Destroying The Middle Class Dreams One Busted Union At a Time

There is a movement in Americaby conservative groups to demonize unions as bad for the country because unions are bad for corporations. Anyone with a pulse knows Republicans are in opposition to anything that threatens the power of corporations, and conservatives protect corporate America at any cost.

Recently, a Fox News commentator blamed unions for the auto industry’s financial problems. They also blamed oil prices and Japanese imports as the reason GM and Chrysler were near bankruptcy. However, that argument falls way short of credibility when one considers that there are three major car makers in America and only two needed a bailout.

Blaming unions, oil prices, and Japanese imports is invalid because Ford Motor Company survived the recession without a government bailout, and they use the exact same union as GM and Chrysler, pay the same oil prices, and have the same competition from Japanese auto-makers. Using unions as a scapegoat is a tired argument that is absurd.

One has to wonder if conservatives enjoy weekends off, lunch breaks, and safe working conditions. Without these union’s efforts in the past, corporations would force employees to work 20 hour days for whatever wage the corporations could get away with, and if workers lived in poverty, so be it.  After WWII, the prosperity America enjoyed was because unions aided workers with living wages and bargaining power. With higher wages came more home ownership, tax revenue, and buying power. Union wages also helped build the middle class in America. When conservatives demonize unions, it is to protect corporations, and in effect, destroy the middle class.

Conservatives have fought to prevent union organization at corporate giants like Wal-Mart to keep wages low so they can make more profits and abuse their workforce. Wal-Mart employees in Europe are represented by unions, and workers enjoy paid sick leave, living wages, 4-6 weeks of vacation, and retirement plans that make the golden years tolerable.  European workers do not understand why their “brothers and sisters” in America cannot have union representation.

Demonizing and breaking unions is not new, but more so recently Ronald Reagan, who was once himself a union president, was the worst offender. The mining industry’s deadly accidents occur at companies that are not represented by unions, and the West Virginia mine explosion is an example of Reagan’s union-busting results. The only benefactors of non-union sites are corporations; corporations do not share their obscene profits with employees, and they prevent employees from refusing to work in hazardous conditions.  Corporate protection at the expense of worker safety is endemic of conservative’s ideology that corporations must be protected at any cost.  Demonizing unions is just another way conservatives give corporations power to control America.  Union representation is one of the last roadblocks to complete corporate takeover in America, and denying union representation is a conservative tactic to destroy the middle class inAmerica.

It is not new for conservatives to protect corporations at the expense of workers, and propaganda that unions are evil is a weapon that Republicans are ramping up again because of the sluggish economy. People who do not enjoy union representation would not oppose unions if they didn’t fear losing their jobs, and given the choice with a secret ballot, most would choose to be in a union. But fear mongers and corporate shills, this current group of Republican leadership, know they can fool ignorant folks with lies and threats of losing their poverty level jobs for attempting to join or organize a union.  At some point, America will become a corporation, and 98% of Americans will live in poverty because Republicans are hell bent on destroying the middle class.

Recent laws passed giving Tax Breaks for moving jobs out of the country, no corporate taxes, and deregulation does nothing to benefit workers and only makes sure corporations continue raping America.  America is becoming a second rate country now, and as we fall behind the rest of the industrialized world, corporations are thriving.

There is no doubt that corporate control of the government is here now.

Don’t believe it? The Supreme Court’s decision to give person status to corporations is one of the final nails in America’s coffin. Demonizing and disbanding unions may well be the final nail, and the blame lies with ignorant jealous people for believing lying Republican rapists.  It is sad that the one means of building the middle class in America is being portrayed as evil and bad for America.  Republicans and their conservative ideology dictates that corporations are America.  Republicans wrap their corporatist mindset in the flag, demonize unions as  communist, and keep the workforce in poverty to protect corporations through religion.

Unions are the last defense for American workers, and Republicans have mounted an all out attack on unions, and subsequently, American workers.

