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History of Labor in Virginia: An Interactive Timeline and Map

Whether we are Black or white, young or old, from Abingdon or Arlington, people in Virginia work hard for their families and their future. Everyone deserves safe jobs, family-sustaining wages, and time to spend with their loved ones. But far too many people in Virginia are still living paycheck-to-paycheck while greedy corporations divide them, hoping that Virginians will look the other way while they steal the profits from their hard work.

By joining together in a union and putting power in workers’ hands, working people in Virginia can make sure that every one of us can care for our families, earn a fair return on our work, and make our voices heard and our rights respected. When workers can bargain together, we can win safer workplaces, higher wages, and better benefits for all our families — particularly for people who have been most harmed by the status quo.

The commonwealth has a strong history of labor organizing by working Virginians as well as a history of significant labor suppression by those in power. From the mines of Southwest Virginia, to shipyards in Newport News, to Starbucks workers in Leesburg, to hospitals in Charlottesville, to textile factories in Danville, and more, workers have organized for the right to stick together and improve working conditions. This map seeks to illuminate the history of labor organizing, and serve as a record of its future, across communities in Virginia.

Do you know of an event that should be included?

If you know of a labor history event from your own community that you would like to submit for possible inclusion, please reach out to Mel Borja, TCI’s Worker Power Policy Analyst (mel@thecommonwealthinstitute.org), and include source materials whenever possible.

Acknowledgments

We thank Fowota Mortoo, a TCI summer 2022 intern, for spearheading this interactive map, and labor advocates and organizations who have shared their stories with us.

Image credits

Credits and sources are listed under each image in the map slides.

