AFGE Local 720 History


"Signing of the Local AFGE 720 Contract in 1967"


Staff pictured: Warden P.G. Smith, Jim Birdsall, Jim Rigsby, Emanuel Payne, Walter Favre, Jim Majors, Les Parham, Max Barnhouse, Charlie Manion, Mr. Reichle and Doyne Reed.


The Local was originally chartered on March 24, 1942, and was known as AFGE Lodge 720 at that time.  The Council of Prison Lodges was chartered on August 1, 1960.  Between 1962 and 1968, the Bureau of Prisons granted recognition to a separate local union, each a lodge affiliated with AFGE, as the representatives of employees at each of the twenty-six Bureau facilities that existed at the time.  On January 17, 1968, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, granted exclusive recognition to the Council of Prison Lodges under Executive Order 10988. The Council changed its name to the Council of Prison Locals (CPL), and AFGE Lodge 720 became AFGE Local 720 on October 1, 1975.


The first national collective bargaining agreement (Master Agreement) became effective in 1968 and every successive agreement was negotiated by national officers of the Council.  The original collective bargaining agreement between AFGE Local 720 and USP Terre Haute was signed and issued on March 24, 1942.


Recent Local Presidents Include:

2002-Present:Dave Gardner1994:Gerald Staggs1985:Paul Walker
2001:Dane Heady1990-93:Earl Elliot1984:William Felker
2000:Mark Franklin1989:Dale Lewsader1982-83:Wayne Keys
1998-99:Dave Gardner1988:Gerald Staggs1981:Clifton Fulk
1996-97:Mark Franklin1987:Manford T. Osburn  
1995:Kent Baumgartner1986:Patrick McNabb   

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Events in U.S. Labor History (1800-1989)

  • 1806 The Union of Philadelphia Journeymen Cordwainers were the first union to be tried and convicted of criminal conspiracy after striking for higher wages. They were charged with combining to raise wages and to injure others. Fines and convictions forced the Union to go bankrupt and disband.
  • 1823 Hatters in New York City were tried and convicted of conspiracy.
  • 1827 Tailors in Philadelphia were tried for conspiracy. The verdict stressed the “injury to trade” aspect of their organization.
  • 1831 Nat Turner lead a slave rebellion in Virginia. He was later killed.
  • 1835 Children employed at the silk mills in Patterson, New Jersey went on strike for the 11 hour day/6 day week; Geneva shoemakers are tried and convicted for conspiracy. The first federal government employee work stoppage begins when employees at the Washington and Philadelphia Navy yards struck for the 10-hour day and for general redress of their grievances.
  • 1837 The “Panic of 1837″ puts an end to the National Trades Union and most other unions; President Jackson declares the ten-hour day in the Philadelphia Navy Yard to quell discontent caused by Panic of 1837.
  • 1838 One-third of the nation’s workers were unemployed due to the economic hard times.
  • 1840 President Van Buren proclaimed the ten-hour day without reduction in pay for all federal employees on public works.
  • 1842 In Commonwealth v. Hunt, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that labor unions, as such, are not illegal conspiracies; Connecticut and Massachusetts passed laws prohibiting children from working over ten hours per day.
  • 1848 Child labor law in Pennsylvania makes twelve the minimum age for workers in commercial occupations. Pennsylvania passes a ten hour day law. When employers violated it, women mill workers riot and attack the factory gates with axes.
  • 1850 The “Compromise of 1850″ perpetuates slavery and the sectional debates between North and South.
  • 1851 Two railroad strikers were shot dead and others were injured by the state militia in Portage, NY.
  • 1860 Shoemakers successfully strike in Lynn, Massachusetts/New England (800 women operatives and 4,000 workmen marched during the strike). Abraham Lincoln, in support of the shoemakers, says, “Thank God that we have a system of labor where there can be a strike.”
  • 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which frees slaves in the southern areas that Union forces occupied.
