Arrests began early Thursday morning outside a busy McDonald's in New York City as thousands of fast-food workers coast to coast put down their burger flippers and picked up picket signs in a national strike that included civil disobedience as the workers rally for $15 minimum wages and the right to form a union without retaliation. Take a look back at the 10 biggest strikes in U.S. history.
Take a look back at the 10 biggest strikes in U.S. history as compiled by the financial website 24/7 Wall Street.
10. 1997 UPS workers strike -- The largest U.S. strike of the 1990s was lead by 185,000 UPS Teamsters who walked off the job in August 1997 for better wages, more full-time jobs and other issues, affecting shipping nationwide.
9. 1970 U.S. Postal Service strike -- This strike started in New York City but spread to 210,000 postal workers nationwide in March 1970 over increased dissatisfaction with wages, working conditions, benefits and management. Their demands were largely met after mail delivery came to a near standstill.
8. Steel Strike of 1959 -- More than 500,000 steel workers walked off the job nationwide in November 1959 over a demand for higher wages and to protect a contract clause that guaranteed worker jobs and hours. They won their case on both issues.
7. 1956 Bituminous Coal Strike -- On April Fools’ day of 1946, the United Mine Workers of America called on 400,000 bituminous coal miners in 26 states to strike for safer conditions, health benefits and pay. The strike lasted until December.
6. Textile Workers Strike of 1934 -- On Labor Day in 1934, after years of long hours and low wages, more than 400,000 American textile workers on the East Coast went on strike in response to what they believed was negligent representation of textile labor in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration. A lack of outside support forced the strike to end after just 20 days.
5. Railroad Shop Workers Strike of 1922 -- More than 400,000 railroad shop workers from a conglomeration of unions went on strike in July 1922 over a 7-cent cut in pay. They settled for a 5-cent pay cut and went back to work in October.
4. Steel Strike of 1919 -- In September 1919, United States Steel Corporation workers in Pittsburgh organized a strike against poor working conditions, long hours, low wages and corporate harassment regarding union involvement. The strike failed and eventually broke up in January 1920, resulting in an absence of union organization in the steel industry for the next 15 years.
3. Great Anthracite Coal Strike -- Seeking better wages and conditions, more than 147,000 coal miners went on strike from May to October 1902 in eastern Pennsylvania, an area that contained the majority of the nation’s supply of anthracite coal. With an energy crisis looming, workers got a 10 percent raise -- half of what they were bargaining for.
2. The Pullman Strike -- Facing 12-hour work days and wage cuts, factory workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago walked out in protest in May 1894. Railway workers grew their ranks to 250,000 strikers, effectively shutting down train traffic west of Chicago. Widespread sympathy to their cause promoted pro-union sentiment across many areas of the country.
1. Great Southwest Railroad Strike -- In March 1886, the Knights of Labor went on strike over unsafe work conditions and unfair hours and pay at the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads, affecting 200,000 workers in five states. Nonunion workers and violence and scare tactics forced an end to the strike in September that year.