Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
The Knights of Labor (K of L) (officially "Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor") was the largest and one of the most important American labor organizations of the 1880s. Its most important leader was Terence V. Powderly. The Knights promoted the social and cultural uplift of the workingman, rejected Socialism and radicalism, demanded the eight-hour day, and promoted the producers ethic of republicanism. In some cases it acted as a labor union, negotiating with employers, but it was never well organized, and after a rapid expansion in the mid-1880s, it suddenly lost its new members and became a small operation again.
It was established in 1869, reached 28,000 members in 1880, then jumped to 100,000 in 1885. Then it mushroomed to nearly 800,000 members in 1886, but its frail organizational structure could not cope and it was battered by charges of failure and violence. Most members abandoned the movement in 1886-87, leaving at most 100,000 in 1890. Remnants of the Knights of Labor continued in existence until 1949, when the group's last 50-member local dropped its affiliation.
In 1869, seven members of the Philadelphia tailors' union, headed by Uriah Smith Stephens and James L. Wright, established a secret union under the name the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor. The collapse of the National Labor Union in 1873 left a vacuum for workers looking for organization. The Knights became better organized with a national vision when they replaced Stephens with Terence V. Powderly. The body became popular with Pennsylvania coal miners during the economic depression of the mid-1870s, then it grew rapidly.
As membership expanded, the Knights began to function more as a labor union and less like a fraternal organization. Local assemblies began not only to emphasize cooperative enterprises, but to initiate strikes to win concessions from employers. Powderly opposed strikes as a "relic of barbarism," but the size and the diversity of the Knights afforded local assemblies a great deal of autonomy.
In 1882, the Knights ended their membership rituals and removed the words "Noble Order" from their name. This was to mollify the concerns of Catholic members and the bishops who wanted to avoid any resemblance to freemasonry. Though initially averse to strikes as a method to advance their goals, the Knights aided various strikes and boycotts. Their greatest victory was in the Union Pacific Railroad strike in 1884. The Wabash Railroad strike in 1885 was also a significant success, as Powderly finally supported what became a successful strike on Jay Gould's Wabash Line. Gould met with Powderly and agreed to call off his campaign against the Knights of Labor, which had caused the turmoil originally. These positive developments gave momentum and a surge of members, so by 1886, the Knights had over 700,000 members.
The Knights' primary demand was for an eight-hour day; they also called for legislation to end child and convict labor, as well as a graduated income tax. They were eager supporters of cooperatives.
The Knights of Labor had a mixed history of inclusiveness and exclusiveness, accepting women and blacks (after 1878) and their employers as members, and advocating the admission of blacks into local assemblies, but tolerating the segregation of assemblies in the South. Bankers, doctors, lawyers, stockholders, and liquor manufacturers were excluded because they were considered unproductive members of society. Asians were also excluded, and in November 1885, a branch of the Knights in Tacoma, Washington worked to expel the city's Chinese, who amounted to nearly a tenth of the overall city population at the time. The Knights were also responsible for race riots that resulted in the deaths of about 28 Chinese Americans in the Rock Springs massacre in Wyoming, and an estimated 50 African-American sugar-cane laborers in the 1887 Thibodaux massacre in Louisiana. The Knights strongly supported the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Contract Labor Law of 1885, as did many other labor groups, although the group did accept most others, including skilled and unskilled women of any profession.
The Knights of Labor attracted many Catholics, who were a large part of the membership, perhaps a majority. Powderly was a Catholic. However, the Knights's use of secrecy, similar to the Masons, during its early years concerned many bishops. The Knights used secrecy to help prevent employers from firing members. After the Archbishop of Quebec condemned the Knights in 1884, twelve American archbishops voted 10 to 2 against doing likewise in the United States. Furthermore, Cardinals James Gibbons and John Ireland defended the Knights. Gibbons went to the Vatican to talk to the hierarchy.
Membership declined with the problems of an autocratic structure, mismanagement, and unsuccessful strikes. Disputes between the skilled trade unionists (also known as craft unionists) and the industrial unionists weakened the organization. The top leadership did not believe that strikes were an effective way to up the status of the working people, and failed to develop the infrastructure that was necessary to organize and coordinate the hundreds of strikes, walkouts, and job actions spontaneously erupting among the membership. The Knights failed in the highly visible Missouri Pacific strike in 1886.
The Haymarket Riot of May 1886 came during a strike by the Knights in Chicago, and although violence was not planned, the Knights were very badly tarnished nationwide with the image of violence and anarchy. They lost many craft unionists that year to the rival Railroad brotherhoods and the new American Federation of Labor, which had more conservative reputations. Efforts to run labor candidates proved a failure in numerous elections in 1886-89. By 1890, the Knights had declined to fewer than 100,000 members. At the same time, the organization gave political support to the People's Party. Terence Powderly was replaced as Grand Master Workman by James Sovereign in 1893. Two years later, members of the Socialist Labor Party left the Knights to found the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance as a Marxist rival. Membership was reduced to 17,000. In 1895, the Knights of Labor fought two NYS National Guard Brigades in the streets of Brooklyn, while the "Trolley Strike" of 1895 raged from Jan 14 - Feb 28 1895. During that time, the City of Brooklyn, NY was placed under Martial Law. A Special Committee Of The State Assembly was appointed "To Investigate The Causes Of The Strike Of The Surface Railroads In The City Of Brooklyn", April,1895 pp 3–6. The majority of New York City's District Assembly 49 joined the Industrial Workers of the World at its 1905 foundation. Although by 1900, it was virtually nonexistent as a labor union, the Knights maintained a central office until 1917 and held conventions until 1932. At least a few local assemblies lasted until 1949.
The Order was brought to Australia around 1890. The Freedom Assembly, which operated in Sydney during the tumultuous period of 1891-93, had as members well-known Australian labor movement people such as William Lane, Ernie Lane, WG Spence, Arthur Rae and George Black. A similar assembly operated in Melbourne.
Though often overlooked, the Knights of Labor contributed to the tradition of labor protest songs in America. The Knights frequently included music in their regular meetings, and encouraged local members to write and perform their work. In Chicago, James and Emily Talmadge, printers and supporters of the Knights of Labor, published the songbook "Labor Songs Dedicated to the Knights of Labor" (1886). The song "Hold the Fort" [also "Storm the Fort"], a Knights of Labor pro-labor revision of the hymn by the same name, became the most popular labor song prior to Ralph Chaplin's IWW anthem "Solidarity Forever". Pete Seeger often performed this song and it appears on a number of his recordings. Songwriter and labor singer Bucky Halker includes the Talmadge version, entitled "Labor's Battle Song," on his CD Don't Want Your Millions (Revolting Records 2000). Halker also draws heavily on the Knights songs and poems in his book on labor song and poetry, For Democracy, Workers and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-1895 (University of Illinois Press, 1991).
