1797 (United States)
Profit sharing originated at Albert Gallatin's glass works in New Geneva,
1806 (United States)
Commonwealth vs. Pullis was the first reported 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".
27 April 1825 (United States)
Carpenters in Boston were the first to stage a strike for the 10-hour
3 July 1835 (United States)
Children employed in the silk mills in Paterson, New Jersey go on strike for
the 11 hour day, 6 days a week.
March 1842 (United States)
Commonwealth v. Hunt was a landmark legal decision by the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court on the subject of labor unions. Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw
ruled that unions were legal organizations and had the right to organize and
strike. Before this decision, labor unions which attempted to 'close' or create
a unionized workplace could be charged with conspiracy. See Commonwealth vs.
The Educational Institute of Scotland, the oldest teachers' trade union in
the world, was founded.
July 1851 (United States)
Two railroad strikers are shot dead and others injured by the state militia
in Portage, New York.
21 April 1856 (Australia)
Stonemasons and building workers in Melbourne achieve an Eight-hour day, the
first organised workers in the world to achieve an 8 hour day, with no loss of
1860 (United States)
800 women operatives and 4,000 workmen marched during a shoemaker's strike
in Lynn, Massachusetts.
1863 (United States)
The first railroad labor union, The Brotherhood of the Footboard (later
renamed the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers) is formed in Marshall,
1866 (United States)
National Labor Union formed - 1st national labor federation in the US.
The General German Federation of Trade Unions (ADGB) was founded and
represented 142,000 workers.
1869 (United States)
Uriah Stephans organized a new union known as the Knights of Labor.
13 January 1874 (United States)
The original Tompkins Square Riot. 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.
Commented Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: "It was the most
glorious sight I ever saw..."
12 February 1877 (United States)
Great Railroad Strike -- U.S. railroad workers began strikes to protest wage
21 June 1877 (United States)
Ten coal-mining activists ("Molly Maguires") were hanged in Pennsylvania.
14 July 1877 (United States)
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 (recently returned from an Indian massacre)
killed 30 workers and wounded over 100.
5 September 1882 (United States)
Thirty thousand workers marched in the first Labor Day parade in New York
The Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC), a Canada-wide central
federation of trade unions was formed.
1884 (United States)
The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, forerunner of the
American Federation of Labor, passed a resolution stating that "8 hours shall
constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886."
March 1886 (United States)
The Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886 was a labor union strike against
the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads involving more than 200,000
1 May 1886 (United States)
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
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 May 5th, 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
4 May 1886 (United States)
The Haymarket Riot, in Chicago, Illinois, is the origin of international May
4 October 1887 (United States)
The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of "prominent citizens," shot 35
unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage, and lynched
two strike leaders.
June 1888 (United Kingdom)
The London matchgirls strike of 1888 was a strike of the women and teenage
girls working at the Bryant and May Factory in Bow, London. The strike was
prompted by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen
hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications
of working with yellow (or white) phosphorus, such as phossy jaw.
25 July 1890 (United States)
New York garment workers won the right to unionize after a seven-month
strike. They secured agreements for a closed shop, and firing of all scabs.
6 July 1892 (United States)
Homestead Strike -- Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the
introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel-workers in
Homestead, Pennsylvania. In the ensuing battle, three Pinkertons surrendered;
then, unarmed, they were set upon and beaten by a mob of townspeople, most of
them women. Seven guards and eleven strikers and spectators were shot to
11 July 1892 (United States)
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho labor strike of 1892 -- Striking miners in Coeur
D'Alene, Idaho dynamited the Frisco Mill, leaving it in ruins.
1894 (United Kingdom)
History of Trade Unionism, the influential book by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
is first published.
7 February 1894 (United States)
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.
11 May - 10 July 1894 (United States)
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 raged on, burning and
looting railroad cars and fighting 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.
The Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), was formed. This French union
is the oldest confederation still in existence.
21 September 1896 (United States)
The state militia was sent to Leadville, Colorado to break a miner's strike.