  • 1864 The legality of importing immigrants by holding a portion of their wages or property is upheld in the Contract Labor Law. These immigrants were often used as strikebreakers. Though this law was repealed in 1868, the practice was not outlawed until the passage of the Foran Act in 1885.
  • 1865 The 13th Amendment to the Constitution bans slavery in US.
  • 1867 General strike of Chicago trade unions demanding an 8 hour day.
  • 1868 First federal 8 hour day passed, only applies to laborers, mechanics, and workmen employed by the government.
  • 1869 In Washington DC, the Black National Labor Union was founded under the leadership of Isaak Myers; the first local of the Knights of Labor was founded in Philadelphia–it maintained extreme secrecy. Membership was open to blacks and women; the first national female union (Daughters of St. Crispin) was organized. They held a convention in Lynn, Massachusetts and elected Carrie Wilson as president.
  • 1870 The first written contract between coal miners and coal mine operators was signed; Due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, infant mortality in New York was 65% higher than in 1810.
  • 1873 The “Panic of 1873″ followed by a depression wiped out most national unions.
  • 1874 The original Tompkins Square Riot occured. As unemployed workers demonstrated in NY’s Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake. Police Commissioner, Abram Duryee, comments: “It was the most glorious sight I ever saw…” Also, in New York City, police injured dozens of unemployed at a rally.
  • 1877 On June 21st, ten coal-mining activists (“Molly Maguires”) were hanged in Pennsylvania. On July 14th, a National railroad strike crippled the country. Federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike as some state militias sided with strikers. At the “Battle of the Viaduct” in Chicago, federal troops (recently returned from an Indian massacre) killed 30 workers and wounded over 100.
  • 1882 The First Labor Day celebration was held in New York City where some 30,000 workers marched in the parade.
  • 1884 The Federal Bureau of Labor was established as part of Department of the Interior.
  • 1885 The Foran Act was passed which outlaws immigration of laborers on contract.
  • 1885 This year marked the period of greatest influence by Knights of Labor.
  • 1886 In Columbus, Ohio, the American Federation of Labor is formed with Samuel Gompers as the first president. Hundreds of thousands of American workers took their protests to the streets to demand the universal adoption of the eight hour day. Chicago was the center of the movement bringing most of Chicago manufacturing to a standstill. A fight involving hundreds broke out at McCormick Reaper between locked-out unionists and the non-unionist workers McCormick hired to replace them. The Chicago Police, swollen in number and heavily armed, quickly moved in with clubs and guns to restore order. They left four unionists dead and many others wounded. Then at Haymarket Square in Chicago during a rally in support of the 8 hour day, violence erupted following a mysterious explosion which killed seven policemen and injured 67 others. Hysterical city and state government officials rounded up eight anarchists, tried them for murder, and sentenced them to death.
  • 1887 On November 11th, four of the 8 anarchists accused in the Haymarket Square explosion, including Parsons and Spies, were executed. All of the men executed advocated armed struggle and violence as revolutionary methods, but their prosecutors found no evidence that any had actually thrown the Haymarket bomb. They died for their words, not their deeds. A quarter of a million people lined Chicago’s street during Parson’s funeral procession to express their outrage at this gross miscarriage of justice. For radicals and trade unionists everywhere, Haymarket became a symbol of the stark inequality and injustice of the dominant society. The Bayview Massacre also took place at this time, where 7 people, including 1 child, were killed by the state militia. The Milwaukee Journal reported that 8 more would die within 24 hours and without hesitation added that Governor Rusk was to be commended for his quick action in the matter. Also in this year, the Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shot 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage and lynched two strike leaders.
  • 1892 The Homestead Strike in Pennsylvania occured where Pinkerton guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel workers. Three Pinkertons surrendered, then unarmed, a mob of townspeople, most of them women, set upon them and beat them. Seven guards and 11 strikers and spectators were shot to death. The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers lost the fight over Carnegie Steel’s attempt to break the union. Striking miners in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho dynamited the Frisco Mill, leaving it in ruins.
