Today in Labor History December 8th

Samuel Gompers

25 unions, representing 316,469 members, founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; Cigar Maker’s union leader Samuel Gompers was elected president. The AFL grew out of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, which started in 1881 in Pittsburgh. The AFL’s founding document’s preamble reads: “A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer…” – 1886

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A 114-day newspaper strike began in New York City. – 1962

President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into law, stating that it “will promote more growth, more equality, better preservation of the environment, and a greater possibility for world peace.” In reality, NAFTA has done the opposite: costing jobs and lowering wages, increasing inequality, and compromising environmental and consumer protections. – 1993

Nearly 230 jailed teachers, about one-fourth of the 1,000-member Middletown Township, New Jersey staff, were ordered freed after they and their colleagues agreed to end a nine-day strike and go into mediation with the local school board. – 2001

Faced with a national unemployment rate of 10 percent, President Barack Obama outlined new multibillion-dollar stimulus and jobs proposals, saying the country must continue to “spend our way out of this recession” until more Americans are back at work. Joblessness had soared 6 percent in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency. – 2009

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