The first modern Farmer–Labor Party in the United States emerged in Minnesota in 1918. Economic dislocation caused by American entry into World War I put agricultural prices and workers' wages into imbalance with rapidly escalating retail prices during the war years, and farmers and workers sought to make common cause in the political sphere to redress their grievances.
One primary contributing stream to the Farmer–Labor movement was the Labor Party movement. An International Association of Machinists strike in Bridgeport developed into a Labor Party in five Connecticut towns in the summer of 1918 and the powerful Chicago Federation of Labor (led by President John Fitzpatrick and Secretary-Treasurer Edward Nockles) adopted the cause of a Labor Party in the fall of that same year. Similar independent Labor Party movements emerged in New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, and North Dakota. These state and local organizations joined together in November 1919 in Chicago to form the Labor Party of the United States.
One important gathering that was a precursor to the establishment of a national Farmer–Labor Party was the Cooperative Congress, held in Chicago on February 12, 1920. The gathering included participants from the cooperative movement, farmers organizations, trade unions, and the Plumb Plan League. The congress elected a 12 person All-American Farmer–Labor Cooperative Commission. The event was closely reported in the pages of The Liberator by Robert Minor.
In July 1920, the Labor Party of the United States changed its name to the Farmer–Labor Party. It nominated Utah lawyer Parley P. Christensen for President of the United States. Christensen finished particularly strongly in Washington, netting over 77,000 votes in that state alone. In total, Christensen received over 265,000 votes from voters of the 19 states in which the Farmer–Labor Party was on the ballot. Also during the 1920 election, the Farmer-Labor Party candidate for the United States Senate in Washington state, C. L. France received 25% of the vote, coming in second place. This was the best performance by the Farmer-Labor Party in a state election outside Minnesota, which would soon become its main stronghold. The party's candidate for Governor of New York was Dudley Field Malone, a former Democratic Collector of the Port of New York, who achieved 69,908 votes in the state election, versus 159,804 for the Socialist candidate Joseph D. Cannon. However Rose Schneiderman, the party's candidate for U.S. Senator from New York only received 15,086 votes versus 151,246 for Socialist Jacob Panken.
In November 1921, as part of a lengthy world tour, Parley Parker Christensen obtained two interviews with Lenin in Moscow. The official organ of the Farmer–Labor Party was a newspaper published in Chicago called The New Majority. Editor of this paper was Robert Buck, a Fitzpatrick-Nockles loyalist.
The 1922 Convention of the Farmer–Labor Party was attended by 72 delegates, representing organizations in 17 states. Victor Berger, Seymour Stedman, and Otto Branstetter attended the proceedings as fraternal delegates of the Socialist Party of America. The convention decided to transform the FLP organization into a federated body of labor organizations on the model of the British Labour Party.
The Farmer–Labor Party sent delegates to the second conference of the Conference for Progressive Political Action, which met December 11–12, 1922, in Cleveland. The conference defeated a motion to establish an independent political party by a vote of 52–64, with the Socialist and Farmer–Labor Party delegations on the short side. At the close of the conference, the Farmer–Labor Party delegation announced that they would no longer affiliate with the CPPA.
In March 1923, the Farmer–Labor Party of Chicago broke away from the CPPA and decided to proceed to the immediate formation of a national Farmer–Labor political organization. Circa May, over the signature of J.G. Brown of the Farmer–Labor Party of the United States there was issued a call for a "Monster Political Convention of the Workers of America" to meet in Chicago on July 3. The convention call was issued to trade unions, state Farmer–Labor Parties, the Non-Partisan League, the Socialist Party, and the Workers Party, The FLP was frustrated with the timidity of the CPPA and the refusal of that organization to enter into independent electoral politics and sought to establish a national organization through other means. The Workers Party was anxious to participate in the FLP Convention as part of their United Front strategy. The Socialist Party on the other hand, was extremely hesitant. The SPA carefully considered this matter at its May 19–23, 1923, New York Convention before declining to participate in the FLP Convention, instead seeing the CPPA as the vehicle for a new Labor Party.
In the middle of June 1923, a subcommittee of the Central Executive Committee of the Workers Party of America met with a sub-committee of the Farmer–Labor Party. These two small groups agreed that if sufficient workers should be represented by delegates to the July 3 Conference, the Farmer–Labor Party should be supplanted by a Federated Farmer–Labor Party, and the National Committee of the Farmer–Labor Party replaced by a new National Executive Committee. The number of organizational members sending delegates necessary for the critical mass necessary to trigger this transformation was agreed by the two subcommittees to be 500,000. It was also agreed that the July 3 Conference should pass a general statement of principles and a resolution calling for the recognition of Soviet Union. If the 500,000 threshold was not achieved, an Organization Committee for the new federated FLP would instead be established.
The July 1923 Conference of the FLP was attended by approximately 540 delegates. The Workers Party seems to have made every effort to capture a majority at the gathering. At the convention itself, it used a disciplined caucus system, with groups of ten on the floor led by a group captain. The Workers Party delegates to the July 3 Conference were guided by a steering committee of the Central Executive Committee. During debate on the organization plan at the conference, C.E. Ruthenberg made a speech in which he asked the Farmer–Labor Party delegates what they wanted, stating that any concessions would be agreed to save the sacrifice of a federated Farmer–Labor Party itself. Five out of seven seats on the National Executive Committee of the new organization were offered to the Farmer–Labor Party. In response, the convention was adjourned and the Farmer–Labor Party delegates went into a closed caucus. This caucus returned with a resolution proposing to exclude the Workers Party from the conference and to ask the conference to accept the 1921 program and constitution of the Farmer–Labor Party without changes. This proposal was made on the floor of the conference by John Fitzpatrick of the Chicago Federation of Labor, who stated that "it would be suicide" to unite "with any organization which advocated other than lawful means to bring about a political change." This resolution was tabled by a vote of approximately 500–40, prompting a walkout by John Fitzpatrick and a group of delegates sharing his views.
The Workers Party gained a majority for its program and established a "Federated Farmer–Labor Party" at this convention. Structural iron worker Joseph Manley, a son-in-law of William Z. Foster although a factional loyalist to John Pepper, was elected as National Secretary of the organization. The WPA's Chicago labor paper, The Voice of Labor, was turned over to the FFLP and became its official organ, The Farmer–Labor Voice.
The notion of a "Federated Farmer–Labor Party" closely paralleled the organizational ideal for a third party then currently being advanced, the Socialist Party—an organization modelled upon the British Labour Party to which political organizations (like the WPA and the SPA) might affiliate without losing their independent organizational identity. The Socialist Party sought the establishment of an American "Labor Party" via the CPPA—and failed. The Workers Party successfully "captured" the Farmer–Labor Party organization, only to lose the allegiance of the mass organizations that they with which they so eagerly desired to unite.