On this “Labor Day” I have compiled a list of the long fought history that Labor Unions have given the quality of life that many enjoy today but are under threat by the mindless ultra conservatives Low Information Voters lobbying against their own interest.  We need to review and relearn our own history.

As you will note by being highlighted below, many in the past gave their lives so that we today could have a 40 hour work week, vacation time from work, lunch breaks, not having our children to work but instead get an education, and medical and retirement benefits.


Profit sharing originated at Albert Gallatin’s glass works in New Geneva, Pennsylvania


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” and fined.

27 April 1825

Carpenters in Boston were the first to stage a strike for the 10 hour workday.

3 July 1835

Children employed in the silk mills in Paterson, New Jersey go on strike for the 11 hour day, 6 days a week.

March 1842

Commonwealth vs. 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.

July 1851

Two railroad strikers are shot dead and others injured by the state militia in Portage, New York.


800 women operatives and 4,000 workmen marched during a shoemaker’s strike in Lynn, Massachusetts.


The first railroad labor union, The Brotherhood of the Footboard, later renamed the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, is formed inMarshall,Michigan.


National Labor Union formed “1st National Labor Federation” in theUS.


Uriah Stephans organized a new union known as the Knights of Labor.


The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen was established. In 1906 it became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen.

13 January 1874

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. Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police stated, “It was the most glorious sight I ever saw.”

12 February 1877

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 The U.S.railroad workers began strikes to protest wage cuts. It started in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and then spread to many other states.

4 July 1877

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, that had recently returned from an Indian massacre, killed 30 workers and wounded over 100.

5 September 1882

Thirty thousand workers marched in the first Labor Day parade inNew York City.


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.”


Ten coal-mining activists, “Molly Maguires” were hanged inPennsylvania.

March 1886

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 workers.

1 May 1886

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 of Labor.

1 May 1886

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 matter.

4 May 1886

The Haymarket Riot, in Chicago, Illinois, is the origin of international May Day observances.

22 November 1887

In the “Thibodaux Massacre” in Thibodaux, Louisiana a local militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shot at least 35
unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage, and lynched two strike leaders.


Labor Leader Eugene V. Debs founded the American Railway Union (ARU) as an all craft organization. The ARU, however, was destroyed a few years later by company management, with government collusion and the use of federal troops during the Pullman Strike in 1894.

25 July 1890

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

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 death.

11 July 1892

Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho Labor Strike of 1892  Striking miners in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho dynamited the Frisco Mill, leaving it in ruins.


Unions helped win the passage of the Safety Appliance Act.  Among other things, the Act outlawed the “old man killer link and pin coupler” by railroads.

7 February 1894

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.

21 April – June 1894

Bituminous Coal Miners’ Strike of 1894.  A two-month nation-wide strike by miners of hard coal in the United States. This unsuccessful strike almost destroyed the United Mine Workers union.

11 May – 10 July 1894

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.

21 September 1896

The state militia was sent to Leadville, Colorado to break a miner’s strike.

10 September 1897

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 organized themselves.


The Erdman Act was passed providing for mediation and voluntary arbitration on the railroads. It made it a criminal offense for
railroads to dismiss employees or to discriminate against prospective employees because of their union membership or activity. It provided legal protection of employees’ rights to membership in a labor union, a limit on the use of injunctions in labor disputes, lawful status of picketing and other union activities, and requirement of employers to bargain collectively. Subsequently, 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 Supreme Court.


Miners in Idaho dynamite a mill in retaliation for the Bunker Hill Mining Company firing 17 union members.

12 October 1902

The Anthracite Coal Strike. Fourteen miners were killed and 22 wounded by scab herders at Pana, Illinois. The miners get to raise their wages 10% higher and 9-hour day.

23 November 1903

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

Labor organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones leads child workers in demanding a 55 hour work week.

8 June 1904

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 toKansas two days later.

17 April 1905

The Supreme Court held that a maximum hours law for New Yorkbakery workers was unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.