Sources, listed by slide number
  1. [Instruction Slide]
  2. Welch, A., “Law and the Making of Slavery in Colonial Virginia,” Ethnic Studies Review, 2004
  3. Rice, J.D., “Bacon’s Rebellion (1676-1677),” Encyclopedia Virginia
    McCulley, S., “Bacon’s Rebellion,” National Park Service, Feb 2015
    Blakemore, E., “Bacon’s Rebellion: Why America’s First Colonial Rebels Burned Jamestown to the Ground,” History, Aug 2019
    Inventing Black and White,” Facing History & Ourselves
    Simba, M., “Bacon’s Rebellion (1676),” BlackPast, Jan 2022
    Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676,” Virginia Places
  4. Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 2013
  5. Gabriel’s Rebellion: Another View of Virginia in 1800,” Independence Hall Association
  6. Nat Turner’s Rebellion,” The Library of Virginia
  7. The Story of Virginia’s Reconstruction,” Reconstructing Virginia
    Irrespective of Race or Color: African Americans and the Making of a New Virginia Constitution,” The Uncommon Wealth, Apr 2019
    Election of the state Constitutional Convention, 1870,” Document Bank of Virginia, accessed July 18, 2022
  8. Tarter, B., “The Readjuster Party,” Encyclopedia Virginia, May 2022
  9. Carvalho III, J., “The Baughman Boycott and its Effect on the Richmond, Virginia Labour Movement, 1886-1888,” Histoire sociale/Social History 12, 1979
  10. Richmond Story: The Knights of Labor,” The Valentine, Sep 2020
    Scribner, C., “Fight Over Right to Work Evokes History of Richmond Unions,” VPM NPR News, Apr 2021
  11. District Assembly No. 84 Knights of Labor,” Encyclopedia Virginia
    Barrels, Boycotts, and Labor Oh My,” University of Richmond, History Engine 3.0
    Carvalho III, J., “The Baughman Boycott and its Effect on the Richmond, Virginia Labour Movement, 1886-1888,” Histoire sociale/Social History 12, 1979
  12. Carvalho III, J., “The Baughman Boycott and its Effect on the Richmond, Virginia Labour Movement, 1886-1888,” Histoire sociale/Social History 12, 1979
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. History of the IAM (Timeline),” International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
  17. Longshoreman Strike,” University of Richmond, History Engine 3.0
  18. Raye, J., “Norton VA Coal Miners Strike of 1901,” We Never Forget, Jan 2022
  19. The Formation of Local Union 666,” International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  20. Love, R., “Labor in Virginia During the Twentieth Century,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Oct 2021
  21. The Formation of Local Union 666,” International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  22. Michin, T., “Dan River Mills,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Feb 2021
    Snapshot History of Danville and the Mills,” William & Mary
  23. Contrera, J., and Brockell, G. “In 1933, two rebellious women bought a home in Virginia’s woods. Then the CIA moved in.,” The Washington Post, Feb 2020
  24. Love, R., “Labor in Virginia During the Twentieth Century,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Oct 2021
  25. History of Grain Millers,” BCTGM Local 406
    Northrup, H. R., “The Tobacco Workers International Union,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 56, no. 4, 1942
    Closed Shop Agreement,” UpCounsel
    Checkoff – Dues, Union, System, and Labor,” JRank Articles
  26. Zieger, R. H., “The Union Comes to Covington: Virginia Paperworkers Organize, 1933-1952,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 126, no. 1, 1982
  27. Fry, J. A., “Rayon, Riot, and Repression: The Covington Sit-down Strike of 1937,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 84, no. 1, 1976
  28. Du Bois, W. E. B., W.E.B. DuBois: The Crisis writings, Greenwich, Conn: Fawcett Publications, 1972
  29. Du Bois, W. E. B., W.E.B. DuBois: The Crisis writings, Greenwich, Conn: Fawcett Publications, 1972
    Albano, T., “Today in labor history: 400 Black women strike over wages, conditions,” People’s World, May 2013
    Tate, C., “Richmond Tobacco Strikes: A Unique Moment in Labor Activism
  30. Du Bois, W. E. B., W.E.B. DuBois: The Crisis writings, Greenwich, Conn: Fawcett Publications, 1972
    Watts, P.E., “No Tea for the Fever: The Richmond Tobacco Strikes 1937-1941,” Barnard College Department of History Thesis, May 2022
    Tate, C. “Richmond Tobacco Strikes: A Unique Moment in Labor Activism”
  31. Ibid.
  32. Michin, T., “Dan River Mills,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Feb 2021
  33. Larus & Brother Company,” Virginia Museum of History and Culture, 2004
  34. Cavanaugh, D. “UVA and the History of Race: Confronting Labor Discrimination,” University of Virginia, Mar 2021
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Crawley, W., “William M. Tuck,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Dec 2021
  38. Kozak, F. R., Public Employee Collective Bargaining in Virginia: Perspectives and Direction, University of Richmond, 1977
    Cavanaugh, D. “UVA and the History of Race: Confronting Labor Discrimination,” University of Virginia, Mar 2021