A Conference of the Farmer–Labor Party was held in St. Paul on March 11–12, 1924, at which it was decided to hold its next National Convention on June 17 in that same city. A convention call was issued for that gathering, which called for farmer, labor, and political organizations to send delegates provided that they subscribed to a five point "tentative program" that called for public ownership, government banking, public control of all natural resources, restoration of civil liberties, and the abolition of the use of the injunction in labor disputes.
An effort was made by some members of the Farmer–Labor Party of the United States to merge the convention of the FLP with that of the Conference for Progressive Political Action, an attempt which was unsuccessful. This group also attempted to remove all national political parties from the convention call—the intended effect being to exclude the Workers (Communist) Party from participation. This effort failed as well.
There was pressure placed on the Farmer–Labor Party to purge itself of Communists and to postpone its next convention until July 4, 1924, so that it might meet jointly with that of the Conference for Progressive Political Action. On March 18, 1924, National Secretary Jay G. Brown wrote to the National Committee asking for a vote on the question of holding a convention on July 4 at Cleveland. This convention was not called. Brown resigned as National Secretary, to be replaced on a temporary basis by Robert M. Buck, who soon resigned as well. National Chairman W.M. Piggott then appointed Bert Martin as National Secretary and headquarters were moved from Chicago to Denver.
The June 1924 Convention of the Farmer–Labor Party (in which the Federated Farmer–Labor Party participated as a member organization) was attended by over 500 delegates representing 26 states. The convention discussed the upcoming run of Sen. Robert LaFollette, Sr. for President. LaFollette, a bitter opponent of the Workers Party of America, did not seek the endorsement of the convention, which proceeded to nominate its own candidates for President and Vice President of the United States—Duncan McDonald and William Bouck, respectively. The National Committee of the FLP met in Cleveland on July 4 and elected delegates to the Conference for Progressive Political Action. W.M. Piggott of Utah was re-elected as National Chairman and Bert Martin of Denver as National Secretary. On July 10, 1924, after the endorsement of LaFollette by the CPPA at Cleveland, a majority of the National Executive Committee withdrew the nominations of MacDonald and Bouck and pledged support to an independent campaign of the Workers Party. By the end of 1924, the Federated FLP had ceased to exist.
The demise of the Federated Farmer–Labor Party did not mean an end to the Farmer–Labor Party movement, however. The regular Farmer–Labor Party continued to exist at the state level, with state and local organizations in Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri, Washington, the Dakotas, and elsewhere. The national organization continued under the leadership of National Chairman W.M. Piggott and National Secretary Bert Miller. The group's 1920 Presidential candidate, Parley Parker Christensen, attended the Dec. 12, 1924, meeting of the National Committee of the Conference for Progressive Political Action and was made a member of the committee of arrangements for the CPPA's forthcoming February 21–22, 1925, conference. A Convention of the loyal members of the Farmer–Labor Party was called for that same time and place, where it aimed to cooperate with the CPPA in the formation of a labor party.
There were subsequent attempts to reconstitute a Farmer–Labor Party into the 1930s, without the participation of either the CPUSA or the Socialist Party. Frank Webb was the remnant party's candidate in 1928. For the 1932 Presidential election, Jacob Coxey campaigned as the Farmer–Labor Party candidate in a few states. In neither election did the party receive more than 8,000 votes. The Farmer–Labor Party continued to exist as a successful state party in Minnesota until 1944, when it merged with the Democratic Party of that state to form the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL).
Folksinger and Farmer-Labor supporter Jim Garland wrote the song "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister," in which he sings, "Take the two old parties, mister,/No difference in them I can see./But with a Farmer-Labor party,/We will set the workers free."
Woody Guthrie wrote the song "Farmer-Labor Train".
The National Labor Union (NLU) was the first national labor federation in the United States. Founded in 1866 and dissolved in 1873, it paved the way for other organizations, such as the Knights of Labor and the AFL (American Federation of Labor). It was led by William H. Sylvis. The National Labor Union followed the unsuccessful efforts of labor activists to form a national coalition of local trade unions. The National Labor Union sought instead to bring together all of the national labor organizations in existence, as well as the "eight-hour leagues" established to press for the eight-hour day, to create a national federation that could press for labor reforms and help found national cherokee union in those areas where none existed. The new organization favored arbitration over strikes and called for the creation of a national labor party as an alternative to the two existing parties.
The NLU drew much of its support from construction unions and other groups of skilled employees, but also invited the unskilled and farmers to join. On the other hand, it campaigned for the exclusion of Chinese workers from the United States and made only halting, ineffective efforts to defend the rights of women and blacks. African-American workers established their own Colored National Labor Union as an adjunct, but their support of the Republican Party and the prevalent racism of the citizens of the United States limited its effectiveness.
The NLU achieved an early success, but one that proved less significant in practice. In 1868, Congress passed the statute for which the Union had campaigned so hard, providing the eight-hour day for government workers. Many government agencies, however, reduced wages at the same time that they reduced hours. While President Grant ordered federal departments not to reduce wages, his order was ignored by many. The NLU also obtained similar legislation in a number of states, such as New York and California, but discovered that loopholes in the statute made them unenforceable or ineffective.
Early in 1869, the Chicago Tribune boasted 800,000 members, however Sylvis himself put the figure at 600,000 although both of these figures were greatly exaggerated. It collapsed when it adopted the policy that electoral politics, with a particular emphasis on monetary reform][, were the only means for advancing its agenda. The organization was spectacularly unsuccessful at the polls and lost virtually all of its union supporters, many of whom moved on to the newly formed Knights of Labor. The depression of the 1870s, which drove down union membership generally, was the final factor contributing to the end of the NLU.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in Columbus, Ohio in May 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers of the Cigar Makers' International Union was elected president of the Federation at its founding convention and was reelected every year except one until his death in 1924. The AFL was the largest union grouping in the United States for the first half of the 20th century, even after the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) by unions that were expelled by the AFL in 1935 over its opposition to industrial unionism. While the Federation was founded and dominated by craft unions throughout the first fifty years of its existence, many of its craft union affiliates turned to organizing on an industrial union basis to meet the challenge from the CIO in the 1940s.
In 1955, the AFL merged with its longtime rival, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, to form the AFL-CIO, a federation which remains in place to this day. Together with its offspring, the AFL has comprised the longest lasting and most influential labor federation in the United States.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) organized as an association of trade unions in 1886. The organization emerged out of a dispute with the Knights of Labor (K of L) organization, in which the leadership of that organization solicited locals of various craft unions to withdraw from their International organizations and to affiliate with the K of L directly, action which would have taken funds from the various unions and enriched the K of L's coffers.
One of the organizations embroiled in this controversy was the Cigar Makers' International Union (CMIU), a group subject to competition from a dual union, a rival "Progressive Cigarmakers' Union," organized by members suspended or expelled by the CMIU. The two cigar unions competed with one another in signing contracts with various cigar manufacturers, who were at this same time combining themselves into manufacturers' associations of their own in New York City, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Milwaukee.