The Federal Employers’ Liability Act was passed. Also that year, the Erdman Act was further weakened by the Supreme Court when Section 10, related to use of “yellow dog” contracts, was declared unconstitutional.

22 November 1909

The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909 also known as the “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.”


The 1910 Accident Reports Act was passed and a 10-hour work day and standardization of rates of pay and working conditions were won by the Railway Brotherhoods.  Union membership topped 8 million workers in 1910.

October 1, 1910

Los Angles 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

A dynamite bomb destroyed a portion of the Llewellyn Iron works in Los Angles, 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.


The Locomotive Inspection Act passed. Four years later, the Hours of Service Act passed. The Railroad Brotherhoods had won an 8-hour day. The Supreme Court in Gompers vs. 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 (233U.S. 604 1914).

25 March 1911

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-six people, mostly women and young girls working in sweatshop conditions, died.

January–March 1912

Lawrencetextile 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 nation.

18 April 1912

The National Guard was called out against striking West Virginiacoal miners.

7 July 1912

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

Police shot three maritime workers, one of whom was killed, who were striking against the United Fruit Company in New Orleans.


According to a report by the Commission on Industrial Relations, approximately 35,000 workers were killed in industrial accidents and 700,000 workers were injured in theU.S.

5 January 1914

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

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

A Western Federation of Miners strike is crushed by the militia inButte,Montana.

19 January 1915

World famous labor leader Joe Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City, Utah.  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

The Supreme Court upholds “yellow dog” contracts, which forbid membership in labor unions.

22 July 1916

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

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. Of course later 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

Federal employees win the right to receive Worker’s Compensation insurance.

5 November 1916

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

The Supreme Court approved the Eight Hour Act under the threat of a national railway strike.

12 July 1917

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

IWW organizer, Frank Little was lynched inButte,Montana.

5 September 1917

Federal agents raid the IWW headquarters in 48 cities.

3 June 1918

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.

26 August 1919

United Mine Worker organizer Fannie Sellins was gunned down by company guards in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.

19 September 1919

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

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

Centralia Massacre IWW organizer Wesley Everest was lynched after a Centralia, Washington IWW hall was attacked by

22 December 1919

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 Scare.”

2 January 1920

The U.S. Bureau of Investigation began carrying out the nationwide Palmer Raids.

19 May 1920

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. 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 largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War.” Army troops later intervened against the striking mineworkers inWest Virginia.

22 June 1922

Herrin Massacre. Thirty-six people are killed, 21 of them non-union miners, during a coal-mine strike atHerrin,Illinois.

July 1922

The Great Railroad Strike of 1922 1 September 1922 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

Maritime strike. A San Pedro, California IWW hall was raided. Several children were scalded when the hall was demolished.

2 June 1924

Child Labor Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed.  Only 28 of the necessary 36 states ever ratified it.

25 May 1925

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.


The Railway Labor Act passed. It required employers, for the first time and under penalty of law, to bargain collectively and not to discriminate against their employees for joining a union. It provided also for mediation, voluntary arbitration, fact-finding boards, cooling off periods and adjustment boards. Textile workers fought with police in Passaic, New Jersey. A year long strike ensued.

21 November 1927

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 Serene, Colorado.

1 April 1929

Loray Mill Strike Gastonia, North Carolina.  Violent and relatively unsuccessful Loray Mill Strike during which the National Guard was called, and 100 plus masked men destroyed the National Textile Workers Union building. Crushing Southern textile worker’s collective bargaining efforts made a furor in US national news, giving momentum and urgency to the more successful labor movement of the 1930s.

3 February 1930

“Chicagorillas” labor racketeers shot and killed contractor William Healy, with whom the Chicago Marble Setters Union had been having difficulties.

14 April 1930

Over 100 farm workers were arrested for their unionizing activities in Imperial Valley, California. Eight were subsequently convicted of “criminal syndicalism.”