  39. 1947: Anderson vs. Chesapeake Ferry Co,” William & Mary Law School
    Anderson v. Chesapeake Ferry Co.,” Casetext
    Anderson v. Chesapeake Ferry Company,” Virginia Supreme Court, 1947
    J. A. Anderson, State Highway Commissioner v. Chesapeake Ferry Company,” Washington and Lee University School of Law Scholarly Commons
  40. Love, R., “Labor in Virginia During the Twentieth Century,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Oct 2021
    Employer/Union Rights and Obligations,” National Labor Relations Board
  41. Taft-Hartley Act Overview,” FindLaw
    Love, R., “Labor in Virginia During the Twentieth Century,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Oct 2021
  42. United Constr. Workers v. Haslip Baking Co.,” Casetext
    United Constr. Workers v. Haslip Baking Co.,” Casemine
  43. Michin, T., “Dan River Mills,” Encyclopedia Virginia, Feb 2021
  44. About Us,” Carpenters Local 205
  45. United Paperworkers International Union, Local 675 (Covington, Va.) records,” United Paperworkers International Union. Local 675 (Covington, Va.), ArchivesSpace at GSU Library
  46. The History of URW Local 831,” United Steelworkers Local 831
  47. United Paperworkers International Union, Local 675 (Covington, Va.) records,” United Paperworkers International Union. Local 675 (Covington, Va.), ArchivesSpace at GSU Library
  48. Teamsters Loc. U. No. 822 v. City of Portsmouth, Va.
    Nolan, D., “Public Sector Collective Bargaining: Defining the Federal Role,” Cornell Law Review
  49. The History of URW Local 831,” United Steelworkers Local 831
  50. Commonwealth v. Arlington County Bd.,” Justia US Law
  51. Embrace the Past but Organize for the Future,” United Steelworkers
    Striking Workers,” Old Dominion University Libraries Digital Collections
    Suffolk News-Herald, Volume 58, Number 64, Virginia Chronicle – Library of Virginia, Mar 1980
    Dewar, H. “Newport News Company Union Ousted,” The Washington Post, Feb 1978
    Winant, G. “Where Did It All Go Wrong?,” The Nation, Feb 2018
  52. Omang, J., and Grubisch, T., “Dalton Declares Va. Coal Emergency,” The Washington Post, Mar 1978
  53. Paperworkers Strike in 2 States,” The New York Times, Nov 1978
  54. Custer, N. and Kruger, T., “Striking Workers,” Old Dominion University Libraries Digital Collections, Jan 1979
    Steelworkers’ Strike at a Standoff as Shipyard Maintains Production,” The New York Times, Feb 1979
    Kerney, J., “Steelworkers to Strike Newport News,” The Washington Post, Jan 1979
    Barnes, J., “Lessons Of The 1979 Newport News Strike,” The Militant, Apr 1999
    Franklin, B. “Steelworkers’ Midnight Strike Seems Certain at Big Shipyard in Virginia,” The New York Times, Jan 1979
    Newport News Shipbuilding v. NLRB, Casemine
  55. Collins, D. “State Police Keep Va. Coalfields Open,” The Washington Post, Apr 1981
  56. Perl, P., “Strike Hits Peaceful Shenandoah,” The Washington Post, Jun 1984
  57. Workers at Disston Inc Accept Company’s Offer After 6-month Strike,” The Washington Post, Sep 1987
    The History of URW Local 831,” United Steelworkers Local 831
  58. Gipe, W., “The Fight for Justice in Virginia,” Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review, May 2014
    Quinnell, K., “Pathway to Progress: The Pittston Coal Strike of 1989,” AFL-CIO, Jan 2022
    Priest, D., “Jesse Jackson Joins Forces With Striking Miners in VA,” The Washington Post, May 1989
  59. Marshall, G.L., “Miners say sit-ins have reduced production,” UPI Archives, Apr 1989
    Priest, D., “Miners Heed Court Order, End V.A. Plant Takeover,” The Washington Post, Sep 1989
    Yancey, D., “Showdown at Moss 3,” The Richmond Times, Apr 1990
    September 17, 1989,” Today in Labor History, Sep 2015
    Gipe, W., “The Fight for Justice in Virginia,” Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review, May 2014
  60. Gipe, W., “The Fight for Justice in Virginia,” Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review, May 2014
    Agrawal, H., “Struggling at Camp Solidarity,” The Harvard Crimson, Jan 1990
    Kwik, P., “Pittston: Class War in the Coalfields,” Against the Current, Jan 1990
    Quinnell, K., “Pathway to Progress: The Pittston Coal Strike of 1989,” AFL-CIO, Jan 2022
    Priest, D., “Striking Coal Miners Fear End of Union, Way of Life in V.A.,” The Washington Post, Jul 1989
  61. Quinnell, K. “Pathway to Progress: The Pittston Coal Strike of 1989,” AFL-CIO, Jan 2022
    Priest, D., “Contract Approved By Miners,” The Washington Post, Feb 1990
  62. Clark v. International Union, United Mine Workers, 752 F. Supp. 1291 (W.D. Va. 1990)
  63. Howes, D., “Railroad Strike Stops Cargo Traffic,” The Richmond Times, Apr 1991
  64. Partridge, D.M., Virginia’s New Ban on Public Employee Bargaining: A Case Study of Unions, Business, and Political Competition. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 10, 1997
  65. Norfolk Airport Authority v. Nordwall,” Justia US Law
  66. Miners end 7-month strike,” The Baltimore Sun, Dec 1993
    Edwards, G., “UMW Strike Expands to 3 Coal Mines in V.A.,” The Richmond Times, Jul 1993
  67. The History of URW Local 831,” United Steelworkers Local 831
