Today in Labor History – January 29th


Chesapeake and Ohio Canal workers rioted on this date, prompting President Jackson to send in troops, the first time American troops were used to suppress a domestic labor dispute. Workers were rebelling because of terrible working conditions and low pay. The canal project had been designed by George Washington and was intended to facilitate transportation of goods from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River Valley. Construction teams were made up mostly of Irish, German, Dutch and black workers who toiled long hours for low wages in dangerous conditions. The use of federal troops set a dangerous precedent that gave business leaders the confidence that they could count on the federal government to quash labor unrest in the future – 1834

6,000 railway workers struck in to demand union recognition and an end to 18-hour workdays. Police and militia busted the strike – 1889

Rubber workers engaged in a sit-down strike in Akron, Ohio, helping to establish the United Rubber Workers as a national union – 1936

American Train Dispatchers Department granted a charter by the AFL-CIO – 1957

Dolly Parton hits number one on the record charts with “9 to 5,” her anthem to the daily grind – 1981

Newly-elected President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and minorities to win pay discrimination suits – 2009

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