  • 1893 The first of several bloody mining strikes occured at Cripple Creek, Colorado. During a strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company, which had drastically reduced wages, the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago’s Jackson Park was set ablaze, and seven buildings were reduced to ashes. The mobs raged on, burning and looting railroad cars and fighting police in the streets until July 10th when 14,000 federal and state troops finally succeeded in putting down the strike.
  • 1894 Strike by the American Railway Union against the Pullman Palace Car Company near Chicago was defeated by the use of injunctions and federal troops. Federal troops killed 34 American Railway Union members in the Chicago area attempting to break a strike led by Eugene Debs, against the Pullman Company. Debs and several others were imprisoned for violating injunctions, causing disintegration of the union.
  • 1896 On September 21st, the state militia was sent to Leadville, Colorado to break a miner’s strike.
  • 1897 On September 10th, 19 unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a posse organized by the Luzerne County sheriff for refusing to disperse near Lattimer, Pennsylvania. The strikers, most of whom were shot in the back, were originally brought in as strike-breakers, but later organized themselves.
  • 1898 A portion of the Erdman Act, which would have made it a criminal offense for railroads to dismiss employees or discriminate against prospective employees based on their union activities, was declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 12th, 14 were killed and 25 wounded in violence resulting when Virden, Illinois mine owners attempted to break a strike by importing 200 non-union black workers.
  • 1899 When their demand that only union men be employed was refused, members of the Western Federation of Miners dynamited the $250,000 mill of the Bunker Hill Company at Wardner, Idaho, destroying it completely. President McKinley responded by sending in black soldiers from Brownsville, Texas with orders to round up thousands of miners and confine them in specially built “bullpens.” U.S. Army Troops occupied the Coeur d’Alene mining region in Idaho. Occupation continued through 1901.
  • 1902 Fourteen miners were killed and 22 wounded by scabherders at Pana, Illinois.
  • 1903 The Department of Commerce and Labor was formed; Troops were dispatched to Cripple Creek, Colorado to control rioting by striking coal miners; Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones) lead the March of the Mill Children to President Roosevelt’s home in New York as part of efforts to demand a 55 hour work week. Many of the children were victims of industrial accidents.
  • 1904 William Randolph Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle began publishing articles on the menace of Japanese laborers, leading to a resolution of the California Legislature that action be taken against their immigration; a battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners at Dunnville ended with 6 union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. Two days later, 79 strikers were deported to Kansas.
  • 1905 The Supreme Court held that a maximum hours law for N.Y. bakery workers was unconstitutional under the due process clause of the 14th amendment.
  • 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle which exposed the unsafe and unclean aspects of the Chicago meat-packing industry.
  • 1908 The Erdman Act was further weakened when Section 10 was declared unconstitutional. This section had made it illegal for railroad employers to fire employees for being involved in union activities.
  • 1909 In the “Uprising of the 20,000″, female garment workers went on strike in N.Y. Many were arrested. A judge told those arrested that they were on a strike against God.
  • 1910 A dynamite bomb destroyed a portion of the Llewellyn Ironworks in Los Angeles, where a bitter strike was in progress.
  • 1911 The Supreme Court ordered the AFL to cease its promotion of a boycott against the Bucks Stove and Range Company; Contempt charges against union leaders was dismissed on technical grounds; Fire consumed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company which occupied the top 3 floors of a 10 story building in N.Y. City. 147 people, mostly women and young girls working in sweatshop conditions, lost their lives; 50 of which died as they leapt from windows to the street; the others were burned or trampled to death as they desperately attempted to escape through stairway exits locked as a precaution against “the interruption of work.” On April 11th, the company’s owners were indicted for manslaughter. The fire led to the establishment of the New York Factory Investigating Commission to monitor factory conditions. Labor unions paid a Chicago “slugger” $50 for every scab he discouraged.
  • 1912 Police beat women and children during a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The National Guard was called out against striking West Virginia coal miners. Police shot three maritime workers killing one of the three, who were striking against the United Fruit Company in New Orleans.
