Journeymen Cordwainers union includes a closed-shop clause in its constitution in New York City.
1806 (United States)
Commonwealth v. Pullis was the first known court case arising from a labor strike in the United States. After a three-day trial, the jury found the defendants guilty of "a combination to raise their wages" and fined.
Food riots broke out in East Anglia. Workers demanded a double wage and for the setting of triple prices for food.
Committee of Fifty, a group of prominent trade unionists in New York City, organized to resist efforts by business owners to revoke the 10-hour workday and reinstate the 11-hour workday. Their efforts lead directly to the forming of the Workingmen's Party of New York.
New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics, and other Workingmen formed.
9 January 1831 (England)
Twenty-three workers from Buckingham were sentenced to death for destruction of a paper machine by one of a number of Special Commissions sent to East Anglia to suppress insurgent workers by the Whig Ministry.
11 January 1831 (England)
Three workers in Dorset were sentenced to death for extorting money and two workers were sentenced to death for robbery by one of the Special Commissions sent by the Whig Ministry to suppress insurgent workers.
Fifty-five workers in Norwich were convicted of "machine breaking and rioting" by one of the Special Commissions sent by the Whig Ministry to suppress insurgent workers.
Three workers in Ipswich were convicted of extorting money by one of the Special Commissions sent by the Whig Ministry to suppress insurgent workers.
In Petworth, 26 workers were found guilty of "machine breaking and rioting" by one of the Special Commissions the Whig Ministry sent by the Whig Ministry to suppress insurgent workers.
"Upwards of thirty" workers in Gloucester were convicted of "machine breaking and rioting" by one of the Special Commissions sent by the Whig Ministry to suppress insurgent workers.
Twenty-nine workers in Oxford were convicted of "machine breaking and rioting" by one of the Special Commissions sent by the Whig Ministry to suppress insurgent workers.
National Trades' Union formed in New York when the New York General Trades' Union solicited labor organizations from around the country to send delegates to a national convention. This union was the first attempt to create a national labor federation.
Carpenters, masons, and stone-cutters began a strike as part of the Ten-Hour Movement among skilled workers. They drafted a strike circular in Boston outlining their demands and seeking assistance from other tradespeople. Wherever this circular was distributed, a strike in favor of the ten-hour workday erupted. The 1835 Philadelphia general strike, in which workers successfully struck for shorter working hours and higher wages, was influenced by the Boston circular.
In 1873 the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen was established. In 1906 it became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen.
13 January 1874 (United States)
The original Tompkins Square Riot occurs in New York City. As unemployed workers demonstrated in New York City's Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake.
A general strike halted the movement of U.S. railroads. In the following days, strike riots spread across the United States. The next week, federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike. At the "Battle of the Viaduct" in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, between protesting members of the Chicago German Furniture Workers Union, now Local 1784 of the Carpenters Union, and federal troops killed 30 workers and wounded over 100.
Workers protested in the streets to demand the universal adoption of the eight-hour day. Hundreds of thousands of American workers had joined the Knights of Labor. The movement ultimately failed.
1 May 1886 (United States)
Bay View Tragedy: About 2,000 Polish workers walked off their jobs and gathered at St. Stanislaus Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, angrily denouncing the ten-hour workday. The protesters marched through the city, calling on other workers to join them. All but one factory was closed down as sixteen thousand protesters gathered at Rolling Mills. Wisconsin Governor Jeremiah Rusk called the state militia. The militia camped out at the mill while workers slept in nearby fields. On the morning of 5 May, as protesters chanted for the eight-hour workday, General Treaumer ordered his men to shoot into the crowd, some of whom were carrying sticks, bricks, and scythes, leaving seven dead at the scene, including a child.
The Milwaukee Journal reported that eight more would die within twenty-four hours, adding that Governor Rusk was to be commended for his quick action in the matter.
In the Thibodaux massacre in Thibodaux, Louisiana a local militia, aided by bands of "prominent citizens," shot at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage, and lynched two strike leaders.
1887 (United States)
Seven of the Haymarket Riot bombing defendants sentenced to death, of which five are executed.
1887 (United States)
Port of New York Longshoremen's Strike occurred.