  68. Sleemi, F., “Work Stoppages in 1999,” Compensation and Working Conditions, Fall 2000
    O’Brien, D., “Settled: Shipyard Strike: The Strike, Its Effects, Far Reaching,” Daily Press, Aug 1999
    Pay Raise Comes With Debt to 1999 Strike,” United Steelworkers Local 8888 in Newport News, Virginia, Sep 2019
    Thousands of Workers on Strike At Builder of Nuclear Carriers,” The New York Times, Apr 1999
    Williams, B., and Martin, M., “Shipyard Strikers Are Prepared to Stay Out,” The Militant, May 1999
    Workers Begin Strike at Newport News,” LA Times Archives, Apr 1999
    Timberg, C., “Striking Steelworkers Protest,” The Washington Post, Jun 1999
    A cry economic justice in Virginia shipyard strike; Company says final offer on table; union readies for a long walkout,” The Baltimore Sun, Apr 1999
  69. The History of URW Local 831,” United Steelworkers Local 831
  70. Nuckols, C., “Kaine says he’ll fight for approval of ex-union leader,” The Virginian-Pilot, Feb 2006
    Senior Advisor to the Governor for Workforce,” Virginia Memory Library of Virginia
    Virginia Republicans reject Kaine nominee,” The Washington Times, Mar 2006
    A Guide to the Governor Timothy M. Kaine Administrative Electronic Files, Email, 2002-2010
    AFL-CIO Labor History Timeline
  71. Adams, D., “Paper mill workers edge closer to strike,” The Roanoke Times, Dec 2006
    Williams, R., “Mill workers reject contract; strike delayed,” The Roanoke Times, Dec 2006
    Echoes Of The Past: December 5, 2011,” The Virginian Review, Mar 2022
  72. NoVA Janitors Strike,” DC Labor Archives, Jul 2007
  73. James E. Jackson Jr., activist, dies at 92,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sep 2007
  74. Janitors strike to join union,” Washington Times, Oct 2007
  75. Machinists Union Quarrels With IKEA-Owned Factory,” NPR, Jun 2011
    Brown, J., “Furniture Workers Win Ikea Union Drive, With Help from Abroad, Labor Notes, Jun 2011
  76. About Us,” Carpenters Local 205
  77. Dwyer, S., “Verizon employees still on strike; health benefits run out Saturday,” WDBJ7, Apr 2016
    Verizon crews back to work Wednesday, WBDJ7, May 2016
  78. Kutsch, T., “Inmates strike in prisons nationwide over ‘slave labor’ working conditions,” The Guardian, Sep 2016
    Announcement of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for Sept 9, 2016,” Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, Apr 2016
  79. 2016 November General,” Virginia Department of Elections
  80. Target workers go on strike in Christiansburg,” WSLS 10, Aug 2017
    Brady, J., and Connors, M., “Workers strike at Christiansburg Target during move-in,” Collegiate Times, Aug 2017
  81. Lopez, T., “Paper mill workers upset over safety concerns,” WSLS 10, Oct 2017
  82. Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et. al., Supreme Court of the United States, 2018
    Semuels, A., “Is This the End of Public-Sector Unions in America?,” The Atlantic, Jun 2018
  83. Burley, S., “Graduate Students at Williams & Mary Are Building a Union, and All Workers Are Invited,” Strikewave, Oct 2019
  84. Borja, M., “How public-sector workers are building power in Virginia,” Economic Policy Institute, Feb 2022
  85. Cavanaugh, D., “UVA and the History of Race: Confronting Labor Discrimination,” University of Virginia, Mar 2021
    UVA Union Launches Graduate Student Worker Campaign, United Campus Workers Virginia, May 2021
  86. Lieutenant Governor of Virginia recognizes UMWA members from Southwest Virginia,” United Mine Workers of America
  87. History made! 10,000+ members at Local 8888,” United Steelworkers Local 8888, Jan 2020
  88. Fox, A., “Waste Management workers strike out of COVID-19 concerns and lack of respect,” WAVY News, Aug 2020
    ‘Trash is what we do, it’s not who we are’ Virginia Beach Waste Management workers standing down until they get hazardous pay,” 3WKTR, Aug 2020
    Ostergren, C., “Virginia Beach Waste Management Employees Went on Strike on Wednesday, Want Hazard Pay,” Our Community Now, Aug 2020
  89. U.S. Department of Labor and Newport News Shipbuilding Enter Agreement to Resolve Alleged Hiring Discrimination,” US Department of Labor, Oct 2020
  90. Workers at Virginia Commonwealth University Announce Union,” United Campus Workers Virginia, Apr 2021
  91. Portsmouth considers collective bargaining for firefighters, other city employees,” 13News Now, May 2021
  92. Portsmouth firefighters hope to address retention, pay with potential collective bargaining negotiations,” 13News Now, Jun 2021
  93. Rosario, N., “Union member strike in Pulaski County affecting Volvo powertrain plant in Maryland,” WSLS 10, Jun 2021
    Jewell, J., “Union members approve two languages, reject one in Volvo ratification vote,” WSLS 10, May 2021
    Auto workers at Volvo truck plant in Virginia go on strike,” Associated Press, Apr 2021
  94. Reyes, J., “Reversing course, Portsmouth votes not to let city workers bargain through unions,” The Virginian-Pilot, Aug 2021
  95. Mondelez Workers on Strike at Virginia Bakery Plant,” U.S. News, Aug 2021