In January 1886, the Cigar Manufacturers' Association of New York City attempted to flex its muscle by announcing a 20 percent wage cut in factories around the city. The Cigar Makers' International Union refused to accept the cut and 6,000 of its members in 19 factories were locked out by the owners. A strike lasting four weeks ensued. Just when it appeared that the strike might be won, the New York District Assembly of the Knights of Labor leaped into the breach, offering to settle with the 19 factories at a lower wage scale than that proposed by the CMIU, so long as only the Progressive Cigarmakers' Union was employed.
The leadership of the CMIU was enraged and demanded that the New York District Assembly be investigated and punished by the national officials of the K of L. The committee of investigation was controlled by individuals friendly to the New York District Assembly, however, and the latter was exonerated. The American Federation of Labor was thus originally formed as an alliance of craft unions outside the Knights of Labor as a means of defending themselves against this and similar incursions.
On April 25, 1886, a circular letter was issued by Strasser of the Cigar Makers and P.J. McGuire of the Carpenters, addressed to all national trade unions and calling for their attendance of a conference in Philadelphia on May 18. The call stated that an element of the Knights of Labor was doing "malicious work" and causing "incalculable mischief by arousing antagonisms and dissensions in the labor movement." The call was signed by Strasser and McGuire, along with representatives of the Granite Cutters, the Iron Molders, and the secretary of the Federation of Trades of North America, a forerunner of the AFL founded in 1881.
Forty-three invitations were mailed, which drew the attendance of 20 delegates and letters of approval from 12 other unions. At this preliminary gathering, held in Donaldson Hall on the corner of Broad and Filbert Streets, the K of L was charged with conspiring with anti-union bosses to provide labor at below going union rates and with making use of individuals who had crossed picket lines or defaulted on payment of union dues. The body authored a "treaty" to be presented to the forthcoming May 24, 1886, convention of the Knights of Labor, which demanded that the K of L cease attempting to organize members of International Unions into its own assemblies without permission of the unions involved and that K of L organizers violating this provision should suffer immediate suspension.
For its part, the Knights of Labor considered the demand for the parcelling of the labor movement into narrow craft-based fiefdoms to be anathema, a violation of the principle of solidarity of all workers across craft lines. Negotiations with the dissident craft unions were nipped in the bud by the governing General Assembly of the K of L, however, with the organization's Grand Master Workman, Terence V. Powderly, refusing to enter into serious discussions on the matter. The actions of the New York District Assembly of the K of L was upheld.
Convinced that no accommodation with the leadership of the Knights of Labor was possible, the heads of the five labor organizations which issued the call for the April 1886 conference issued a new call for a convention to be held December 8, 1886 in Columbus, Ohio in order to construct "an American federation of alliance of all national and international trade unions." Forty-two delegates representing 13 national unions and various other local labor organizations responded to the call, agreeing to form themselves into an American Federation of Labor.
Revenue for the new organization was to be raised on the basis of a "per-capita tax" of its member organizations, set at the rate of one-half cent per member per month (i.e. six cents per year). Governance of the organization was to be by annual conventions, with one delegate allocated for every 4,000 members of each affiliated union. The founding convention voted to make the President of the new federation a full-time official at a salary of $1,000 per year, and Samuel Gompers of the Cigar Makers' International Union was elected to the position. Gompers would ultimately be re-elected to the position by annual conventions of the organization for every year save one until his death nearly four decades later.
Although the founding convention of the AFL had authorized the establishment of a publication for the new organization, Gompers made use of the existing labor press to generate support for the position of the craft unions against the Knights of Labor. Powerful opinion-makers of the American labor movement such as the Philadelphia Tocsin, Haverhill Labor, the Brooklyn Labor Press, and the Denver Labor Enquirer granted Gompers space in their pages, in which he made the case for the unions against the attacks of employers, "all too often aided by the K of L."
Headway was made in the form of endorsement by various local labor bodies. Some assemblies of the K of L supported the Cigar Makers' position and departed the organization: in Baltimore, 30 locals left the organization, while the membership of the Knights in Chicago fell from 25,000 in 1886 to just 3,500 in 1887. Factional warfare broke out in the K of L, with Terence Powderly blaming the organization's travails on "radicals" in its ranks, while those opposing Powderly called for an end to what they perceived as "autocratic leadership."
In the face of the steady disintegration of its rival, the fledgling American Federation of Labor struggled to maintain itself, with the group showing very slow and incremental growth in its first years, only cracking the 250,000 member mark in 1892. The group from the outset concentrated upon the income and working conditions of its membership as its almost sole focus. The AFL's founding convention declaring "higher wages and a shorter workday" to be "preliminary steps toward great and accompanying improvements in the condition of the working people." Participation in partisan politics was avoided as inherently divisive, and the group's constitution was structured to prevent the admission of political parties as affiliates.
This fundamentally conservative "pure and simple" approach limited the AFL to matters pertaining to working conditions and rates of pay, relegating political goals to its allies in the political sphere. The Federation favored pursuit of workers' immediate demands rather than challenging the property rights of owners, and took a pragmatic view of politics which favored tactical support for particular politicians over formation of a party devoted to workers' interests. The AFL's leadership believed the expansion of the capitalist system was seen as the path to betterment of labor, an orientation making it possible for the AFL to present itself as what one historian has called "the conservative alternative to working class radicalism."
The AFL faced its first major reversal when employers launched an open shop movement in 1903 designed to drive unions out of construction, mining, longshore and other industries. Membership in the AFL's affiliated unions declined between 1904 and 1914 in the face of this concerted anti-union drive, which made effective use of legal injunctions against strikes, court rulings given force when backed with the armed might of the state.][
Ever the pragmatist, Gompers argued that labor should "reward its friends and punish its enemies" in both major parties. However, in the 1900s (decade), the two parties began to realign, with the main faction of the Republican Party coming to identify with the interests of banks and manufacturers, while a substantial portion of the rival Democratic Party took a more labor-friendly position. While not precluding its members from belonging to the Socialist Party or working with its members, the AFL traditionally refused to pursue the tactic of independent political action by the workers in the form of the existing Socialist Party or the establishment of a new labor party. After 1908, the organization's tie to the Democratic party grew increasingly strong.][
Some unions within the AFL helped form and participated in the National Civic Federation. The National Civic Federation was formed by several progressive employers who sought to avoid labor disputes by fostering collective bargaining and "responsible" unionism. Labor's participation in this federation, at first tentative, created internal division within the AFL. Socialists, who believed the only way to help workers was to remove large industry from private ownership, denounced labor's efforts at cooperation with the capitalists in the National Civic Federation. The AFL nonetheless continued its association with the group, which declined in importance as the decade of the 1910s drew to a close.][
By the 1890s, Gompers was planning an international federation of labor, starting with the expansion of AFL affiliates in Canada, especially Ontario. He helped the Canadian Trades and Labour Congress with money and organizers, and by 1902, the AFL came to dominate the Canadian union movement.
