Scouting/BSA/American Labor Merit Badge

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Requirement 1[edit]

Develop a time line of significant history of the American labor movement from the 1770's to today.'

1648 - Boston shoemakers and coopers form guilds.

1770 - Boston Massacre set off by a conflict between rope workers and British soldiers.

1776 - Declaration of Independence signed in Carpenter's Hall.

1790 - First textile mill, built in Pawtucket, RI, is staffed entirely by children under the age of 12.

1814 - The invention of the power loom makes weaving a factory occupation.

1827 - The first citywide labor council forms in Philadelphia.

1837 - Andrew Jackson declares a 10-hour workday in Philadelphia Navy Yard.

1868 - The first federal 8-hour day takes effect. It is very limited, though.

1874 - The union label is used for the first time by the Cigar Makers International Union.

1876 - Molly Maguires convicted for coal-field murders in Pennsylvania. 10 are hanged.

1882 - First Labor Day Celebration takes place in New York City.

1885 - The Foran Act bans immigration of laborers brought in under contract to break strikes.

1886 - The American Federation of Labor forms with Samuel Gompers as its first president.

1886 - The Haymarket Riot takes place in Chacago. Four are hanged.

1892 - The Homestead Strike in Pennsylvania ends in a Union loss.

1906 - The International Typographical Union successfully strikes for an 8-hour day.

1919 - A strike by Boston police is the first ever by public safety workers.

1935 - The Social Security act is approved.

1936 - The Walsh-Healey Act sets safety standards, minimum wage, overtime pay and child labor provisions on all federal contracts.

1938 - A federal minimum wage law takes effect.

1947 - The Taft-Hartley Act restricts union activities and lets states pass "right-to-work" laws.

1955 - The AFL and CIO reunite.

1964 - The Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination.

1981 - Ronald Reagan fires most of the nation's air traffic controllers for refusing to end strike.

1993 - The Family and Medical leave Act is passed.

1997 - UPS workers strike over control of retirement benefits.


Prepare an exhibit or a scrapbook illustrating three major achievements of the American labor movement.
In 500 words or more, write about one of the founders of organized labor in the United States.

John L. Lewis was president of the UMWA from 1920-1960. He was a giant among American leaders in the first half of the twentieth century, regularly advising presidents and challenging America's corporate leaders. His work to organize the country's industrial workers through the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the 1930s helped raise living standards for millions of American families. In the first year of the CIO, nearly four million workers joined labor organizations and wages were raised by over a billion dollars. Lewis sent hundreds of UMWA organizers to help create some of the nation's leading labor unions, including the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), the United Auto Workers (UAW), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and many other important labor organizations that continue to speak in behalf of America's workers.

Perhaps Lewis' greatest legacy was the creation of the UMWA Welfare and Retirement Fund in a contract with the federal government, signed in the White House with President Truman in attendance. The UMWA Fund would change permanently health care delivery in the coal fields of the nation. The UMWA Fund built eight hospitals in Appalachia and established numerous clinics. In 1964, Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian decoration, by President Lyndon Johnson. He remained Chairman of the UMWA Fund until his death in 1969.


In 500 words or more, write how the work force fits into the economic system of the United States.

Requirement 2[edit]

Check with some news sources where you live -- public library, federal, state, county, or municipal employment office; labor union office -- for information about working people and their concerns. Discuss your findings with your counselor.

Requirement 3[edit]

Discuss with your counselor how you would lead a discussion on the subject of worker concerns about job-related issues. Issues should be related to the workplace (safety, job assignments, seniority, wages, child care, etc.).

Requirement 4[edit]

With the help of your counselor, prepare an exhibit or scrapbook illustrating ONE of the following:
Issues that concern American workers
Federal and state labor laws showing how these laws affect American workers
Current issues you have learned about from a national union or employee group

Requirement 5[edit]

Visit the office or attend a meeting of a local union, an AFL-CIO labor council, or an independent employee organization. Talk with some people there and find out what the organization does. Draw a diagram of the organizational structure of the association you visited from the local to the national level, if applicable.

Requirement 6[edit]

Be prepared to define and discuss some of the key terms used in labor relations.

Requirement 7[edit]

With help from your counselor, determine some of the basic rights and responsibilities that members of unions, employee organizations, and those not belonging to a collective association have.

Requirement 8[edit]

With help from your counselor, chart a comparison of wages, benefits, and working conditions in a union shop and a nonunion shop in the same industry.

Requirement 10[edit]

Discuss with your counselor the different goals that may exist with owners of a business, its stockholders, its customers, its employees, the employees' representatives, the community, and public officials. Explain why agreements and compromises are made and how they affect each group in attaining its goals.

External links[edit]

American Labor Merit Badge with Workbook PDF, current requirements, and resources for the American Labor Merit Badge.


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