Homestead Strike:Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of strikebreakers, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel-workers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. In the ensuing battle, three Pinkertons surrendered and were set upon and beaten by a mob of townspeople, most of them women. Seven guards and eleven strikers and spectators were shot to death.
In Cripple Creek, Colorado, miners went on strike when mine owners announced an increase from eight to ten hours per day, with no increase in wages. This strike marked perhaps the only time in American history that a state militia was called out to protect miners from sheriff's deputies.
Pullman Strike: A nation-wide strike against the Pullman Company begins with a wildcat walkout on 11 May after wages are drastically reduced. On 5 July, the 1892 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago's Jackson Park was set ablaze, and seven buildings were burned to the ground. The mobs burned and looted railroad cars and fought police in the streets, until 10 July, when 14,000 federal and state troops finally succeeded in putting down the strike, killing 34 American Railway Union members. Leaders of the strike, including Eugene Debs, were imprisoned for violating injunctions, causing disintegration of the union.
Lattimer massacre: 19 unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a posse organized by the Luzerne County sheriff for refusing to disperse near Hazleton, Pennsylvania. The strikers, most of whom were shot in the back, were originally brought in as strike-breakers, but later organized themselves.
1898 (United States)
The Erdman Act was passed providing for mediation and voluntary arbitration on the railroads. It made it a criminal offense for railroads to dismiss employees or to discriminate against prospective employees because of their union membership or activity. It provided legal protection of employees' rights to membership in a labor union, a limit on the use of injunctions in labor disputes, lawful status of picketing and other union activities, and requirement of employers to bargain collectively. Subsequently, a portion of the Erdman Act, which would have made it a criminal offense for railroads to dismiss employees or discriminate against prospective employees based on their union activities, was declared invalid by the United States Supreme Court.
The Federal Employers' Liability Act was passed. Also that year, the Erdman Act was further weakened by the Supreme Court when Section 10, related to use of "yellow dog" contracts, was declared unconstitutional (see 1898).
Watertown, Connecticut, Arsenal Strike occurred.
22 November 1909 (United States)
The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909 (Uprising of the 20,000) began. Female garment workers went on strike in New York; many were arrested. A judge told those arrested: "You are on strike against God".
The 1910 Accident Reports Act was passed and a 10-hour work day and standardization of rates of pay and working conditions were won by the Railway Brotherhoods.
Union membership topped 8 million workers in 1910.
1 October 1910 (United States)
The Los Angeles Times bombing killed twenty people and destroyed the building. Calling it "the crime of the century," the newspaper's owner Harrison Gray Otis blamed the bombing on the unions, a charge denied by unionists.
A dynamite bomb destroyed a portion of the Llewellyn Iron works in Los Angeles, where a strike was in progress. In April 1911 James McNamara and his brother John McNamara, secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, were charged with the two crimes. James McNamara pleaded guilty to murder and John McNamara pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the dynamiting of the Llewellyn Iron Works.
1911 (United States)
The Locomotive Inspection Act passed. Four years later, the Hours of Service Act passed. The Railroad Brotherhoods had won an eight-hour day.
The Supreme Court in Gompers v. Buck's Stove and Range Co. (221 U.S. 418) affirmed a lower court order for the AFL to stop interfering with Buck's Stove and Range Company's business or boycotting its products or distributors.
On 24 June 1912 in the second contempt trial, the defendants (Samuel Gompers, John Mitchell, and Frank Morrison) were again found guilty and sentenced to prison. The Supreme Court overturned the convictions because the new proceedings had not been instituted within the three-year statute of limitations (233 U.S. 604 1914).
1911 (United States)
Illinois Central and Harriman Line Rail Strike occurred.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire -- The Triangle Shirtwaist Company, occupying the top three floors of a ten-story building in New York City, was consumed by fire. One hundred and forty-six people, mostly women and young girls working in sweatshop conditions, died.
1912 (United States)
Massachusetts passes the first minimum wage law for women and minors.
It also adopted a tactic used before in Europe, but never in the United States, of sending children to sympathizers in other cities when they could not be cared for by strike funds. On 24 February, women attempting to put their children on a train out of town were beaten by police, shocking the nation.
18 April 1912 (United States)
The National Guard was called out against striking West Virginia coal miners at the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, West Virginia mines.
