On December 29, 1970 President Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act to protect workers’ safety and health. The purpose of the legislation was to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions”.
The push for this type of federal regulatory program for workplace safety came about from officials in the Labor Department who were dissatisfied with the limited scope of authority to regulate safety in the workplace. Worker Safety is still a core union principle.
Congress enacted the NLRA on July 5, 1935. The Act significantly expanded the government’s powers to intervene in labor relations. Before the law, employers had liberty to spy upon, question, punish, blacklist, and fire union members. In the 1930s workers began to organize in large numbers. A great wave of work stoppages in 1933 and 1934 included citywide general strikes and factory occupations by workers. Hostile fights erupted between workers bent on organizing unions and the police who backed the interests of anti union factory owners who hated unionizing. Some historians maintain that Congress enacted the NLRA primarily to help stave off even more potentially serious revolutionary labor unrest.
The Davis-Bacon Act is passed, which established the requirement for paying prevailing wages on publicly funded projects. In 1931, laws were enacted both in Washington and in Wisconsin to guarantee fair competition on federal and state construction projects. Over the years these laws, the Davis-Bacon Act and the state Prevailing Wage law, have become recognized by workers both inside and outside the construction industry as important milestones in the history of organized labor.
340,000 workers across the country demonstrate for the eight-hour work day.
On August 20, 1866, the National Labor Union, made up of skilled and unskilled workers, farmers, and reformers, called on Congress to order an eight-hour workday.
The National Labor Union was created to pressure Congress to make labor law reforms. The Union failed to persuade Congress to shorten the workday and the labor organization itself dissolved in 1873. However, its efforts heightened public awareness of labor issues and increased public support for labor reform in the 1870s and 1880s.
The First Labor Day holiday was celebrated on September 5th in 1882 nationally.
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the UBC was first in suggesting a day to honor working people. In 1887 New York State was the first to introduce a bill to make it a state holiday as well, later that year New Jersey adopted the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment.
Peter J McGuire, along with representatives from 11 different cities, formed the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.