Throwback Thursday – The Federation of Trades and Labor Unions

FOTLU Founding_Nov 15The Federation of Trades and Labor Unions was founded in Pittsburgh on November 15, 1881.  Five years later, the FOTLU would become the American Federation of Labor.  On this day 137 years ago, 107 delegates from national unions, city labor federations, craft unions and representatives of the Knights of Labor came together at Turner Hall.

The FOTLU supported a platform or worker issues that would remain central to our Labor movement for decades to come: shorter working hours, higher wages, child labor laws, apprenticeship laws, and the abolition of labor exploitation.  The FOTLU called for the first Labor Day celebration on the first Monday in September the following year.

The FOTLU started out with an ambitious legislative agenda but lost its momentum as membership of the Knights of Labor surged.  The relationship between the FOTLU and the Knights of Labor remained became increasingly contentious.  In December of 1886, the FOTLU dissolved itself and reassembled as the American Federation of Labor, with Samuel Gompers as its first president.