Tomorrow We Strike!: The Labor Movement Quiz


By: Bambi Turner

4 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

As the debate rages over paid sick leave for all and a $15 minimum wage, it's easy to forget that a little over a century ago people were working more than twice as many hours per week as the average American, with no paid holidays or job protection. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the history of the labor movement!

The Factories Act of 1877 limited young workers to this many hours of work each day in the UK.

The Factories Act of 1847 limited teens under age 18 to a 10-hour workday in the UK. Because of the way factories were set up at the time, the 10-hour workday spread fairly quickly to workers of all ages. France passed a similar law to protect its workers the following year.


How many hours was the average U.S. manufacturing worker toiling each week at the end of the 19th century?

Manufacturing workers averaged 100 hours of work per week in the U.S. in 1890, while those employed in the trades worked even longer.


What was the first U.S. industry subject to a law limiting the workday to 8 hours?

The Adamson Act of 1916 limited federal railroad workers to an 8-hour day and guaranteed overtime pay to those who exceeded the 8-hour workday.


What percent of U.S. workers were limited to 40 hours per week after 1937?

The much-touted Fair Labor Standards Act of 1937 limited U.S. workers to a 40-hour week, but there were so many exemptions in place that the Act really only covered 20 percent of workers.


What percentage of American workers were under 16 by 1900?

A little over a century ago, a whopping 18 percent of the American workforce was under the age of 16. In the South, that figure was closer to 25 percent.


What finally reduced child labor in the U.S. permanently?

It wasn't until the Great Depression, when jobs were so scarce that many felt they shouldn't be wasted on children, that child labor finally fell out of favor in the U.S.


The Fair Labor Standards Act banned children under this age from working in manufacturing or mines.

Thanks to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, children under the age of 16 were prohibited from working in some of the more dangerous occupations, like mining and manufacturing.


Which country passed the first national minimum wage law in 1894?

It was New Zealand that paved the way for workers by passing the first national minimum wage law in the world in 1894. Australia followed in 1896, but the law wasn't quite so comprehensive in that country.


What was the first U.S. state to institute a minimum wage?

In 1912, Massachusetts implemented the nation's first minimum wage law -- though the law covered only women and children and resulted in many employers cutting hours to save money.


How much was the federal minimum wage when it went into law in 1938?

Minimum wage laws required employers to pay workers just $0.25 per hour in 1938. This amount has been raised more than 20 times since the law was first enacted.


What percent of the American labor force is covered by federal minimum wage laws?

When minimum wage laws went into effect in 1938, they covered only one in five workers. By the early 21st century, 84 percent of workers were protected by these laws.


What act specifically permits collective bargaining in the U.S.?

Passed in 1935, the Wagner Act established the National Labor Relations Board. This act also allows for the formation of unions and the use of collective bargaining and collective action -- like striking.


Which union was founded by Samuel Gompers?

Samuel Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor in 1886 and led the organization until 1924. Under Gompers, the AFL became one of the most successful unions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


This 1947 Act revised some of the freedoms of the Wagner Act.

The Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 -- also known as the Taft-Hartley Act -- reduced some of the freedoms granted under the Wagner Act, including limiting strikes and prohibiting union payments to politicians.


What year was the first nationwide labor union formed in the U.S.?

Founded in 1866, the National Labor Union was the first union with national influence in the U.S. The organization disbanded less than a decade later.


More than 400,000 workers joined in a 1922 strike in this industry.

A 12 percent pay cut for workers led to one of the biggest strikes in American history as 400,000 workers joined forces for the Great Railway Strike of 1922.


What was the nickname for members of the Industrial Workers of the World?

The Wobblies of the IWW included more than 150,000 workers, mostly unskilled. Led by Big Bill Haywood, the group worked towards the concept of "One Big Union," meaning people of all industries could join forces as one.


What union was founded by John Lewis in 1938?

Longtime miner John Lewis helped to split the Congress of Industrial Organizations off from the AFL. He was also president of the United Mine Workers of America for 40 years.


Where did the Haymarket Square riot take place?

On May 4, 1886, at least 11 people were killed as labor protesters clashed with police in Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois.


What year was Labor Day established as a federal holiday?

Although many states had their own Labor Day celebrations before 1894, the federal government established the first Monday in September as a federal holiday in 1894.


What city hosted the first Labor Day parade in the country?

More than 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Square in New York City on September 5, 1882 for the country's first Labor Day parade.


How many workers took part in the Pullman Strike of 1884?

After Pullman reduced wages across the board, more than 250,000 employees took part in a strike in the spring of 1884, which disrupted rail traffic across the country and proved to be a turning point in the labor movement.


What was the first state to pass laws aimed at worker safety?

Massachusetts was the first state to put safety laws in place to protect workers. Starting in 1877, factories within the state were required to have adequate fire exits and guards in place over moving parts on equipment and machinery.


What year was OSHA established?

Astoundingly, it wasn't until 1971 that Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which gives the federal government power over workplace safety and health.


How many occupational fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 1970?

Just a few years before OSHA, 14,000 U.S. workers died due to workplace accidents and another 2.5 million were disabled.


How many workplace fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2009?

In 2009, 35 years after OSHA was established, just 4,340 U.S. workers died on the job. The rate of serious workplace injuries dropped from 11 in 100 workers in 1972 to 3.6 in 100 workers in 2009.


Which of these is guaranteed by the Davis-Bacon act?

The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 ensures that all employees working on publicly-funded projects will be paid the prevailing wage -- or scale wage -- for workers in the area within that specific field.


Which president signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law?

It was FDR who signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law on June 25, 1938. The Act was a turning point in U.S. labor and ensured basic protections for many workers.


Which of these is NOT guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The FLSA guaranteed a minimum wage and limited work hours. It also put an end to many types of child labor. Protections for new mothers came much later with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.


What percentage of Americans belong to a union as of 2016?

Just under 12 percent of Americans belong to a labor union as of 2016, compared to a peak membership rate of 35 percent in the 1950s.


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