1826 – Indian field hands at San Juan Capistrano mission refused to work, engaging in what was probably the first farm worker strike in California.
1890 – The United Mine Workers of America is founded in Columbus, Ohio, with the merger of the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union.
1913 – Some 10,000 clothing workers strike in Rochester, N.Y., for the eight-hour day, a 10 percent wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held throughout the clothing district and there was at least one instance of mounted police charging the crowd of strikers and arresting 25 picketers. Six people were wounded over the course of the strike and one worker, 18-year-old Ida Breiman, was shot to death by a sweatshop contractor. The strike was called off in April after manufacturers agreed not to discriminate against workers for joining a union.
1936 – In Allegany County, Md., workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal-era public works program employing unmarried men aged 18-25, are snowbound at Fifteen Mile Creek Camp S-53 when they receive a distress call about a woman in labor who needs to get to a hospital. Twenty courageous CCC volunteers dig through miles of snow drifts until the woman is successfully able to be transported.
1935 – Krueger’s Cream Ale, the first canned beer, goes on sale in Richmond, Va. Pabst was the second brewer in the same year to sell beer in cans, which came with opening instructions and the suggestion: “Cool before serving.”
1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses first Black Women’s Rights convention.
1888 – The Sheet Metal Workers Int’l Association (SMWIA) is founded in Toledo, Ohio, as the Tin, Sheet Iron and Cornice Workers’ Int’l Association.
1904 – Two hundred miners are killed in a horrific explosion at the Harwick mine in Cheswick, Pa., Allegheny County. Many of the dead lie entombed in the sealed mine to this day.
1915 – The Supreme Court upholds “Yellow Dog” employment contracts, which forbid membership in labor unions. Yellow Dog contracts remained legal until 1932.
1926 – Some 16,000 textile workers strike in Passaic, N.J.
1950 – The federal minimum wage rate rises to 75 cents an hour.
1695 – In what could be considered the first workers’ compensation agreement in America, pirate Henry Morgan pledges his underlings 600 pieces of eight or six slaves to compensate for a lost arm or leg. Also part of the pirate’s code, reports Roger Newell: shares of the booty were equal regardless of race or sex, and shipboard decisions were made collectively.
1897 – The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America is chartered by the American Federation of Labor to organize “every wage earner from the man who takes the bullock at the house until it goes into the hands of the consumer.”
1937 – Workers win a two-day sit-down strike at the Brooklyn electric plant that powers the city’s entire subway system.
2009 – A handful of American companies announce nearly 60,000 layoffs, as the recession that began during the George W. Bush presidency charges full-tilt toward what became known as the Great Recession.
1734 – New York City maids organize to improve working conditions.
1891 – Mine explosion in Mount Pleasant, Pa., leaves more than 100 dead.
1920 – Kansas miners strike against compulsory arbitration.
1950 – A three-cent postage stamp is issued, honoring AFL founder Samuel Gompers.
1969 – A group of Detroit African-American auto workers known as the Eldon Avenue Axle Plant Revolutionary Union Movement leads a wildcat strike against racism and bad working conditions. They are critical of both automakers and the UAW, condemning the seniority system and grievance procedures as racist.
2014 – Pete Seeger dies in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American left, persecuted during the McCarthy era for his support of progressive, labor and civil rights causes. A prolific songwriter, he is generally credited with popularizing the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” He actively participated in demonstrations until shortly before his death.
2014 – Members of the Northwestern University football team announce they are seeking union recognition. A majority signed cards, later delivered to the National Labor Relations Board office in Chicago, asking for representation by the College Athletes Players Association.
1861 – American Miners’ Association formed.
1932 – First U.S. unemployment compensation law is enacted in Wisconsin.
1834 – Responding to unrest among Irish laborers building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, President Andrew Jackson orders first use of American troops to suppress a labor dispute.
1889 – Six thousand railway workers strike for a union and the end of 18-hour days.
1936 – Sit-down strike helps establish United Rubber Workers as a national union in Akron, Ohio.
2009 – The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is signed into law by President Obama. Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. at a wage rate much less than men doing the same job; the statute of limitations for filing a discrimination claim expired by the time she learned of the unequal treatment. The Fair Pay Act stipulates that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.
(Compiled by David Prosten, founder of Union Communication Services)