The AFL vigorously opposed unrestricted immigration from Europe for moral, cultural, and racial reasons. The issue unified the workers who feared that an influx of new workers would flood the labor market and lower wages. Nativism was not a factor because upwards of half the union members were themselves immigrants or the sons of immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Britain. Nativism was a factor when the AFL even more strenuously opposed all immigration from Asia because it represented (to its Euro-American members) an alien culture that could not be assimilated into American society. The AFL intensified its opposition after 1906 and was instrumental in passing immigration restriction bills from the 1890s to the 1920s, such as the 1921 Emergency Quota Act and the Immigration Act of 1924, and seeing that they were strictly enforced.
Mink (1986) concludes that the link between the AFL and the Democratic Party rested in part on immigration issues, noting the large corporations, which supported the Republicans, wanted more immigration to augment their labor force.
The AFL reached a zenith of sorts during the administration of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Particularly during the years of World War I, American unions were given considerable government protection and cooperation between capital and labor was actively sought as the best means of rationalizing and increasing American production on behalf of the war effort. Unions, including the AFL itself, welcomed governmental intervention in favor of collective bargaining during World War I. Unions in the packinghouse industry were able to form due to governmental pressure on the largest employers to recognize the unions rather than face a strike. Expansion of the organized labor movement followed and by 1920 the AFL had nearly 4 million members.][
During World War I, the AFL - motivated by fear of government repression, and hope of aid (often in the form of pro-AFL labor policies) - had worked out an informal agreement with the United States government, in which the AFL would coordinate with the government both to support the war effort and to join "into an alliance to crush radical labor groups" such as the Industrial Workers of the World and Socialist Party of America.
In the pro-business environment of the 1920s, business launched a large-scale offensive on behalf of the so-called "open shop", which meant that a person did not have to be a union member to be hired. AFL unions lost membership steadily until 1933.
The organization endorsed pro-labor progressive Robert M. LaFollette in the 1924 presidential election. He only carried his home state of Wisconsin. The campaign failed to establish a permanent independent party closely connected to the labor movement, however, and thereafter the Federation embraced ever more closely the Democratic Party, despite the fact that many union leaders remained Republicans. Herbert Hoover in 1928 won the votes of many Protestant AFL members.
The Great Depression were hard times for the unions, and membership fell sharply across the country. As the national economy began to recover in 1933, so did union membership. The New Deal of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, strongly favored labor unions. He made sure that relief operations like the Civilian Conservation Corps did not include a training component that would produced skilled workers who would compete with union members in a still glutted market. The major legislation was the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, called the Wagner Act. It greatly strengthened organized unions, especially by weakening the company unions that many workers belonged to. It was to the members advantage to transform a company union into a local of an AFL union, and thousands did so, dramatically boosting the membership. The Wagner Act also set up to the National Labor Relations Board, which used its powers to rule in favor of unions and against the companies. However, the NLRB was later taken over by leftist elements who favored the CIO over the AFL.][
The AFL — now led by William Green (president, 1924–1952) — faced increasing dissension within its ranks, led by John L. Lewis of the coal miners. Lewis argued that the AFL was too heavily oriented toward traditional craftsmen, and was overlooking the opportunity to organize millions of semiskilled workers, especially those in industrial factories that made automobiles, rubber, glass and steel. In 1935 Lewis led the dissenting unions in forming a new Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) within the AFL. Both the new CIO industrial unions, and the older AFL crafts unions grew rapidly after 1935. In 1936 union members enthusiastically supported Roosevelt's landslide reelection. Proposals for the creation of an independent labor party were rejected.
Unions now comprised a major component of the New Deal Coalition, along with big-city machines, Catholics and Jews, poorer farmers, and the white South. The AFL continued to concentrate its legislative efforts on obtaining political protection for the right of unions to organize and strike, rather than on obtaining social change through legislative action.][
The AFL retained close ties to the Democratic machines in big cities through the 1940s. Its membership surged during the war and it held on to most of its new members after wartime legal support for labor was removed. Despite its close connections to many in Congress, the AFL was not able to block the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.][
In 1955, the AFL and CIO merged to form the AFL-CIO, headed by George Meany][.
During its first years, the AFL admitted nearly anyone. Gompers opened the AFL to radical and socialist workers and to some semiskilled and unskilled workers. Women, African Americans, and immigrants joined in small numbers. But by the 1890s, the Federation had begun to organize only skilled workers in craft unions and became an organization of mostly white men. Although the Federation preached a policy of egalitarianism in regard to African American workers, it actively discriminated against black workers. The AFL sanctioned the maintenance of segregated locals within its affiliates — particularly in the construction and railroad industries — a practice which often excluded black workers altogether from union membership and thus from employment in organized industries.
In 1901, the AFL lobbied Congress to reauthorize the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and issued a pamphlet entitled "Some reasons for Chinese exclusion. Which shall survive?" The AFL also began one of the first organized labor boycotts when they began putting white stickers on the cigars made by unionized white cigar rollers while simultaneously discouraging consumers from purchasing cigars rolled by Chinese workers.
In most ways, the AFL’s treatment of women workers paralleled its policy towards black workers. The AFL never adopted a strict policy of gender exclusion and, at times, even came out in favor of women’s unionism. But despite such rhetoric, the Federation only half-heartedly supported women’s attempts to organize and, more often, took pains to keep women out of unions and the workforce altogether. Only two national unions affiliated with the AFL at its founding openly included women, and others passed by-laws barring women’s membership entirely. The AFL hired its first female organizer, Mary Kenney O'Sullivan, only in 1892, released her after five months, and it did not replace her or hire another woman national organizer until 1908. Women who organized their own unions were often turned down in bids to join the Federation, and even women who did join unions found them hostile or intentionally inaccessible. AFL unions often held meetings at night or in bars when women might find it difficult to attend and where they might feel uncomfortable, and male unionists heckled women who tried to speak at meetings.
Generally the AFL viewed women workers as competition, as strikebreakers, or as an unskilled labor reserve that kept wages low. As such, the Federation often opposed women’s employment entirely. When it did organize women workers, most often it did so to protect men’s jobs and earning power and not to improve the conditions, lives, or wages of women workers. In response, most women workers remained outside the labor movement. In 1900, only 3.3% of working women were organized into unions. In 1910, even as the AFL surged forward in membership, the number had dipped to 1.5%. And while it improved to 6.6% over the next decade, women remained mostly outside of unions and practically invisible inside of them into the mid-1920s.
Attitudes gradually changed within the AFL due to the pressure of organized female workers. Female-domination began to emerge in the first two decades of the 20th century, including particularly the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. Women organized independent locals among New York hat makers, in the Chicago stockyards, and among Jewish and Italian waist makers, to name only three examples. Through the efforts of middle class reformers and activists, often of the Women's Trade Union League, these unions joined the AFL.
