From the beginning
The earliest recorded strike of workers (journeymen tailors) protesting a wage reduction.
Formation of the first trade union, the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers (shoemakers) in Philadelphia.
Mechanics’ Union of Trade Associations in Philadelphia begins uniting unions within a single city under a central labor body.
Before the right to vote
The first turnout of “mill girls” in Lowell, Massachusetts, to protest wage cuts.
Creation of the International Typographical Union begins bringing together local unions of the same trade from across the United States and Canada.
National Teachers Association is founded by teachers and other educational professionals when ten state education associations issue a call to “unite … to advance the dignity, respectability, and usefulness of their calling.”
A vision for the future
Knights of Labor were founded, and was the first national labor force to recruit women and African Americans as a matter of policy, to organize throughout the country, and to attempt to unify industrial and agrarian workers.
NTA elects Emily Rice
Just three years after membership is opened to women, the National Teachers Association elects Emily Rice as Vice President of the Association.
NTA becomes NEA
The NTA absorbs three smaller organizations, and gets its modern name: the National Education Association.
Enter the AFL
In Columbus, Ohio the American Federation of Labor (AFL) is founded and dedicated itself to gaining the right to bargain collectively for wages, benefits, hours, and working conditions.
We've always been organizers
Margaret Haley, Vice President of the Chicago Teachers’ Federation gives the "Why Teachers Should Organize"
speech at the National Education Association convention. Haley’s speech addressed the need to legitimize teacher unionism and inspire other teachers to organize in order to advance democracy in education.
Leading the way
A decade before Congress granted women the right to vote, Ella Flagg Young (an ally of Margaret Haley) was elected as the NEA’s first female president and helped transform the union.
A dark day...
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire killed 146 people, nearly all of them Jewish and Italian immigrant women and girls who toiled in the city’s garment industry. In response, the ILGWU called for a strike. Twenty thousand women across New York’s garment industry walked off their jobs in two days, picketing the unsafe conditions they labored under. It was the first major strike by women, for women, who held fast on the picket line as “sister strikers.”
The NEA RA
NEA adopts its modern structure of affiliated state and local unions, with delegates to the Representative Assembly—the world's largest democratic deliberative assembly.
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was the first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.
The CIO held its first convention in Pittsburgh adopting the name Congress of Industrial Organizations; in 1935 it had been formed in response to the enduring question of whether union organization should be based on skill or where you worked.
National Labor Relations Act
Created to protect workplace democracy by providing employees at private-sector workplaces the fundamental right to seek better working conditions and designation of representation without fear of retaliation.
Sit Down Strike
- A "sit-down" strike at the River Rouge plant forced Ford Motor Company, the last holdout among the major auto companies, to recognize and negotiate with the UAW, ushering in an era of industrial unionism.