10 September 1897 (United States)
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
1898 (United States)
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
1899 (United States)
Miners in Idaho dynamite a mill in retaliation for the Bunker Hill Mining
Company firing 17 union members.
12 October 1902 (United States)
The Anthracite Coal Strike -- Fourteen miners were killed and 22 wounded by
scabherders at Pana, Illinois. The miner get to raise their wages 10% higher
and 9-hour day.
23 November 1903 (United States)
Colorado Labor Wars -- Troops were dispatched to Cripple Creek, Colorado to
defeat a strike by the Western Federation of Miners, with the specific purpose
of driving the union out of the district. The strike had begun in the ore mills
earlier in 1903, and then spread to the mines.
July 1903 (United States)
Labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones leads child workers in demanding
a 55 hour work week.
8 June 1904 (United States)
A battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners at Dunnville ended
with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. Seventy-nine of the strikers
were deported to Kansas two days later.
17 April 1905 (United States)
The Supreme Court held that a maximum hours law for New York bakery workers
was unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 14th amendment.
1908 (United States)
The Erdman Act was further weakened when Section 10 was declared
unconstitutional. This section had made it illegal for railroad employers to
fire employees for being involved in union activities and use "yellow dog"
contracts (see 1898).
22 November 1909 (United States)
The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909 (Uprising of the 20,000). Female
garment workers went on strike in New York; many were arrested. A judge told
those arrested: "You are on strike against God."
October 1, 1910 (United States)
Los Angeles Times building 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.
25 December 1910 (United States)
A dynamite bomb destroyed a portion of the Llewellyn Iron works in Los
Angeles, where a bitter 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 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 June 24, 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).
25 March 1911 (United States)
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-seven people, mostly women and young
girls working in sweatshop conditions, died.
January-March 1912 (United States)
Lawrence textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, often known as the
"Bread and Roses" strike. Dozens of different immigrant communities united under
the leadership of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in a largely
successful strike led to a large extent by women. The strike is credited with
inventing the moving picket line, a tactic devised to keep strikers from being
arrested for loitering.
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
18 April 1912 (United States)
The National Guard was called out against striking West Virginia coal
7 July 1912 (United States)
Striking members of the Brotherhood of Timber Workers and supporters are
involved in an armed confrontation with the Galloway Lumber Company and
supporters in the Grabow Riot, resulting in four deaths and 40 to 50 wounded.
11 June 1913 (United States)
Police shot three maritime workers (one of whom was killed) who were
striking against the United Fruit Company in New Orleans.
5 January 1914 (United States)
The Ford Motor Company raised its basic wage from $2.40 for a nine hour day
to $5 for an eight hour day.
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.
13 November 1914 (United States)
A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia in Butte,
19 January 1915 (United States)
World famous labor leader Joe Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City. He was
convicted on trumped up 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!"
On this same day, twenty rioting strikers were shot by factory guards at
Roosevelt, New Jersey.
25 January 1915 (United States)
The Supreme Court upholds "yellow dog" contracts, which forbid membership in
22 July 1916 (United States)
A bomb was set off during a "Preparedness Day" parade in San Francisco,
killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Thomas J. Mooney, a labor organizer and Warren
K. Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted, but were both pardoned in 1939.
19 August 1916 (United States)
Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner Neil Jamison attacked and
beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused
to intervene, claiming that the waterfront where the incident took place was
Federal land and therefore outside their jurisdiction. (When the picketers
retaliated against the strikebreakers that evening, the local police intervened,
claiming that they had crossed the line of jurisdiction.)
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.
7 September 1916 (United States)
Federal employees win the right to receive Worker's Compensation insurance.
5 November 1916 (United States)
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, November 5, 1916. The tragic event marked a time of rising
tensions in Pacific Northwest labor history.
15 March 1917 (United States)
The Supreme Court approved the Eight-Hour Act under the threat of a national
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.
1 August 1917 (United States)
IWW organizer Frank Little was lynched in Butte, Montana.
5 September 1917 (United States)
Federal agents raid the IWW headquarters in 48 cities.