From the beginning, unions affiliated with the AFL found themselves in conflict when both unions claimed jurisdiction over the same groups of workers: both the Brewers and Teamsters claimed to represent beer truck drivers, both the Machinists and the International Typographical Union claimed to represent certain printroom employees, and the Machinists and a fledgling union known as the "Carriage, Wagon and Automobile Workers Union" sought to organize the same employees — even though neither union had made any effort to organize or bargain for those employees. In some cases the AFL mediated the dispute, usually favoring the larger or more influential union. The AFL often reversed its jurisdictional rulings over time, as the continuing jurisdictional battles between the Brewers and the Teamsters showed. In other cases the AFL expelled the offending union, as it did in 1913 in the case of the Carriage, Wagon and Automobile Workers Union (which quickly disappeared).][
These jurisdictional disputes were most frequent in the building trades, where a number of different unions might claim the right to have work assigned to their members. The craft unions in this industry organized their own department within the AFL in 1908, despite the reservations of Gompers and other leaders about creation of a separate body within the AFL that might function as a federation within a federation. While those fears were partly borne out in practice, as the Building Trades Department did acquire a great deal of practical power gained through resolving jurisdictional disputes between affiliates, the danger that it might serve as the basis for schism never materialized.][
Affiliates within the AFL formed "departments" to help resolve these jurisdictional conflicts and to provide a more effective voice for member unions in given industries. The Metal Trades Department engaged in some organizing of its own, primarily in shipbuilding, where unions such as the Pipefitters, Machinists and Iron Workers joined together through local metal workers' councils to represent a diverse group of workers. The Railway Employees Department dealt with both jurisdictional disputes between affiliates and pursued a common legislative agenda for all of them. Even that sort of structure did not prevent AFL unions from finding themselves in conflict on political issues. For example, the International Seamen's Union opposed passage of a law applying to workers engaged in interstate transport that railway unions supported. The AFL bridged these differences on an ad hoc basis.][
The AFL made efforts in its early years to assist its affiliates in organizing: it advanced funds or provided organizers or, in some cases, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Teamsters and the American Federation of Musicians, helped form the union. The AFL also used its influence (including refusal of charters or expulsion) to heal splits within affiliated unions, to force separate unions seeking to represent the same or closely related jurisdictions to merge, or to mediate disputes between rival factions where both sides claimed to represent the leadership of an affiliated union. The AFL also chartered "federal unions" — local unions not affiliated with any international union — in those fields in which no affiliate claimed jurisdiction.][
The AFL also encouraged the formation of local labor bodies (known as central labor councils) in major metropolitan areas in which all of the affiliates could participate. These local labor councils acquired a great deal of influence in some cases. For example, the Chicago Federation of Labor spearheaded efforts to organize packinghouse and steel workers during and immediately after World War I. Local building trades councils also became powerful in some areas. In San Francisco, the local Building Trades Council, led by Carpenters official P. H. McCarthy, not only dominated the local labor council but helped elect McCarthy mayor of San Francisco in 1909. In a very few cases early in the AFL's history, state and local bodies defied AFL policy or chose to disaffiliate over policy disputes.][
Though Gompers had contact with socialists and such as AFL co-founder Peter J. McGuire, the AFL adopted a philosophy of "business unionism" that emphasized unions' contribution to businesses' profits and national economic growth. The business unionist approach also focused on skilled workers' immediate job-related interests, while ignoring larger political issues.][. This approach was set by Gompers, who was influenced by a fellow cigar maker (and former socialist) Ferdinand Laurrel. Despite his socialist contacts, Gompers himself was not a socialist.][
In some respects the AFL leadership took a pragmatic view toward politicians, following Gompers' slogan to "reward your friends and punish your enemies" without regard to party affiliation. Over time, after repeated disappointments with the failure of labor's legislative efforts to protect workers' rights, which the courts had struck down as unconstitutional, Gompers became almost anti-political, opposing some forms of protective legislation, such as limitations on working hours, because they would detract from the efforts of unions to obtain those same benefits through collective bargaining.][
Employers discovered the efficacy of labor injunctions, first used with great effect by the Cleveland administration during the Pullman strike in 1894. While the AFL sought to outlaw "yellow dog contracts," to limit the courts' power to impose "government by injunction" and to obtain exemption from the antitrust laws that were being used to criminalize labor organizing, the courts reversed what few legislative successes the labor movement won.][
The AFL concentrated its political efforts during the last decades of the Gompers administration on securing freedom from state control of unions — in particular an end to the court's use of labor injunctions to block the right to organize or strike and the application of the anti-trust laws to criminalize labor's use of pickets, boycotts and strikes. The AFL thought that it had achieved the latter with the passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act in 1914 — which Gompers referred to as "Labor's Magna Carta". But in Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U.S. 443 (1921), the United States Supreme Court narrowly read the Act and codified the federal courts' existing power to issue injunctions rather than limit it. The court read the phrase "between an employer and employees" (contained in the first paragraph of the Act) to refer only to cases involving an employer and its own employees, leaving the courts free to punish unions for engaging in sympathy strikes or secondary boycotts.][
The AFL's pessimistic attitude towards politics did not, on the other hand, prevent affiliated unions from pursuing their own agendas. Construction unions supported legislation that governed entry of contractors into the industry and protected workers' rights to pay, rail and mass production industries sought workplace safety legislation, and unions generally agitated for the passage of workers' compensation statutes.][
At the same time, the AFL took efforts on behalf of women in supporting protective legislation. It advocated fewer hours for women workers, and based its arguments on assumptions of female weakness. Like efforts to unionize, most support for protective legislation for women came out of a desire to protect men’s jobs. If women’s hours could be limited, reasoned AFL officials, they would infringe less on male employment and earning potential. But the AFL also took more selfless efforts. Even from the 1890s, the AFL declared itself vigorously in favor of women’s suffrage. It often printed pro-suffrage articles in its periodical, and in 1918, it supported the National Union of Women’s Suffrage.
The AFL relaxed its rigid stand against legislation after the death of Gompers. Even so, it remained cautious. Its proposals for unemployment benefits (made in the late 1920s) were too modest to have practical value, as the Great Depression soon showed. The impetus for the major federal labor laws of the 1930s came from the New Deal. The enormous growth in union membership came after Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 and National Labor Relations Act in 1935. The AFL refused to sanction or participate in the mass strikes led by John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers and other left unions such as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. After the AFL expelled the CIO in 1936, the CIO undertook a major organizing effort. The AFL responded with its own massive organizing drive that kept its membership totals 50 percent higher than the CIO's.][
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (abbreviated as FLSA; also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill) is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA introduced a maximum 44-hour seven-day workweek, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed "time-and-a-half" for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor", a term that is defined in the statute. It applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage.