  96. Taube, D., “Collective bargaining approved for Fairfax County government workers,” FFX Now, Oct 2021
  97. United Steelworkers Local 8888 reaches tentative agreement with NN Shipbuilding,” 3 WKTR, Nov 2021
  98. Colonial Williamsburg workers rally for better wages, working conditions,” 3 WKTR, Dec 2021
    Reese, B., “Colonial Williamsburg workers win better pay, benefits under new contract after boycotts, rallies,” WAVY, Dec 2021
    Colonial Williamsburg workers unanimously vote to ratify new union contract with significant raises and benefits,” Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, Dec 2021
    Feser, M., and Catacora, D., “Enough is Enough”: Colonial Williamsburg Hospitality Workers to Rally for Fair Wages, Better Working Conditions During Grand Illumination,” Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, Dec 2021
    Daniel, E., “Hospitality workers rally for higher wages, better conditions in Colonial Williamsburg,” 13News Now, Dec 2021
    Mobley, R., “Union claims a shameful history is repeating itself in Colonial Williamsburg,” WAVY, Dec 2021
    Sheppard, N., “Unionized Colonial Williamsburg Hospitality Workers Unanimously Vote to Ratify New Contract,” Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, Dec 2021
    “Dignity that every worker deserves” | New union contract deal reached for hospitality workers in Williamsburg, 13News Now, Dec 2021
  99. Schiffres, M., “Richmond Public Schools teachers and staff first in Virginia to win collective bargaining rights,” VPM NPR News, Dec 2021
  100. Lazarus, J.M., “City workers launch campaign for collective bargaining,” Richmond Free Press, Jan 2022
  101. Reese, B., “Virginia Beach City Workers Union rally for collective bargaining outside council meeting,” WAVY, Jan 2022
  102. Schneider, R., “Bridges Starbucks employees vote to unionize,” WDBJ7, Feb 2022
    Blackwell, J.R., “Employees at two Starbucks shops in the Richmond region seek to unionize,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jan 2022
    Selyukh, A., “Starbucks workers form their 1st union in the U.S. in a big win for labor,” NPR, Dec 2021
  103. USW Local 8888 Ratifies 60-Month Contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries,” United Steelworkers Local 8888, Mar 2022
    Ayo, J. “USW Local 8888 ratifies 5-year contract with Newport News Shipbuilding,” WAVY, Mar 2022
    It’s a deal: United Steelworkers reach agreement for better benefits at Newport News Shipbuilding,” 13News Now, Mar 2022
  104. Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?,” More Perfect Union, Feb 2022
    Fearing, S., “NN Starbucks first to announce intent to unionize in Tidewater area,” WAVY, Apr 2022
    Baker, B., “Newport News Starbucks Employees Looking To Unionize,” Peninsula Chronicle, May 2022
  105. Woolsey, A., “Merrifield Starbucks becomes first in Fairfax County to unionize,” FFX Now, Apr 2022
  106. Mcnamara, S., “These Leesburg Starbucks Workers Just Helped Win a Union,” Washingtonian, Apr 2022
    Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?,” More Perfect Union, Feb 2022
  107. @SBWorkersUnited, “Nuckols Rd in Glen Allen, VA is filing for a union election! This is the 9th Richmond store to unionize (and the 15th in the state)!” Apr 14, 2022
    Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?,” More Perfect Union, Feb 2022
  108. Noe-Payne, M., “Starbucks employees in Richmond vote yes on unionization effort,” WVTF, Apr 2022
  109. Noe-Payne, M., “Starbucks employees in Richmond vote yes on unionization effort,” WVTF, Apr 2022
  110. Kennedy, K., “Starbucks workers win more unions in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Virginia,” TAG 24, May 2022
  111. Covert, B., “Target Workers at Virginia Store File to Start a Union | The New Republic,” The New Republic, May 2022
  112. Knott, K., “Workers at Corner Bodo’s store to unionize,” The Daily Progress, May 2022
    Robinson, S., “Bodo’s workers seeking unionization, not all employees in favor,” CBS 19 News, May 2022
  113. Newport News Starbucks votes to unionize,” 13News Now, May 2022
    @WorkersUnitedMA, “Number 9! Today the Oyster Point Starbucks partners store in Newport News, Virginia in the Hampton Roads region voted 11-7 to unionize! That now makes 9 stores in right-to-work #Virginia to go union! Congrats Oyster Point partners! #SBWorkersUnited #WUNoMatterWhat,” May 19, 2022
  114. Chan, M., “Arlington School Board authorizes collective bargaining for employees,” ARLnow, Jun 2022
  115. Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?,” More Perfect Union, Feb 2022
  116. Hart, M., “Bodo’s Bagels workers vote against unionization,” The Cavalier Daily, Jun 2022
  117. Foretek, J., “Prince William County School Board passes collective bargaining resolution,” Inside NoVA, Jun 2022
  118. Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?,” More Perfect Union, Feb 2022
  119. Map: Where Are Starbucks Workers Unionizing?,” More Perfect Union, Feb 2022
Mel Borja

mel@thecommonwealthinstitute.org

Fowota Mortoo

fowota@thecommonwealthinstitute.org

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