Top 10 – Events in Organized Labor History

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Formation of the Knights of Labor
In 1869, the *Knights of Labor* were formed to unite all working men and women into a national trade union. This union sought to complete a large number of wide ranging reforms that included an standardized 8 hour work day, an abolition of child labor, and equal pay for both men and women. The Knights of Labor began to lose strength when the public unjustly blamed them for causing the *Haymarket Square Riot*.
Formation of the American Federation of Labor
The AFL was an alliance of skilled workers in craft unions. Under the leadership of *Samuel Gompers*, the AFL focused on attainable goals that were often call *”bread-a-butter”*, such as higher wages, shorter hours, and safer working conditions.
The Great Railroad Strike of 1877
This was the first major interstate strike in American history. It signaled the beginning of a period of strikes and violent conflicts between labor and management across the nation.
The Passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
The passage of this 1890 Act had little impact on the *regulation* of large *trusts*. However, it was used to curb *labor unions*.
The Pullman Strike
This began when the *Pullman Palace Car Company* cut the wages of its workers but did not reduce the rent or prices it charged workers in *company-run stores* at the *company-run town* of Pullman outside of Chicago in 1894. The *Pullman Strike* forced railroad traffic across the United States to halt. The strike ended when *President Cleveland* ordered federal troops to intervene on the grounds that the strike obstructed delivery of the U.S. Mail.
The Passage of the Wagner Act
Also known as the *National Labor Relations Act. This 1935 act guaranteed every laborer the right to join a *union* and use the union to *collectively bargain* with management.
Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations
Founded and led by John L. Lewis in 1935. The *CIO* unionized workers at all levels within an industry.
The Split between the AFL and the CIO
The *AFL* and *CIO* split apart at the national convention in 1935 because the *AFL* refused to grant charters to new unions organized on an industry-wide basis.
The Passage of the Taft-Hartly Act
The 1947 passage of this act was intended to curb the growing power of *labor unions*.
Formation of the United Farm Workers
In 1962, *Cesar Chavez* organized farm workers to help fight for their employment rights and protections.
Categories: History