2015.01.26history-henry.morgan-workers.compJanuary 26
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 - 1695

Samuel Gompers, first AFL president, born in London, England. He emigrated to the U.S. as a youth - 1850

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." - 1897

Workers win a two-day sit-down strike at the Brooklyn electric plant that powers the city's entire subway system - 1937

A handful of American companies announce nearly 60,000 layoffs today, as the recession that began during the George W. Bush presidency charges full-tilt toward what became known as the Great Recession - 2009
(Union Strategies for Hard Times, 2nd Edition: What can unions do as the fallout of the 2015.01.26history-hard.timesGreat Recession continues to ravage workers and their unions and threatens to destroy decades of collective bargaining gains? What must local union leaders do to help their laid off members, protect those still working, and prevent the gutting of their hard-fought contracts—and their very unions themselves?
     Bill Barry, until recently director of labor studies at the Community College of Baltimore County and a 40-year veteran of the movement, calls on his long history of activism and years of "what works, what doesn’t" discussions with other leaders to come up with a plan to survive these terrible times and even use crisis to build a better future.)

January 27
New York City maids organize to improve working conditions - 1734

Mine explosion in Mount Pleasant, Pa., leaves more than 100 dead - 1891

First meeting of the Int’l Labor Organization (ILO) - 1920


Kansas miners strike against compulsory arbitration - 1920

2015.01.26history-power.in.unionA 3¢ postage stamp is issued, honoring AFL founder Samuel Gompers - 1950
(There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America is the sympathetic, thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement traces unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today.)

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 – 1969

Pete Seeger dies in New York at age 94. A musician and activist, he was a revered figure on the American2015.01.26history-seeger 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 - 2014

January 28
American Miners’ Association formed - 1861

First U.S. unemployment compensation law enacted, in Wisconsin - 1932

January 29
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 - 1834

Six thousand railway workers strike for a union and the end of 18-hour day - 1889

Sit-down strike helps establish United Rubber Workers as a national union, Akron, Ohio - 1936

American Train Dispatchers Department granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1957

2015.01.26history-dolly.9to5Dolly Parton hits number one on the record charts with "9 to 5," her anthem to the daily grind - 1981

Newly-elected President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and minorities to win pay discrimination suits - 2009

January 30
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was elected president of the United States four times starting in 1932. His New Deal programs helped America survive the Great Depression. His legislative achievements included the creation of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to organize unions, bargain collectively, and strike - 1882

January 312015.01.26history-Emma.Tenayuca
Some 12,000 pecan shellers in San Antonio, Texas—mostly Latino women—walk off their jobs at 400 factories in what was to become a three-month strike against wage cuts. Strike leader Emma Tenayuca was eventually hounded out of the state - 1938

Ida M. Fuller is the first retiree to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security law. She paid in $24.75 between 1937 and 1939 on an income of $2,484; her first check was for $22.54 - 1940

After scoring successes with representation elections conducted under the protective oversight of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the United Farm Workers of America officially ends its historic table grape, lettuce and wine boycotts - 1978
2015.01.26history-chavez.fight(The Fight in the Fields tells of legendary United Farm Workers of America founder and leader Cesar Chavez and his union’s struggles: to raise farmworker pay from .40 an hour; to win union recognition from savagely resistant grape and lettuce growers; to stop the use of deadly pesticides that were killing children in the fields. The pacifist Chavez endured several month-long fasts to counteract what he saw as a growing tendency toward violence in the farmworker movement, and many think those heroic acts contributed to his early death, at the age of 64.)

Union and student pressure forces Harvard University to adopt new labor policies raising wages for lowest-paid workers - 2002

Five months after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school board fires every teacher in the district in what the United Teachers of New Orleans sees as an effort to break the union and privatize the school system - 2005

February 01
Led by 23-year-old Kate Mullaney, the Collar Laundry Union forms in Troy, N.Y., and raises earnings for female laundry 2015.01.26history-paterson-silk-strikeworkers from $2 to $14 a week - 1864

Bricklayers begin working 8-hour days - 1867

Some 25,000 Paterson, N.J., silk workers strike for 8-hour work day and improved working conditions. Eighteen hundred were arrested over the course of the six-month walkout, led by the Wobblies. They returned to work on their employers’ terms - 1913

The federal minimum wage increases to $1.60 per hour - 1968

Int’l Brotherhood of Firemen & Oilers merge with Service Employees Int’l Union - 1995