4 May 1931

Gun toting vigilantes attack striking miners in Harlan County, Kentucky.

7 March 1932

Police kill striking workers at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant.

10 October 1933

18,000 cotton workers went on strike in Pixley, California.  Four were killed before a pay-hike was finally won.


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

Police attacked and fired upon striking Teamster truck drivers in Minneapolis who were demanding recognition of their union, wage increases, and shorter working hours. As violence escalated, Governor Olson went so far as to declare martial law in Minneapolis, deploying 4,000 National Guardsmen. The strike ended on August 21 when company owners finally accepted union demands.

1–22 September 1934

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.


The National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, was passed. It clearly established the right of all workers to organize and to elect their representative for collective bargaining purposes.

9 November 1935

The Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) was formed to expand industrial unionism.

11 February 1937

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

Police kill 10 and wounded 30 during the “Memorial Day Massacre” at the Republic Steel plant inChicago.

25 June 1938

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

The Supreme Court rules that sit down strikes are illegal.

20 June 1941

Henry Ford recognizes the UAW.

15 December 1941

The AFL pledges that there will be no strikes in defense-related industry plants for the duration of the war.

28 December 1944

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.


Workers in packinghouses nation-wide went on strike.

1 April 1946

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

The U.S. Navy seized oil refineries in order to break a 20-state post-war strike.

20 June 1947

The Taft – Hartley Labor Act, curbing strikes, was vetoed by President Truman. The Republican majority Congress overrode the veto.

20 April 1948

Labor leader Walter Reuther was shot and seriously wounded by would-be assassins.

27 August 1950

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.

8 April 1952

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

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

The two largest labor organizations in the U.S.merged to form the AFL-CIO, with a membership estimated at 15 million.

5 April 1956

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 Septemer 1959

The Landrum – Griffin Act passes, restricting union activity.

7 November 1959

The Taft – Hartley Act is invoked by the Supreme Court to break a steel strike.


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

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

Congress passes a law mandating equal pay to women.


Members of four railroad unions voted overwhelmingly for the largest union merger ever in the railroad industry. The merger created a powerful new union called the United Transportation Union (UTU).

5 January 1970

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

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 Farm Workers forced Californiagrape growers to sign an agreement after a five-year strike.

3 August 1981

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. Reagan ordered them to leave.

October 1982

A boycott was initiated by the Industrial Association of Machinists (IAM) against Brown & Sharp. 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.


Hormel meat strike fails. The documentary American Dream chronicles the strike.

6 October 1986

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))


10 Responses to “Destroying The Middle Class Dreams One Busted Union At a Time”

  1. Jeff Says:

    When I was a kid, people worked half a day on Saturday and stores were closed on Sunday. My dad owned a company and HE brought the union in so his employees could get affordable health insurance and a pension. I’ve always worked in management of union shops and we got what the union got, only better. It was sweet. I only shop at Kroger, not because it is union, but because its employees get a living wage and decent benefits (due to the union). I shop at Target for the same reason. If you need to shop at a price club, stay away from Sam’s and shop at Costco.

    I assume you’re referring to Senate Bill 5. Much talk about it in my family; spouse, sister, sister-in-law and niece are all teachers. I still have a problem with giving the union bosses any more power. I have first hand experience dealing with union bosses and it’s not good. I have friends who are union officials and even some of them (not all) say the unions have gone too far. I look at SB-5 as killing a fly with a sledge hammer. But if you look at the current public union negotiations going on in Toledo, you’ll see that leaving things as is doesn’t work.

  2. microdot Says:

    Well, it’s all about messaging, media repetition, the use of language as a meat tenderizer for the pre softened brains of intellectual and morally lazy American Public. Reagan was the best product spokesperson corporacracy every had…he was able to implant the corporate sponsored meme that Unions were bad for America….
    The Unions haven’t been able to get their positive message across to America since the 70’s when they had those great “Look For The Union Lable” commercials on TV.

