January 16
The United States Civil Service Commission was established as the Pendleton Act went into effect - 1883
 
Thousands of Palmer Raids detainees win right to meet with lawyers and attorney representation at deportation hearings. "Palmer" was Alexander Mitchell Palmer, U.S. attorney general under Woodrow Wilson. Palmer believed Communism was "eating its way into the homes of the American workman," and Socialists were causing most of the country's social problems - 1920
 
Former UAW President Leonard Woodcock dies in Ann Arbor, Mich., at age 89. He had succeeded Walter Reuther and led the union from 1970 to 1977 - 2001
 
January 17
Radical labor organizer and anarchist Lucy Parsons leads hunger march in Chicago; IWW songwriter Ralph Chaplin wrote "Solidarity Forever" for the march - 1915
 
President John F. Kennedy signs Executive Order 10988, guaranteeing federal workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively - 1962

January 18
U.S. Supreme Court rules in Moyer v. Peabody that a governor and officers of a state National Guard may imprison anyone—in the case at hand, striking miners in Colorado—without probable cause “in a time of insurrection” and deny the person the right of appeal - 1909
 
"Take This Job and Shove It," by Johnny Paycheck, is listed by Billboard magazine as the most popular song in the U.S. - 1978
(Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class is a remarkable account of how working-class America hit the rocks in the political and economic upheavals of the 1970s.)
 
January 19
Twenty strikers at the American Agricultural Chemical Co. in Roosevelt, N.J., were shot, two fatally, by factory guards. They and other strikers had stopped an incoming train in search of scabs when the guards opened fire - 1915
 
Some 3,000 members of the Filipino Federation of Labor strike the plantations of Oahu, Hawaii. Their ranks swell to 8,300 as they are joined by members of the Japanese Federation of Labor - 1920
 
Yuba City, Calif., labor contractor Juan V. Corona found guilty of murdering 25 itinerant farm workers he employed during 1970 and 1971 - 1973
 
Bruce Springsteen makes an unannounced appearance at a benefit for laid-off 3M workers, Asbury Park, N.J. - 1986
 
January 20
Chicago Crib Disaster—A fire breaks out during construction of a water tunnel for the city of Chicago, burning the wooden dormitory housing the tunnel workers.  While 46 survive the fire by jumping into the frigid lake and climbing onto ice floes, approximately 60 men die, 29 burned beyond recognition and the others drowned - 1909

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) founded – 1920

Hardworking Mickey Mantle signs a new contract with the New York Yankees making him the highest paid player in baseball:  $75,000 for the entire 1961 season - 1961
 
Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown," a eulogy for dying industrial cities, is the country’s most listened-to song. The lyrics, in part: "Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores / Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more / They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks / Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back to your hometown / Your hometown / Your hometown / Your hometown..." - 1986
 
January 21
Some 750,000 steel workers walk out in 30 states, largest strike in U.S. history to that time - 1946
 
Postal workers begin four-day strike at the Jersey City, N.J., bulk and foreign mail center, protesting an involuntary shift change.  The wildcat was led by a group of young workers who identified themselves as “The Outlaws”- 1974
 
Six hundred police attack picketing longshoremen in Charleston, S.C. - 2000
 
January 22
Indian field hands at San Juan Capistrano mission refused to work, engaging in what was probably the first farm worker strike in California - 1826
(Farmworker’s Friend: The story of Cesar Chavez is a thoughtful and moving book about the inspiring life of American hero Cesar Chavez, founder and long-time leader of the United Farm Workers of America. This sympathetic portrayal of Chavez and his life’s work begins with his childhood, starting from the time his family’s store in Arizona failed during the Great Depression and his entire family was forced into the fields to harvest vegetables for a few cents an hour. It traces his growth as a man and as a leader, talking of his pacifism, his courage in the face of great threats and greater odds, his leadership and his view that the union was more than just a union, it was a community—una causa.)
 
Birth of Terence V. Powderly, leader of the Knights of Labor - 1849
 
The United Mine Workers of America is founded in Columbus, Ohio, with the merger of the Knights of Labor Trade Assembly No. 135 and the National Progressive Miners Union - 1890
 
Five hundred New York City tenants battle police to prevent evictions - 1932

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten