Let’s face it. It’s downright hot today. On days like this, it’s easy for the mind to wander to thoughts of lobsters at Abbotts or ice cream from the UConn Dairy Bar.
And depending on your perspective, it’s a hat-type of day — though for most people, a baseball cap is probably the biggest fashion statement people want to make.
What does that have to do with labor & employment law? I’m getting there.
Sometime ago, I came across a neat little website put on by the Judicial Branch Law Library entitled a "Dose of Connecticut Legal History." It recaps interesting cases and events in Connecticut history.
One the cases recaps The Danbury Hatters Case at the early part of the 20th century. If you haven’t heard of it, the law library site recaps it nicely.
Before current labor laws were instituted, the case arose out of an employer’s failure to recognize a hatters’ union. The employees went on stike; the employer hired replacements and the workers organized a boycott. Six years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the strikers. Seven years after that the Court again ruled in favor of the employer allowing the employer to collect damages. As a result, the workers’ union organized a "Hatters’ Day" asking for an hour’s pay from members to help pay the fines.
With the rise of National Labor Relations Act and the shrinking of union influence in the Connecticut workforce, it’s hard to imagine a time when Connecticut stood at the center of many labor law battles.
But as you don your cap today, you can think of the Danbury Hatters case as one where Connecticut took center stage on the labor law battles from yesteryear.