" contracts and forbade federal courts from issuing injunctions to restrain strikes, boycotts, and peaceful picketing.
  • NRA (National Recovery Administration)

    NRA (National Recovery Administration)
    New Deal legislation which created a minimum wage, maximum weekly hours (which led to the concept of "overtime"), and restricted child labor. This was a voluntary program, which gave a blue eagle to the businesses that joined to hang in their windows, which increased business. It was a recovery act designed to assist industry, labor, and unemployment.
  • Surge of Strikes

    Surge of Strikes
    The summer of 1934, there was a surge of walk out strikes as unionists, emboldened by the NRA, asserted their rights. One of the more notable strikes was the general strike in San Fransisco which was only ended by the vigilante tactics of outraged citizens.
  • Schechter Poultry Corp. v US

    Schechter Poultry Corp. v US
    Ruled the NRA unconstitutional because it tried to regulate intrastate business as well as interstate.
    This was a loss for the labor unions.
  • CIO (Committee for Industrial Organization)

    CIO (Committee for Industrial Organization)
    Formed by John J. Lewis, former head of the United Mine Workers. The CIO tried to unite all industrial laborers for the sake of strength in numbers when bargaining. It was orriginally founded withing the AF of L, but due to the friction between skilled and unskilled workers, the two did not say united for long.
    The group included unskilled workers and blacks in addition to skilled white workers.
  • Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act)

    Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act)
    This act guaranteed collective bargaining (through laborers' own choice of representative), allowed for closed shops, and outlawed blacklisting. It also set up the National Labor relations board for administrative purposes. This act is considered a huge milestone for labor Unions.
  • General Motors Sit Down Strike

    General Motors Sit Down Strike
    Strengthened the UAW (United Automobile Workers). UAW in a GM factory in Flint, Michigan striked by sitting down in the factory, preventing the owners and "scabs" from working there. GM representatives were forced to sit with CIO representatives, and agreed to recognising UAW as the exclusive bargaining representative of GM workers. This strengthened the UAW and led to the unionization of the US automobile industry.
  • Memorial Day Massacre

    Memorial Day Massacre
    In Chicago, police shot and killed 10 unarmed "little steel" strikers. Over 60 others were injured by the bullets and police clubbing. None of the police were ever prosecuted.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act

    Fair Labor Standards Act
    Act passed by congress which called for a minimum wage, "time-and-a-half" (ie the idea of overtime), and restrictions on child labor.
    This was another triumph for labor unions.
  • CIO breaks from the AF of L

    CIO breaks from the AF of L
    Due to too many differences in oppinion, the more radical CIO broke completely away from the more conservative AF of L.
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    No-Strike Pledge

    The AFL and CIO agreed to a "no-strike pledge" during the wartime. This was so productivity of the total war country would not decrease. The government did not want there to be interferences with the production of supplies and weapons.
  • War Labor Board

    War Labor Board
    This was established as a compulsory arbitration to settle differences between labor and management to prevent a decrease in productivity.
  • Smith-Connally Act

    Smith-Connally Act
    First anti-strike legislations passed in America. Was a result of a strike by the United Mine Workers.
  • WWII Ends

    WWII Ends
    WWII officially ended. An economic slump and widespread striking ensued.
  • Taft-Hartley Act

    Taft-Hartley Act
    The "slave-labor law" passed by a republican congress. It outlawed closed (all union) shops, held unions accountable for damages caused by jurisdictional disputes amongst themselves, and required union leaders to take a non-communist oath.
    This act slowed the post WW2 union growth.
  • Railway

    There was a national railway strike that stopped all trains. Truman took over the railways.
  • Taft-Hartley Act

    Taft-Hartley Act
    Truman Vetoed. Amended the Wagner act and reduced the rights of workes to organize unions.
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    Red Scare

    Participation and affiliations with labor unions decreased during and after WW2. This was because of the fear of communism that was sparked by the spreading of communism throughout Eastern Europe. The equality goals of labor unions too closely matched the objectives of communist ideals and people avoided the unions in fear of suspicion.
  • Operation Dixie

    Operation Dixie
    CIO's attempt to unionize Southern textile and steel workers. The operation failed to overcome lingering fears of racial mixing, thus ending in an overall failure.
  • Child Labor

    Child Labor
    Child labor is outlawed. This was a result of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • AF of L merges with CIO

    AF of L merges with CIO
    Unemployment jitters catalyzed the merger of the AFL and CIO. They unanimously elected George Meany as the first combined president of the new union.
  • White Collars outnumber Blue

    White Collars outnumber Blue
    Unions had mainly consisted of blue-collar factory workers, but in 1956, the number of blue-collar workers decreased while white-collar workers (doctors, lawyers, ect) grew. Because of this, unions began to wither as their membership pools dried up.
  • Landrum-Griffen Act

    Landrum-Griffen Act
    The Landrum-Griffen Act, also known as the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), granted a bill of rights to union members to promote democratic procedures within labor organizations. The Act required reporting for labor organizations, union officers and employees, employers, labor-relations consultants, and surety companies; standards for the regular election of union officers; and safeguards for protecting labor organization funds and assets.