  3. Engineer Of Knowledge Says:

    Hello Jeff,
    Thanks for stopping by. Yes when I was still in high school I worked for Safeway Stores and we all belonged to a Retailer’s Union out of Washington D.C. I would also like to add that I too have many teachers in my family. My father, a daughter, an aunt, and cousin, are all school teachers.

    It really makes me angry when I hear all of the right wing Bull Crap demeaning those who I know are good conscience teachers.

    With reference to shopping, the first thing I look for is to see if it is made in this country, and if it is union made, better yet.

    I was not referring to any Senate Bill in this piece but I welcome your interjection of it into this piece. I know that dealing with a union can be trying but at least there is a voice to be heard from the “Rank and File.” Without it the corporations have no checks and balances.

    “I have friends who are union officials and even some of them (not all) say the unions have gone too far.” My grandfather was a West Virginia union coal miner back in 1915 through 1940’s when he quit and started working for Westinghouse. In the early days he was caught in a cave in when there were no safety laws. Well to continue, by the 1960’s even he said that the unions had gone too far.

    I am glad to have you stop by and don’t be a stranger. 🙂

  4. Engineer Of Knowledge Says:

    Hello Microdot,
    It is good to hear from you. Thank for your comment. There needs to be a better working relationship and understanding about what services unions have brought to the working (middle) classes. I am afraid that the pendulum has swung too far to one side.

  5. Jeff Says:

    F.Y.I.: This past summer, Wisconsin passed some legislation that was deemed anti-union. Remember the Democrat State Senators hiding out in Chicago to stymie the vote and the Wisconsin Statehouse being occupied by protesters? Ohio passed similar legislation referred to as SENATE BILL 5. Unlike Wisconsin, Ohio has a mechanism to put the measure on the ballot if the opposers get enough signatures. They did and we are in full pro-union v.s. pro-cost control (Issue 2) mode here until the election decides this November. Stay tuned.

  6. Engineer Of Knowledge Says:

    Thanks Jeff for passing this on and you will be sure I will keep following this matter.

  7. mudrake Says:

    WOW! Engineer, you have posted a most excellent expose’ of big business v. the common man. I note the AutoLite reference here in Toledo. By the way, that incident galvanized the city of Toledo into one of the strongest pro-union towns in the U.S.

    You write, There is a movement in America by conservative groups to demonize unions as bad for the country because unions are bad for corporations.

    Of course and why wouldn’t they? After all, the corporations love these unpaid, know-nothing right-wingers doing their dirty work for them. It’s the ideal corporate dream– free promotion by mindless robots who are ‘programmed’ to do their bidding 24/7 by the AM talk radio corporate shills.

    I’d bet that not one of the right-wing bloggers who I have read has the slightest knowledge of the historical struggle for workers rights waged in this nation. Dumb and dangerous!

  8. Engineer of Knowledge Says:

    Hello Muddy,
    Yes two men were killed and over two hundred were wounded when the National Guard opened fire on the strikers fighting for living wages and safety concerns with eight rifle companies and three machine gun companies.

    What brave souls those strikers were knowing what they were doing and dieing for was for a better life for their children and grandchildren and now TODAY there are those who cheer loudly along with the same corporations that had economically enslaved their forefathers (even as children at the age of 11) and would do the same today if not REGULATED BY LAWS passed at that time.

    So when you hear the mindless Teabagger “Patriots” pounding the drum that we need to repeal and remove those “Restricting Regulations,” that kills jobs and cause U.S. companies going over seas, look into the real message being asked for.

  9. Stacy Says:

    The wrong people are reading this! If only we could get the right wing to listen and learn, maybe they will see their fighting against themselves. Mindless lemmings, to dumb to see the writing on the wall.

  10. Engineer Of Knowledge Says:

    Hello Stacy,
    Thank you for stopping by and I agree. We need to reeducate the voting public of the values that the unions brought to our standard of living.

    Please feel free to visit again soon.

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