Today in Labor History . . .

888131 years ago in Chicago, four striking workers were killed when police attacked a demonstration at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co.   Organized workers were protesting for an 8-hour work day.  Later that night and into the next day, thousands of people would take to the streets in response to the actions of the police.  What would follow would become known as the Haymarket Square Massacre.

The labor movement has pushed forward the progress for workers’ rights in this country since its early beginnings in the 19th century.  In the early industrial factories, workers were commonly forced to work 12-18 hour days in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.  The 8-hour day movement was one of the first large-scale, sustained fights that the labor movement would win over the course of the years. 

Labor organizations would fight for “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will” for decades.  Progress was won incrementally for many workers, until the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which legislated the 40-hour work week, overtime pay for certain jobs and a national minimum wage, among other victories. 

Today, in 2017 we face the threat of a reversal of many of the victories the labor movement has won. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and our affiliate unions continue to work for the working people of the Commonwealth.  We need you to stand with us when the state General Assembly attacks workers’ rights to organize and be safe on the job. You can help us fight back for workers, by signing the petition, writing your representative, and making calls to your legislators.  Join us.