  • 1913 The US Department of Labor was established. Secretary of Labor was given the power to “act as a mediator and to appoint commissioners of conciliation in labor disputes.”
  • 1914 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and other mine operators engaged company guards who were sworn into the State Militia just for the occasion to persuade strikers against the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company at Colorado’s Ludlow Mine Field to return to work. The guards attacked a union tent camp with machine guns, then set it afire along with wives and children of striking miners. Five men, 2 women, and 12 children die as a result of the “Ludlow Massacre.” The Clayton Act passed which limited the use of injunctions in labor disputes; the President appointed the Colorado Coal Commission to investigate the Ludlow Massacre and labor conditions in the mines following an unsuccessful strike by the United Mine Workers. The militia in Butte, Montana crushed a strike by the Western Federation of Miners.
  • 1915 World famous labor leader Joe Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City. He was convicted on trumped up murder charges and was executed 21 months later despite worldwide protests and two attempts of President Woodrow Wilson to intervene. In a letter to Bill Haywood shortly before his death, Joe Hill penned the famous words, “Don’t mourn – organize!” On this same day, factory guards at Roosevelt, New Jersey shot 20 rioting strikers.
  • 1916 Federal employees won the right to receive Worker’s Compensation insurance. Neil Jamison, owner of Everett Mills, hired strikebreakers who attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene, claiming the incident took place on Federal land and was therefore outside of their jurisdiction. They did intervene when picketers retaliated that evening claiming that the picketers crossed the line of jurisdiction. Police arrested 22 union men who attempted to speak out at a local crossroads. Arrests and beatings of strike breakers became common in the following months. Union speakers were forced to run gauntlets, whipped, tripped, kicked, and impaled against a spiked cattle guard at the end of the gauntlet. When the union called for a meeting, union men who arrived were fired on. Seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing. The 8 hour day for railroad workers was created with the passage of the Adamson Act which averted a nationwide strike; A Federal child labor law was enacted but was later declared unconstitutional. A bomb was set off during a “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Labor organizer Thomas J. Mooney and Shoe Worker Warren K. Billings were convicted. They are later pardoned in 1939.
  • 1917 Union organizer Frank Little was lynched in Butte, Montana. Federal agents raided The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) headquarters in 48 cities. Sheriff Harry Wheeler organized a deportation of 1,185 workers striking for improvements to safety and working conditions, an end to discrimination against labor organizations and unequal treatment of foreign and minority workers, and the institution of a fair wage system at the local copper mines in Bisbee, Arizona. Several thousand armed vigilantes forced the men into manure-laden boxcars and “deported” them to the New Mexico desert.
  • 1918 A hired private policeman shot United Mine Workers Organizer Ginger Goodwin outside Cumberland, B.C.
  • 1919 Company guards gunned down United Mine Worker organizer Fannie Sellins in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. On September 19, looting, rioting, and sporadic violence broke out in downtown and South Boston for days after 1,117 Boston policemen declared a work stoppage after their thwarted attempts to affiliate with the American Federation of labor. Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the entire state militia and put down the strike. Legionnaires attacked a Centralia, Washington IWW hall. A lynching of IWW organizer Wesley Everest followed the attack. Amid a strike for union recognition by 395,000 steelworkers (ultimately unsuccessful), approximately 250 “anarchists,” “communists,” and “labor agitators” were deported to Russia, marking the beginning of the so-called “Red Scare.”
  • 1920 The U.S. Bureau of Investigation began carrying out the nationwide Palmer Raids. Federal agents seized labor leaders and literature in the hopes of discouraging labor activity. A number of citizens were turned over to state officials for prosecution under various anti-anarchy statutes. The women’s suffrage amendment was ratified. In the Battle of Matewan in Matewan, West Virginia, The local mining company and 13 company managers hired Baldwin-Felts detectives to evict miners and their families from the Stone Mountain Mine camp. Sid Hatfield, police chief and former miner, and Mayor C. Testerman attempted to protect the miners from interference in their union drive. A gun battle ensued leaving 7 detectives, Mayor Testerman, and 2 miners dead. Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virgina coal miners at “The Battle of Blair Mountain.” Army troops intervened. Some researchers dub this battle the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War.
