A Timeline of American Employee Rights

Library of Congress
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The Right to Strike

In 1794, shoemakers in Philadelphia organized a union, which they named the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers. Ten years later, the union went on strike, arguing for higher wages. In response, their employers brought them to court—and won. The case, Commonwealth v. Pullis made striking a federal crime, akin to conspiracy. Thirty-five years later Commonwealth v. Hunt reversed the decision and granted unions the legal right to strike.