3 June 1918 (United States)
A Federal child labor law, enacted two years earlier, was declared
unconstitutional. A new law was enacted 24 February 1919, but this one too was
declared unconstitutional (on 2 June 1924).
27 July 1918 (Canada)
United Mine Workers organizer Ginger Goodwin was shot by a hired private
policeman outside Cumberland, British Columbia.
The International Labour Organization (ILO), now a specialized agency of the
United Nations, was formed through the negotiations of the Treaty of Versailles,
and was initially an agency of the League of Nations.
26 August 1919 (United States)
United Mine Worker organizer Fannie Sellins was gunned down by company
guards in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.
19 September 1919 (United States)
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.
11 November 1919 (United States)
Centralia Massacre -- IWW organizer Wesley Everest was lynched after a
Centralia, Washington IWW hall was attacked by Legionnaires.
22 December 1919 (United States)
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
2 January 1920 (United States)
The U.S. Bureau of Investigation began carrying out the nationwide Palmer
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
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 "the largest insurrection this
country has had since the Civil War." Army troops later intervened against the
striking mineworkers in West Virginia.
22 June 1922 (United States)
Herrin massacre -- Thirty-six people are killed, 21 of them non-union
miners, during a coal-mine strike at Herrin, Illinois.
July 1922 (United States)
Great Railroad Strike of 1922
1 September 1922 (United States)
Federal judge James H. Wilkerson issues a sweeping injunction against
striking, assembling, picketing, and a variety of other union activities, known
as the "Daugherty Injunction."
14 June 1923 (United States)
Maritime strike. A San Pedro, California IWW hall was raided. Several
children were scalded when the hall was demolished.
2 June 1924 (United States)
Child Labor Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed. Only 28 of the
necessary 36 states ever ratified it.
1 May 1925 (China)
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) was officially founded.
With 134 million members it is the largest trade union in the world. However
many, such as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, maintain the
position that the ACFTU is not an independent trade union organisation.
25 May 1925 (United States)
Two company houses occupied by nonunion coal miners were blown up and
destroyed by labor "racketeers" during a strike against the Glendale Gas and
Coal Company in Wheeling, West Virginia.
11 June 1925 (Canada)
1 coal miner was killed and many injured during a protest as a result of a
major strike at the British Empire Steel and Coal Company (BESCO) in New
Waterford, Nova Scotia. Davis Day was established in the memory of Bill Davis,
the miner who was murdered by company police. The labour dispute resulted in the
deployment of 2,000 soldiers during the largest peacetime deployment of the
Canadian Army for an internal conflict since the Northwest Rebellion of 1885.
1926 (United States)
Textile workers fought with police in Passaic, New Jersey. A year-long
21 November 1927 (United States)
Picketing coal miners marching under the banner of the Industrial Workers of
the World were massacred in the Columbine mine massacre in the company town of
1928 (United States)
The Southern textile strikes of 1929 as the prelude to the wider and more
significant strike of the 1930's
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 injurying many more at the Rothbury Riot.
3 February 1930 (United States)
"Chicagorillas" -- labor racketeers -- shot and killed contractor William
Healy, with whom the Chicago Marble Setters Union had been having difficulties.
14 April 1930 (United States)
Over 100 farm workers were arrested for their unionizing activities in
Imperial Valley, California. Eight were subsequently convicted of "criminal
4 May 1931 (United States)
Gun-toting vigilantes attack striking miners in Harlan County, Kentucky.
7 March 1932 (United States)
Police kill striking workers at Ford's Dearborn, Michigan plant.
10 October 1933 (United States)
18,000 cotton workers went on strike in Pixley, California. Four were killed
before a pay-hike was finally won.
1934 (United States)
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.
May 1934 (United States)
Police stormed striking truck drivers in Minneapolis who were attempting to
prevent truck movement in the market area.
1 September - 22 September 1934 (United States)
A strike in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, part of a national movement to obtain
a minimum wage for textile workers, resulted in the deaths of three workers.