  • 1921 The Supreme Court held that nothing in the Clayton Act legalized secondary boycotts or protected unions against injunctions brought against them for conspiracy in restraint of trade. In Truax v. Corrigan, the Supreme Court ruled that an Arizona law forbidding injunctions in labor disputes and permitting picketing was unconstitutional under the 14 amendment.
  • 1922 The United Mine Workers was held not responsible for local strike action, and strike action was held not a conspiracy to restrain trade within the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. (Coronado Coal Co. v. UMMA); Violence erupted during a coal-mine strike in southern Illinois. Dubbed the “Herrin Massacre”, coal strikers killed 20 guards and strikebreakers; some 16 others were killed in Herrin, Illinois.
  • 1924 AFL President Samuel Gompers died. William Green became the AFL president; An amendment to the Constitution was proposed restricting child labor but not enough states passed the measure.
  • 1925 Labor “racketeers” blew up 2 Glendale Gas and Coal Company houses in Wheeling, West Virginia. Non-Union coal miners occupied the homes. A. Phillip Randolph and others founded The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the nation’s first African American union. The Pullman Company fought the union denouncing Randolph as a communist and recruiting middle class African American leaders, many of whom viewed labor unions as “trouble makers” against the best interest of African Americans, to discourage Randolph and the union. The Brotherhood ran into fierce opposition in Chicago where the Pullman Headquarters was located and where many porters lived. The AFL while they supported Randolph’s efforts, traditionally excluded African Americans from its membership. Other unions were often racist and did the same.
  • 1926 The Railway Labor Act required employers to bargain collectively and not discriminate against employees who wanted to join a union. The act also provided for mediation and voluntary arbitration in labor disputes. Textile workers in Passaic, NJ fought police. A year-long strike ensued.
  • 1927 Picketing miners were massacred in Columbine, Colorado.
  • 1929 The Hayes-Cooper Act regulating the shipment of prison labor goods in interstate commerce was approved; The stock market crash in October began the longest economic hardship period in American history.
  • 1930 Labor racketeers (“Chicagorillas”) shot and killed contractor William Healy, with whom the Chicago Marble Setters Union had difficulties. Over 100 farm workers were arrested for their unionizing activities in Imperial Valley, California. Eight were subsequently convicted of “criminal sydicalism.”
  • 1931 Gun-toting vigilantes attacked striking miners in Harlan County, Kentucky. In the Davis-Bacon Act, Congress provided for the payment of the prevailing wages to employees of contractors and subcontractors on public construction.
  • 1932 The Anti-Injunction Act prohibited Federal injunctions in most labor disputes; Wisconsin created the first unemployment insurance act in the United States. Police killed striking workers at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant.
  • 1933 18,000 cotton workers went on strike in Pixley, CA of which 4 were killed before a pay-hike was finally won.
  • 1934 500,000 Southern mill-workers walked off the job in the Great Uprising of ’34; The first National Labor Legislation Conference was called by the Secretary of Labor to obtain closer Federal-State cooperation in working out a sound national labor legislation program; The US joined the International Labour Organization. National Guardsmen killed 2 and wounded over 200 strikers in Toledo Ohio during the Electric Auto-Lite Strike. San Francisco Police shot and killed two longshoremen during the International Longshoreman’s and Warehouse Union strike of 1934. As part of a national movement to obtain a minimum wage for textile workers, 3 workers died in a strike in Woonsocket, RI. Over 420,000 workers ultimately went on strike. A. Phillip Randolph begins speaking at AFL conventions calling for the integration of African Americans in the labor movement.
