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Labor History Timeline

Repression and the Depression

1920   19th Amendment to the Constitution gives women the right to vote
1923   In Adkins v. Children’s Hospital the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a law passed by Congress that set a minimum wage for women violated due process to contract freely. This decision would be overruled in 1937 in West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish .
1924 Pawtucket Textile Mills Strike
1925 A. Philip Randolph helps create the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
1926   Railway Labor Act sets up procedures to settle railway labor disputes and forbids discrimination against union members
1929   Stock market crashes as stocks fall 40 percent—the Great Depression begins
1931   Davis-Bacon Act provides for prevailing wages on publicly funded construction projects
1932   Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibits federal injunctions in most labor disputes
1933   President Franklin Roosevelt proposes New Deal programs to Congress including the National Industry Recovery Act

Democratizing America

1934   Upsurge in strikes, including national textile strike, which fails
1935   National Labor Relations Act and Social Security Act passed;
    Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) formed within AFL;
    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States that the National Industry Recovery Act of 1933 was an unconstitutional exercise of presidential powers
1936   AFL and CIO create labor's Non-Partisan League and help President Roosevelt win re-election to a second term;
    The Anti-strikebreaker Law and Walsh-Healy Act are enacted
1937   Auto Workers win sit-down strike against General Motors in Flint, Mich.;
    Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters wins contract with Pullman Co.;
  In National Labor Relations Board v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. , the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the NLRB Act (also called the Wagner Act) to be constitutional. The decision affirmed congressional power to regulate labor relations;
    The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled, in West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish , that Washington state’s law setting a minimum wage for women to be constitutional because the state has a special interest in protecting the health of women and their ability to support themselves. The decision overruled Adkins v. Children’s Hospital .
1938   Fair Labor Standards Act establishes first minimum wage and 40-hour week;
    Congress of industrial Organizations forms as an independent federation;
  San Antonio Pecan Shellers Strike
1939   The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that union organizers have a right to hold public meetings and disseminate literature in Hague v. Congress of Industrial Organizations
1940   In Thornhill v. State of Alabama the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Alabama legislation prohibiting picketing to be unconstitutional
1941 A. Philip Randolph threatens to march on Washington to protest racial discrimination in defense jobs;
    U.S. troops enter combat in World War II;
    National War Labor Board created with union members;
    In United States v. Darby Lumber Company , the U.S. Supreme Court rules the Fair labor Standards Act of 1938 to be constitutional, which overruled Hammer v. Dagenhart
1943   CIO forms first political action committee to get out the union vote for President Roosevelt

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