Workers' Rights

Throughout our nation’s history, American workers have argued that they maintain certain rights while on the job. One of the many ways workers have fought to protect their rights and push for better conditions at work is by forming unions.

Pushing for better pay, reasonable hours, and better treatment on the job wasn’t an easy task. Workers risked their jobs and paychecks, and sometimes faced threats by employers who argued that new workers could always be found. Not every attempt to secure better working conditions succeeded.

Forming a union didn’t mean that the job of securing better working conditions was complete. It often was just the start. Questions about the limits of workers’ rights persist.

What would you risk to form a union?

Examine two stories of workers’ rights in American History.

Pullman Porters

Pullman Porters
Against the odds, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first African American union to receive a charter from the American Federation of Labor and recognition from a major company.

Read the Pullman Porters story

United Farm Workers

United Farm Workers
During the 1960s, the United Farm Workers organized a national grape boycott in the fight for better working conditions and higher pay.

Read the United Farm
Workers story