Over 420,000 workers ultimately went on strike.
9 November 1935 (United States)
The Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) was formed to expand
11 February 1937 (United States)
General Motors recognizes the United Auto Workers union following a sit-down
strike in Flint, Michigan, that began in December 1936.
Two months later, company guards beat up United Auto Workers leaders at the
River Rouge Plant, in River Rouge, Michigan.
30 May 1937 (United States)
Police kill 10 and wounded 30 during the "Memorial Day Massacre" at the
Republic Steel plant in Chicago.
25 June 1938 (United States)
The Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act is passed, banning
child labor and setting the 40-hour work week. The Act went into effect in
October 1940, and was upheld in the Supreme Court on 3 February 1941.
27 February 1939 (United States)
The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes are illegal.
20 June 1941 (United States)
Henry Ford recognizes the UAW.
15 December 1941 (United States)
The AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related industry
plants for the duration of the war.
28 December 1944 (United States)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army to seize the executive
offices of Montgomery Ward and Company after the corporation failed to comply
with a National War Labor Board directive regarding union shops.
1946 (United States)
Workers in packinghouses nation-wide went on strike.
1 April 1946 (United States)
A strike by 400,000 mine workers in the U.S. began. U.S. troops seized
railroads and coal mines the following month.
4 October 1946 (United States)
The U.S. Navy seized oil refineries in order to break a 20-state post-war
20 June 1947 (United States)
The Taft-Hartley Labor Act, curbing strikes, was vetoed by President Truman.
Congress overrode the veto.
20 April 1948 (United States)
Labor leader Walter Reuther was shot and seriously wounded by would-be
The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise
Convention, 1948, one of the two primary labour conventions of the ILO, came
into force on July 4.
27 August 1950 (United States)
President Truman ordered the U.S. Army to seize all the nation's railroads
to prevent a general strike. The railroads were not returned to their owners
until two years later.
The Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949, one of the
two primary labour conventions of the ILO, came into force on July 18.
8 April 1952 (United States)
President Truman ordered the U.S. Army to seize the nation's steel mills to
avert a strike. The act was ruled to be illegal by the Supreme Court on 2 June.
April 1955 (United States)
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.
April 1956 (Canada)
The largest Canadian trade union centre, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC),
5 April 1956 (United States)
Columnist Victor Riesel, a crusader against labor racketeers, was blinded in
New York City when a hired assailant threw sulfuric acid in his face.
14 September 1959 (United States)
The Landrum-Griffin Act passes, restricting union activity.
7 November 1959 (United States)
The Taft-Hartley Act is invoked by the Supreme Court to break a steel
1962 (United States)
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.
1 April 1963 (United States)
The 1962 New York City newspaper strike, longest newspaper strike in U.S.
history ended. The 9 major newspapers in New York City had ceased publication
over 114 days before.
10 June 1963 (United States)
Congress passes a law mandating equal pay to women.
May 1968 - What began as a student protest developed into a nationwide general
5 January 1970 (United States)
Joseph Yablonski, unsuccessful reform candidate to unseat W. A. Boyle as
President of the United Mine Workers, was murdered, along with his wife and
daughter, in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania home by assassins acting on Boyle's
orders. Boyle was later convicted of the killing.
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.
1979 (United States)
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.
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.
October 1982 (United States)
A boycott was initiated by the Industrial Association of Machinists (IAM)
against Brown & Sharpe. The National Labor Relations Board later charged Brown &
Sharpe with regressive bargaining, and of entering into negotiations with the
express purpose of not reaching an agreement with the union. (See IAM for more
1984 (United States)
Hormel meat strike fails. The documentary American Dream chronicles the
1985 (Vatican City)
The Association of Vatican Lay Workers was formed, but was not recognised 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.
6 October 1986 (United States)
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)) 
4 April 1989 (Poland)
Round table negotiations between Solidarity and the then-Communist
government result in semi-free parliamentary elections in Poland, a pivotal
moment in fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. Solidarity leader Lech
Wałęsa is elected President in August of that year.
 See also