The Ford Motor Company raised its basic wage from $2.40 for a nine-hour day to $5 for an eight-hour day.
14 January 1914 (United States)
Labor leader Joe Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was convicted on murder charges, and was executed 21 months later despite worldwide protests and two attempts to intervene by President Woodrow Wilson. In a letter to Bill Haywood shortly before his death he penned the famous words, "Don't mourn - organize!"
20 April 1914 (United States)
The "Ludlow Massacre." In an attempt to persuade strikers at Colorado's Ludlow Mine Field to return to work, company "guards," engaged by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and other mine operators and sworn into the State Militia just for the occasion, attacked a union tent camp with machine guns, then set it afire. Five men, two women and 12 children died as a result.
Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner Neil Jamison attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene.
Three days later, twenty-two union men attempted to speak out at a local crossroads, but each was arrested; arrests and beatings of strikebreakers became common throughout the following months, and on 30 October vigilantes forced IWW speakers to run the gauntlet, subjecting them to whipping, tripping kicking, and impalement against a spiked cattle guard at the end of the gauntlet. In response, the IWW called for a meeting on 5 November. When the union men arrived, they were fired on; seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing.
The Everett Massacre (also known as Bloody Sunday) was an armed confrontation between local authorities and members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union, commonly called "Wobblies", which took place in Everett, Washington on Sunday, 5 November 1916. The tragic event marked a time of rising tensions in Pacific Northwest labor history.
1917 (United States)
In "Hitchman Coal and Coke vs. Mitchell", U.S. Supreme Court upholds the legality of yellow-dog contracts.
The Supreme Court approved the Eight-Hour Act under the threat of a national railway strike.
12 July 1917 (United States)
The Bisbee Deportation: After seizing the local Western Union telegraph office in order to cut off outside communication, several thousand armed vigilantes forced 1,185 men in Bisbee, Arizona into manure-laden boxcars and "deported" them to the New Mexico desert. The action was precipitated by a strike when workers' demands (including improvements to safety and working conditions at the local copper mines, an end to discrimination against labor organizations and unequal treatment of foreign and minority workers, and the institution of a fair wage system) went unmet. The "deportation" was organized by Sheriff Harry Wheeler. The incident was investigated months later by a Federal Mediation Commission set up by President Woodrow Wilson; the Commission found that no federal law applied, and referred the case to the State of Arizona, which failed to take any action, citing patriotism and support for the war as justification for the vigilantes' action.
Looting, rioting and sporadic violence broke out in downtown Boston and South Boston for days after 1,117 Boston policemen declared a work stoppage due to their thwarted attempts to affiliate with the American Federation of Labor. Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge put down the strike by calling out the entire state militia.
22 September 1919 – 8 January 1920 (United States)
The "Great Steel Strike" began. Ultimately, 350,000 steel workers walked off their jobs to demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee called off the strike on 8 January 1920, their goals unmet.
Amid a strike for union recognition by 395,000 steelworkers (ultimately unsuccessful), approximately 250 "anarchists," "communists," and "labor agitators" were deported to Russia, marking the beginning of the so-called "Red Scare."
The U.S. Bureau of Investigation began carrying out the nationwide Palmer Raids.
19 May 1920 (United States)
The Battle of Matewan. Despite efforts by police chief (and former miner) Sid Hatfield and Mayor Cabel Testerman to protect miners from interference in their union drive in Matewan, West Virginia, Baldwin-Felts detectives hired by the local mining company arrived to evict miners and their families from the Stone Mountain Mine camp. A gun battle ensued, resulting in the deaths of 7 detectives, Mayor Testerman, and 2 miners. The movie Matewan is based on the event.
Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners at the "Battle of Blair Mountain," dubbed the "redneck war" and "the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War." Army troops later intervened against the striking mineworkers in West Virginia.
The Railway Labor Act passed. It required employers, for the first time and under penalty of law, to bargain collectively and not to discriminate against their employees for joining a union. It provided also for mediation, voluntary arbitration, fact-finding boards, cooling off periods and adjustment boards.