The FLSA was originally drafted in 1932 by Senator Hugo Black, who was later appointed to the Supreme Court in 1937. However, Black's proposal to require employers to adopt a thirty-hour workweek met stiff resistance. In 1938 a revised version of Black's proposal was passed that adopted an eight-hour day and a forty-hour workweek and allowed workers to earn wage for an extra four hours of overtime as well. According to the act, workers must be paid minimum wage and overtime pay must be one-and-a-half times regular pay. Children under eighteen cannot do certain dangerous jobs, and children under the age of sixteen cannot work during school hours. There were 700,000 workers affected by the FLSA, and Roosevelt called it the most important piece of New Deal legislation passed since the Social Security Act of 1935.
In 1946 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. that preliminary work activities, where controlled by the employer and performed entirely for the employer's benefit, are properly included as working time under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The decision is known as the "portal-to-portal act". The 1947 Portal-to-Portal Act specified exactly what type of time was considered compensable work time. In general, as long as an employee is engaging in activities that benefit the employer, regardless of when they are performed, the employer has an obligation to pay the employee for his or her time. It also specified that travel to and from the workplace was a normal incident of employment and shouldn't be considered paid working time.
The full effect of the FLSA of 1938 was postponed by the wartime inflation of the 1940s, which lowered wage values to below the level specified in the Act. The October 26, 1949 Fair Labor Standards Amendment (ch. 736, Pub.L. 81–393, 63 Stat. 910, 29 U.S.C. § 201) included changes to overtime compensation, defined a "regular rate," redefined the term "produced," raised the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents per hour and extended child labor coverage. It also included a few new exemptions for special worker classes.
In 1955 the FLSA was amended once again to increase minimum wage, this time to one dollar per hour.
The 1961 FLSA Amendment added another method of determining a type of coverage called enterprise coverage. Enterprise coverage applies only when the business is involved in interstate commerce and its gross annual business volume is a minimum of $500,000. All employees working for these “enterprises” are then covered by the FLSA so long as the individual firms of the "enterprise have a revenue greater than $500,000 per year". Under the original 1938 Act, a worker whose work is in the channels of interstate commerce is covered as an individual. "Interstate commerce" is interpreted so broadly that a majority of work is included, such as ordering, loading, or using supplies from out of state, accepting payments from customers based on credit cards issued by out-of-state banks, and so on.
The 1961 Amendment also specified that coverage is automatic for schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or other residential care facilities. Coverage is also automatic for all governmental entities at whatever level of government, no matter how big or small. Coverage does not apply to certain entities that are not organized for a business purpose, such as churches and charitable institutions. The minimum wage level was again increased—this time to $1.25 per hour. What could be considered a wage was specifically defined, and entitlement to sue for back wages was granted.
The Contract Work Hours Standards Act, though not a direct amendment or modification to the FLSA, became law in 1962. It replaced the confusing and often ambiguous series of “Eight Hour Laws” (which date back to 1892) with a single, comprehensive law to govern hours of work for laborers.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to amend the FLSA and make it illegal to pay workers lower wages strictly on the basis on their sex. It is often summed up with the phrase “equal pay for equal work”. This was a major step towards closing the wage gap in women's pay. In the past, it had been generally accepted that women did not deserve to earn as much money as men because they were not heads of households. However, in many homes, women were in fact the sole breadwinner for various reasons, ranging from death or disability of a spouse to divorce or single parenthood. Regardless of roles in the family, the Equal Pay Act established a single standard to apply to both sexes. The Equal Pay Act allows for unequal pay for equal work only when wages are set pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or other factors outside of sex.
The 1966 FLSA Amendment expanded coverage to some farm workers and increased the minimum wage to $1.60 per hour in stages. This was in large part due to the efforts of labor leaders like Cesar Chavez who brought farm worker rights to national attention during this period. The 1966 FLSA amendment also gave state and local government employees coverage for the first time.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibited employment discrimination against persons forty years of age or older. Some older workers were being denied health benefits based on their age and denied training opportunities prior to the passage of the ADEA. This act applies only to businesses employing more than twenty workers.
The 1974 FLSA Amendment expanded coverage to include other state and local government employees that were not previously covered. Domestic workers also became covered and the minimum wage was increased to $2.30 per hour in stages.
The 1977 FLSA Amendment increased the minimum wage in yearly increments through 1981 to $3.35 an hour. Changes were made involving tipped employees and the tip credit. Partial overtime exemption was repealed in stages for certain hotel, motel, and restaurant employees.
The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), passed in 1983, was designed to provide migrant and seasonal farm workers with protections concerning pay, working conditions, and work-related conditions, to require farm labor contractors to register with the U.S. Department of Labor, and to assure necessary protections for farm workers, agricultural associations, and agricultural employers.
The amendment to the FLSA enacted in 1985 permitted state and local government employers to compensate their employees' overtime hours with paid time away from work (compensatory time or “comp time”) in lieu of overtime pay. It also included modifications to ensure that true volunteer activities were not impeded or discouraged.
The Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1986 repealed the eight-hour daily overtime requirements on all federal contracts.
The 1989 FLSA amendments increased the minimum wage to $4.25 per hour in stages. The distinction between retail and non-retail was eliminated. Construction and laundry or dry cleaning were no longer named as enterprises. Changes were again made to the tip credit system. A “training wage” was established at 85% of minimum wage for workers less than 20 years of age. This “training wage”, also referred to as a "youth minimum wage" or "subminimum wage", could be paid for up to 90 days under certain conditions.
The 1996 FLSA amendment increased the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour. However, the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (PL 104-188), which provided the minimum-wage increase, also detached tipped employees from future minimum-wage increases. Prior to 1996, tipped employees received 50% of the prevailing minimum wage. The tipped employee minimum wage was frozen, under federal law at least, at $2.13 per hour(29 U.S.C. § 203). State laws that grant higher hourly wages remain in force.
On August 23, 2004, controversial changes to the FLSA's overtime regulations went into effect, making substantial modifications to the definition of an "exempt" employee. Low-level working supervisors throughout American industries were reclassified as “executives” and lost overtime rights. These changes were sought by business interests and the Bush administration, which claimed that the laws needed clarification and that few workers would be affected. The Bush administration called the new regulations "FairPay". But other organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, claimed the changes would make millions of additional workers ineligible to obtain relief under the FLSA for overtime pay. Attempts in Congress to overturn the new regulations were unsuccessful.
Conversely, some low-level employees (particularly administrative-support staff) that had previously been classified as exempt were now reclassified as non-exempt. Although such employees work in positions bearing titles previously used to determine exempt status (such as "executive assistant"), the 2004 amendment to the FLSA now requires that an exemption must be predicated upon actual job function and not job title. Those employees with job titles that previously allowed exemption but whose job descriptions did not include managerial functions were now reclassified from exempt to non-exempt.
On May 25, 2007, President Bush signed into law a supplemental appropriation bill (H.R. 2206) which contains the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. This provision amended the FLSA to provide for the increase of the federal minimum wage by an incremental plan, culminating in a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour by July 24, 2009.
Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R.3590) amends Section 7 to add that employers shall provide break time for nursing mothers to express milk and that "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public" should be available for employees to express milk.
The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to "employees who are engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or who are employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce", unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage. Generally, an employer who does at least $500,000 of business or gross sales in a year satisfies the commerce requirements of the FLSA, and therefore that employer's workers will be subject to the FLSA's protections if none of the other exemptions apply. Several exemptions exist that relieve an employer from having to meet the statutory minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping requirements. The largest exceptions apply to the so-called "white collar" exemptions that are applicable to professional, administrative and executive employees. Exemptions are narrowly construed; an employer must prove that the employees fit "plainly and unmistakeably" within the exemption's terms.
The FLSA applies to "any individual employed by an employer" but not to independent contractors or volunteers because they are not considered "employees" under the FLSA. Still, an employer cannot simply exempt workers from the FLSA by calling them independent contractors, and many employers have illegally misclassified their workers as independent contractors. Some employers similarly mislabel employees as volunteers. Courts will look at the "economic reality" of the relationship between the putative employer and the worker to determine whether the worker is, in fact, an independent contractor. Courts use a similar test to determine whether a worker was concurrently employed by more than one person or entity; commonly referred to as "joint employers". For example, a farm worker may be considered jointly employed by a labor contractor (who is in charge of recruitment, transportation, payroll, and keeping track of hours) and a grower (who generally monitors the quality of the work performed, determines where to place workers, controls the volume of work available, has quality control requirements, and has the power to fire, discipline, or provide work instructions to workers).
Presuming an employee is not exempt from overtime, there are many instances in which overtime is not paid properly, including when an employee is not paid for travel time between job sites, activities before their shift starts or after it ends, and activities to prepare for work that are central to work activities. If an employee is entitled to overtime they must be paid one and a half times the employee's "regular rate of pay" for all hours worked over 40 in the same work week.
Employees who are employed in a ministerial role by a religiously affiliated employer are not entitled to overtime under the act.
Under the FLSA, an employer must pay each employee the minimum wage, unless the employee is "engaged in an occupation in which he or she customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips". If the employees wage does not equal minimum wage including tips the employer must make up the difference. However, the employee must be allowed to keep all of their tips, either individually or through a tip pool. Also, a tip pool may contain only "employees who customarily and regularly receive tips". "The phrase 'customarily and regularly' signifies a frequency which must be greater than occasional, but which may be less than constant."
While the nomenclature of a job title is not dispositive, the job of "busboy" is explicitly validated for tip-pool inclusion by an authoritative source. "A busboy performs an integral part of customer service without much direct interaction, but he does so in a manner visible to customers...Thus, for a service bartender to be validly included in a tip pool, she must meet this minimal threshold in a manner sufficient to incentivize customers to 'customarily and regularly' tip in recognition' of her services (though she need not receive the tips directly).
Labor relations is the study and practice of managing unionized employment situations. In academia, labor relations is frequently a subarea within industrial relations, though scholars from many disciplines--including economics, sociology, history, law, and political science--also study labor unions and labor movements. In practice, labor relations is frequently a subarea within human resource management. Courses in labor relations typically cover labor history, labor law, union organizing, bargaining, contract administration, and important contemporary topics.
In the United States, labor relations in the private sector is regulated by the National Labor Relations Act. Public sector labor relations is regulated by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and various pieces of state legislation. In other countries, labor relations might be regulated by law or tradition.
An important professional association for U.S. labor relations scholars and practitioners is the Labor and Employment Relations Association.
Harry Simms (December 25, 1911 - February 11, 1932), born Harry Simms Hersh, was a Jewish American labor leader from Springfield, Massachusetts. He was sent by the National Miners Union to Harlan County, Kentucky during the Harlan County War to organize the mine workers there.
On February 10, 1932, Simms was shot near Brush Creek in Knox County by a sheriff's deputy who also worked as a mine guard for the local coal company. Simms died of his wound at Barbourville Hospital the next day. He was memorialized in a ballad, "The Death of Harry Simms" by Aunt Molly Jackson and Jim Garland, and his funeral service at the Bronx Coliseum attracted a crowd of some 20,000 people.
Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to:
farming, forestry, and fishing: 0.7% manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts: 20% managerial, professional, and technical]disambiguation needed[: 37% sales and office: 24% other services: 18% (2009)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book Socialism
The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America, or simply the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, 16 territories, a federal district, and various overseas extraterritorial jurisdictions. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 316 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the US mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
Capital, Volume I (1867), by Karl Marx, is a critical analysis of capitalism as political economy, meant to reveal the economic laws of the capitalist mode of production, how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production, and of the class struggle rooted in the capitalist social relations of production. The first of three volumes of Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (Capital: Critique of Political Economy) was published on 14 September 1867, and was the sole volume published in Marx's lifetime. This volume is registered in the Memory of the World Programme of UNESCO together with manuscripts of The Communist Manifesto in June 2013.
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are a theoretical discussion of the commodity, value, exchange, and the genesis of money. As Marx writes, "Beginnings are always difficult in all sciences ... the section that contains the analysis of commodities, will therefore present the greatest difficulty." The modern reader is often perplexed about Marx going on about "one coat is equal to twenty yards of linen..". Professor John Kenneth Galbraith reminds us that "the purchase of a coat by an average citizen was an action comparable in modern times to the purchase of an automobile or even a house."
The Australian Labor Party (also ALP and Labor, was Labour before 1912) is an Australian political party. It is currently in opposition at federal level with Bill Shorten as the party's federal parliamentary leader. In the state and territory parliaments, Labor governs in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state (and sometimes local) level.
Labor's constitution states: "The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields." This "socialist objective" was introduced in 1921, but has always been heavily qualified by wording which makes it clear that Labor supports private property.]unreliable source?[ It has been a dead letter since the 1940s, when the Chifley government failed to nationalise the private banks. Today Labor defines itself as "a coalition that includes reformers, radicals, progressives and social democrats united by a critique of the inequalities in society, a commitment to a more just and equal society, and the achieving of this aim by democratic means."
Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are terms that cover work in philosophy that is strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory or that is written by Marxists. It may be broadly divided into Western Marxism, which drew out of various sources, and the official philosophy in the Soviet Union, which enforced a rigid reading of Marx called dialectical materialism, in particular during the 1930s.
The phrase "Marxist philosophy" itself does not indicate a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as varied as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theoretical psychology and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international industrial union that was formed in 1905. The origin of the nickname "Wobblies" is uncertain.
The IWW promotes the concept of "One Big Union", contends that all workers should be united as a social class and that capitalism and wage labor should be abolished. They are known for the Wobbly Shop model of workplace democracy, in which workers elect their managers and other forms of grassroots democracy (self-management) are implemented. IWW membership does not require that one work in a represented workplace, nor does it exclude membership in another labor union.
Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored. Social Issues