  • 1935 The Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act) established the first national labor policy of protecting the right of workers to organize and to elect their representatives for collective bargaining. This Act revived the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which was on the verge of collapse, giving them legal muscle to deal with the Pullman Company; the Social Security Act was approved; the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) was formed within the AFL to foster industrial unionism.
  • 1936 The United Rubber Workers (CIO), in the first large sit-down strike, won recognition at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co; In Flint, Michigan, United Auto Workers made effective use of the sit-down strike at a General Motors plant; Two months later, company guards beat up UAW leaders at the River Rouge, Michigan plant. The Anti-Strikebreaker Act (Byrnes Act) declared it unlawful to transport or aid strikebreakers in interstate or foreign trade; The Public Contracts Act (Walsh-Healed Act) established labor standards, including minimum wages, overtime pay, child and convict labor provisions, and safety standards on all federal contracts.
  • 1937 In south Chicago, police killed 10 people in the Memorial Day Massacre during the “Little Steel” strikes. About 80 others were wounded. Police attacked an unarmed crowd of men and women who were supporting the strike between the Steel Workers Organizing Committee and Republic Steel; The 5 week “Little Steel” strike was broken when Inland Steel employees went back to work without union recognition or other gains; The CIO was expelled from the AFL over charges of dual unionism or competition. Pullman Company gave the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters its first contract which granted a reduction in work hours, a wage hike, job security, and union representation.
  • 1938 A Federal Maritime Labor Board was created by the Merchant Marine Act; The Fair Labor Standards Act created a $.25 minimum wage, established the 40-hour work week, and time and a half for hours over 40 per week; The act went into effect in October 1940 and was upheld in the Supreme Court on February 3, 1941. The CIO became the Congress of Industrial Organizations with John L. Lewis as its president.
  • 1940 In Apex Hosiery Co. v. Leader, the Supreme Court ruled that a sit-down strike was not an illegal restraint of trade under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in the absence of intent to control trade.
  • 1941 The United States entered World War II on December 8; The AFL and the CIO announced a no-strike pledge for the duration of the war.
  • 1945 World War II ended; The CIO affiliated with the newly created World Federation of Trade Unions. The AFL did not join because it felt the labor organizations of the Soviet Union were not “free and democratic”. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army to seize the executive offices of Montgomery Ward and Company after the corporation failed to comply with a National War Labor Board directive regarding union shops.
  • 1946 The largest strike wave in history began as pent up labor troubles were unleashed by the end of war-time controls. Workers in packing-houses nationwide went on strike. Some 400,000 mine workers across the U.S. went on strike. U.S. troops seized railroads and coal mines the following month. The U.S. Navy seized oil refineries in order to break a 20 state post-war strike.
  • 1947 Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act which restricted union activities and permited the states to pass “right-to-work” laws. President Truman vetoed the Act. Congress overrode the veto.
  • 1948 Would-be assassins shot and seriously wounded labor leader Walter Reuther.
  • 1949 An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 directly prohibited child labor for the first time; The CIO anti-Communist drive led to the expulsion of two unions at its annual convention. Nine other unions were expelled by mid-1950; Free, democratic trade unions from various countries withdrew from the World Federation of Trade Unions which came to be dominated by communists. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions was formed in London by labor representatives of 51 countries.
  • 1950 President Truman ordered the U.S. Army to seize all the nation’s railroads to prevent a general strike. The railroads were not returned to their owners until 2 years later.
  • 1952 President Truman ordered the U.S. Army to seize the nation’s steel mills to avert a strike. The Supreme Court ruled the act illegal on June 2nd.
  • 1955 Two of the largest labor organizations in the U.S. merged to form the AFL-CIO. Membership was estimated to be at 15 million.
  • 1956 A hired assailant threw sulfuric acid in the face of Columnist Victor Riesel, a crusader against labor racketeers in New York City, blinding the columnist.
  • 1957 AFL-CIO expelled Bakery Workers, Laundry Workers and Teamsters for corruption.
  • 1959 Congress passed the Landrum-Griffen Act (Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act) which regulated the internal affairs of unions in order to lessen corruption. The Supreme Court invoked the Taft-Hartley Act to break a steel strike.