Violent and relatively unsuccessful Loray Mill Strike during which the National Guard was called, and 100+ masked men destroyed the National Textile Workers Union (NTWU) building. Crushing Southern textile worker's collective bargaining efforts made a furor in US national news, giving momentum and urgency to the more successful labor movement of the 1930s
Gastonia, North Carolina, Textile Strike occurred.
The 1929 Timber Workers strike was the first large strike after the onset of the Great Depression in Australia arising from a new timber industry award that increased the working week from 44 to 48 hours and reduced wages. A fifteen-month lockout during 1929-1930 of miners on the Northern New South Wales Coalfields was particularly bitter with police shooting at miners, killing Norman Brown and seriously injuring many more at the Rothbury Riot.
The Electric Auto-Lite Strike. In Toledo, Ohio, two strikers were killed and over two hundred wounded by National Guardsmen. Some 1,300 National Guard troops, including included eight rifle companies and three machine gun companies, were called in to disperse as many as 10,000 strikers and protestors.
Honea Path massacre occurred with 6 striking textile worker shot in the back running from a picket line. This event is featured in the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary on the POV series called "The Uprising of '34". An historical photo essay entitled "Mill Town Murder" is online at Beacham Journal .
Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 occurred. Police attacked and fired upon striking Teamster truck drivers in Minneapolis who were demanding recognition of their union, wage increases, and shorter working hours. As violence escalated, Governor Olson went so far as to declare martial law in Minneapolis, deploying 4,000 National Guardsmen. The strike ended on 21 August when company owners finally accepted union demands.
The National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, was passed. It clearly established the right of all workers to organize and to elect their representative for collective bargaining purposes.
Textile workers strike of 1955, in both New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts. Strike over a nickel raise was led and negotiated by Union President Manuel "Manny" Fernandes Jr., who resolved the strike and got the workers a nickel raise.
5 December 1955 (United States)
The two largest labor organizations in the U.S. merged to form the AFL–CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million. George Meany served as the first president of the combined organization.
President John F Kennedy issues Executive Order 10988 establishing limited collective bargaining rights for federal employees and widely regarded as the impetus for the expansion of public sector bargaining rights at state and local levels in the years to come.
West Virginia miners went on strike the following day in protest.
18 March 1970 (United States)
The first mass work stoppage in the 195-year history of the United States Post Office Department began with a walkout of letter carriers in Brooklyn and Manhattan, soon involving 210,000 of the nation's 750,000 postal employees. With mail service virtually paralyzed in New York, Detroit, and Philadelphia, President Nixon declared a state of national emergency and assigned military units to New York City post offices. The stand-off culminated two weeks later.
29 July 1970 (United States)
United Farm Workers forced California grape growers to sign an agreement after a five-year strike.
The film Norma Rae, based on a real life character trying to unionize a textile mill, is released. It wins an Academy Award for best actress.
September 1980 (Poland)
The trade union Solidarity (Solidarność) is established at the Gdańsk Shipyard, and originally led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Wałęsa. Within the year the government implements martial law in an attempt to quell nationwide civil unrest and protest.
1980 (United States)
Joyce Miller joined the AFL–CIO executive board as the first female board member.
3 August 1981 (United States)
Federal air traffic controllers began a nationwide strike after their union rejected the government's final offer for a new contract. Most of the 13,000 striking controllers defied the back-to-work order, and were dismissed by President Reagan on 5 August. Reagan ordered them to leave.
Largest labor rally in United States history broke out in protest of Reagan's order.
The Association of Vatican Lay Workers was formed, but was not recognized by the Vatican authorities until 1993. It is the sole trade union in Vatican City and represents the majority of the 3000 employees who work in the city state.
1986 (United States)
Trans World Airlines Flight Attendants' Strike occurred.
Female flight attendants won an 18-year lawsuit against United Airlines, which had fired them for getting married. The lawsuit was resolved when a U.S. district court approved the reinstatement of 475 attendants and $37 million back-pay settlement for 1,725 flight attendants. (United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald, 432 U.S. 385 (1977))
Jasic incident occurred. Workers led by Maoist students made several walkouts, many were arrested thereafter.
2019 (United States)
2019 General Motors Strike occurred. 48,000 United Auto Workers representing Detroit GM factory employees went on strike from 15 September to 25 October to demand healthcare coverage, higher wages, increased job security, and gateway for temporary workers to become permanent.