1648 – The “Shoemakers of Boston” — the first Labor organization in what would later become the United States — was authorized by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1911 – New York City agrees to pay women school teachers a rate equal to that of men.
1927 – IWW Colorado Mine strike; first time all coal fields are out.
1939 – Some 58,000 Chrysler Corp. workers strike for wage increases.
1943 – The United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) is formed as a self-governing union, an outgrowth of the CIO’s Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee. UPWA merged with the Meatcutters union in 1968, which merged with the Retail Clerks in 1979 to form the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
1983 – GM agrees to hire more women and minorities for five years as part of a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
1949 – The National Association of Letter Carriers achieves equalization of wages for all letter carriers, meaning city delivery carriers began receiving the same wages regardless of the size of the community in which they worked.
1980 – The J.P. Stevens textile company is forced to sign its first union contract after a 17-year struggle in North Carolina and other southern states.
1926 – Eugene V. Debs, U.S. Labor leader and socialist, dies in Elmhurst, Ill. Among his radical ideas: an eight-hour workday, pensions, workman’s compensation, sick leave and social security. He ran for president from a jail cell in 1920 and got a million votes.
1947 – Hollywood comes under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened hearings into alleged Communist influence within the motion picture industry. Dozens of union members were among those blacklisted as a result of HUAC’s activities.
1980 – Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan writes to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorses Reagan, “I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and workdays so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.” He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election, he fires the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions.
2013 – Two track workers are killed in a (San Francisco) Bay Area Rapid Transit train accident. Federal investigators said the train was run by a BART employee who was being trained as an operator as members of the Amalgamated Transit Union were participating in what was to be a four-day strike.
1933 – Wisconsin dairy farmers begin their third strike of the year in an attempt to raise the price of milk paid to producers during the Great Depression. Several creameries were bombed before the strike ended a month later. The economy eventually improved, allowing the farmers to make more money.
1985 – The Upholsterers Int’l Union merges into the United Steelworkers.
1934 – Bank robber Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd is killed by FBI agents near East Liverpool, Ohio. He was a hero to the people of Oklahoma who saw him as a “Sagebrush Robin Hood,” stealing from banks and sharing some of the proceeds with the poor.
1902 – President Theodore Roosevelt establishes a fact-finding commission that suspends a nine-month-long strike by Western Pennsylvania coal miners fighting for better pay, shorter workdays and union recognition. The strikers ended up winning more pay for fewer hours, but failed to get union recognition. It was the first time that the federal government had intervened as a neutral arbitrator in a Labor dispute.
1989 – Explosion and fire at Phillips Petroleum refinery in Pasadena, Texas, kills 23 and injures 314.
2001 – Postal workers Joseph Curseen and Thomas Morris die nearly a month after having inhaled anthrax at the Brentwood mail sorting center in Washington, D.C. Other postal workers had been made ill but survived. Letters containing the deadly spores had been addressed to U.S. Senate offices and media outlets.
1940 – The 40-hour workweek goes into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act, signed by President Roosevelt two years earlier.
1945 – U.S. minimum wage increases to 40 cents an hour.
(Compiled by David Prosten, founder of Union Communication Services)