  • 1962 Federal employee’s unions were given the right to bargain collectively with government agencies as a result of President Kennedy’s executive order.
  • 1963 Congress passed the Equal Pay Act which prohibited wage differences for workers based on sex and mandated equal pay to women. The longest newspaper strike in U.S. history ended. The 9 major newspapers in New York City had ceased publication over 100 days before.
  • 1964 The Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
  • 1968 The Age Discrimination in Employment Act went into effect making it illegal to discriminate in hiring or firing person between 40-65 on the basis of age; The UAW left the AFL-CIO and joined the Teamsters in forming the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA).
  • 1970 The first mass postal strike in U.S. Postal Service history began with a walkout of letter carriers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The strike soon involved 210,000 of the nation’s 750,000 postal employees. Mail Service was paralyzed in NY, Detroit, and Philadelphia. President Nixon declared a state of emergency and assigned military units to NY City post offices. The stand-off culminated 2 weeks later. Hawaii became the first state to allow its state and local officials the right to strike. Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
  • 1973 The major steel companies and the United Steelworkers of America approved an “Experimental Negotiation Agreement” where the union gave up the right to strike in favor of binding arbitration. The companies agreed to end stockpiling of products. Washington became the first state to allow the union shop for civil service employees.
  • 1974 The Coalition of Labor Union Women was formed in Chicago; Pension funds were to be regulated by Congress under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act; In response to the growth of public employee unionism, the AFL-CIO created a public employee department.
  • 1975 80,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) went on strike in the first legal large scale strike of public employees.
  • 1977 President and the Congress raised minimum wage to $2.65.
  • 1978 Congress passes the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, (October 13, 1978, Pub.L. 95-454, 92 Stat. 1111) (CSRA), which abolished the U.S. Civil Service Commission and distributed its functions primarily among three agencies: the newly established Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Federal Labor Relations Authority.  It is the FLRA that oversees the rights of federal employees to form collective bargaining units (unions) and to engage in collective bargaining with agencies. MSPB conducts studies of the federal civil service and mainly hears the appeals of federal employees who are disciplined or otherwise separated from their positions..
  • 1980 The first woman (Joyce Miller) was appointed to the AFL-CIO executive board.
  • 1981 Federal air traffic controllers began a nationwide strike after their union rejected the government’s final offer for a new contract. President Reagan fired most of the 13,000 striking controllers after they defied a back-to-work order. President Reagan then also de-certified their union on the basis of an illegal strike.
  • 1982 The Industrial Association of Machinists initiated a boycott against Brown & Sharpe (a machine precision measuring and cutting tool manufacturer) headquartered in Rhode Island after the firm refused to bargain in good faith. The firm withdrew previously negotiated clauses in the contract and forced the union into an unwanted and bitter strike during which the police sprayed pepper gas on some 800 IAM picketers at the company’s North Kingston plant. Three weeks later, a machinist narrowly escaped serious injury when a shot fired into the picket line hit his belt buckle. The National Labor Relations Board subsequently charged Brown & Sharpe with regressive bargaining, and of entering into negotiations with the express purpose of not reaching an agreement with the union.
  • 1986 Some 1,700 female flight attendants won an 18-year lawsuit including $37 million in damages against United Airlines who fired them for getting married.
  • 1987 The 35-member executive council of the AFL-CIO decided unanimously to readmit the 1.6 million member Teamsters Union to its ranks. The scandal-ridden union had been expelled from the federation in 1957. President Jackie Presser was awaiting trial at the time, and the U.S. Justice Department was considering removal of the union’s leadership because of possible links to organized crime.
  • 1989 98 miners and a minister occupied the Pittston Coal Company’s Moss 3 preparation plant in Carbo, Virginia beginning a year-long strike against Pittston Coal. While a month-long Soviet coal strike dominated U.S. news broadcasts, the year-long Pittston strike garnered almost no mainstream press coverage whatsoever.