Tag: labor history

Brush Up On Your Union History

The history of organized labor has been rich with dedicated individuals, larger-than-life heroes, and momentous achievements for the American worker. It also serves as a fascinating topic for authors, and their readers. If you’re interested in catching up on the ins-and-outs of the union movement, here’s a reading list to get you started:  “What Unions No Longer Do” (2014) by Jake Rosenfeld — From workers’ wages to presidential elections, labor unions once exerted tremendous clout in American life. Sadly for workers, that influence has been eroded. What Unions No Longer Do lays bare the broad repercussions of labor’s collapse for ... Read more

Karen Silkwood

On Nov. 13, 1974, one of the most famous whistleblowers of all time was killed in what is now believed a company-supported murder when she died in a car accident after exposing wrongdoing at a plutonium plant where she worked. 28-year old Karen Silkwood was a Kerr-McGee plutonium plant technician in Oklahoma City and a member of her union’s health and safety committee (Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, OCAW). Two months before her death, she went to the federal Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to report dangerous levels of radioactivity at the plant when monitors showed she had radiation contamination. After ... Read more

Vintage UAW Labor Day Sign Has Meaning Today

This UAW Labor Day sign from years ago shows the power of unions has always benefitted the lives of workers. The details may have changed since then but the message is the same: Belonging to a union means a better life for workers.

The History of Labor Day

You work hard. And when Labor Day hits Sept. 4 you know it’s your day to celebrate your role in making our economy strong while you provide for your family. Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer with parades and barbecues and is a mainstay of American culture. But it wasn’t always that way on the first Monday of September. Labor Day started at the state level. New York was the first state to introduce Labor Day legislation. In 1887 Oregon became the first state to pass it. By 1894, almost 30 states followed suit. But it took a ... Read more

The First May Day On May 1, 1886

On a spring Saturday on May 1, 1886, workers at 13,000 businesses across America took a stand against dangerous work and low wages, and for an eight-hour workday. An estimated 300,000 to a half million workers, many of them immigrants, rallied and paraded through city centers in a general strike to demand an end to unsafe factory jobs with high death rates and little pay while corporations raked in booming profits. They also were encouraged by the growing labor movement and populist politics sweeping the nation as immigrants poured into the U.S. looking for a better life and found only backbreaking exploitation in dirty, unsafe factories. Power ... Read more