Friday, February 12, 2016
Text Size


Labor Related Issues of the Period

  • Though the timeline below does not show it, a growing trend developed and continues for the unification of unions in related occupations. In the 1990s, unions with no apparent connection are merging to form large associations. This mirrors the trend s in business consolidations for reasons of economy of resources.

Labor Related Events of the Period

Largest strike wave in history as pent up labor troubles are unleashed by the end of war-time controls.
Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act which restricts union activities and permits the states to pass "right-to-work" laws.
The Norris-La Guardia Act prohibition against injunctions in labor disputes was held to be inapplicable to the Government in U.S. v. John L. Lewis.
General Motors and the United Auto Workers signed the first major contract with an escalator clause, providing for wage increases based on the Consumer Price Index.
In Washington D.C., the Federal Governments first national conference on industrial safety met.
An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 directly prohibited child labor for the first time.
The CIO anti-Communist drive led to the expulsion of two unions at its annual convention. Nine other unions expelled by mid-1950.
Free, democratic trade unions from various countries withdrew from the World Federation of Trade Unions which came to be dominated by communists. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions formed in London by labor representatives of 51 countries.
A five year contract between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and General Motors granted pensions, automatic cost of living wage adjustments and a modified union shop.
An amendment to the Taft-Hartly Act permitted the negotiation of union shop agreements without previous polls of employees.
President Truman seized the steel industry when companies reject the Wage Stabilization Board's recommendations. An 8 week strike followed when the Supreme Court found the president's action unconstitutional.
George Meany became president of the AFL following the death of William Green. Walter Ruether, former UAW president, became president of the CIO following the death of Philip Murray.
Ford Motor Company and the UAW agreed to a supplementary unemployment compensation plan financed by company contributions.
The AFL and CIO reunited with George Meany as the first president. This brought together about 85% of all union members under one large union.
AFL-CIO expelled Bakery Workers, Laundry Workers and Teamsters for corruption.
The Landrum-Griffen Act (Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act) passed by Congress which regulates the internal affairs of unions in order to lessen corruption.
Federal employee's unions given the right to bargain collectively with government agencies as a result of President Kennedy's executive order.
The Equal Pay Act prohibited wage differences for workers based on sex.
The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Coalition bargaining occurred in negotiations between eleven unions and General Electric.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act went into effect. It made it illegal to discriminate in hiring or firing person between 40-65 on the basis of age.
The UAW left the AFL-CIO and joined the Teamsters in forming the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA).
The Department of Labor started to actively promote minority placement in the Philadelphia construction industry.
First mass postal strike in the history of the US Postal Service.
Hawaii became the first state to allow its state and local officials the right to strike.
Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
The major steel companies and the United Steelworkers of America approved an "Experimental Negotiation Agreement" where the union gave up the right to strike in favor of binding arbitration. The companies agreed to end stockpiling of products.
Washington became the first state to allow the union shop for civil service employees.
Coalition of Labor Union Women formed in Chicago.
Pension funds to be regulated by Congress under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
In response to the growth of public employee unionism, the AFL-CIO created a public employee department.
80,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) went on strike in the first legal large scale strike of public employees.
President and the Congress raised minimum wage to $2.65.
The first woman was appointed to the AFL-CIO executive board, Joyce Miller.
Most of the nation's air traffic controllers fired by President Reagan who then decertified their union in response to an illegal strike.
Population of the US: 248,709,873.

Important Concepts.

binding arbitration, coalition bargaining, consumer price index, Equal Pay Act, escalator clause, Landrum-Griffen Act, right-to-work laws, supplementary unemployment compensation, union shop

Integrating Labor History into Effective Teaching of the Period.

Have students interview family members about their experiences in union or non-union shops. Some students may have relatives that helped organize or tried to organize unions in their workplace. Some may have relatives who have worked in both types of a workplace, union or non-union. See i-view.doc for a sample form students can use in their interview. Students can present their interviews in an informal oral report format or prepare essays or posters.

"And I long to see the day when Labor will have the destiny of the nation in her own hands and she will stand as a united force and show the world what the workers can do." --- Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, 1830-1930

Get Involved



ILHSlogoIllinois Labor History Society
430 S. Michigan Ave. Room AUD 1361
Chicago, IL, 60605

Copyright © 2010
by Illinois Labor History Society

Website by WebTrax Studio
based on a template by RocketTheme