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Exploring American History Unit VII – Becoming a World Power. Chapter 21 - The Progressive Spirit of Reform Section 2- Reforming the Workplace. Reforming the Workplace. The Big Idea In the early 1900s, Progressives and other reformers focused on improving conditions for American workers.

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Exploring american history unit vii becoming a world power

Exploring American HistoryUnit VII – Becoming a World Power

Chapter 21 - The Progressive Spirit of Reform

Section 2- Reforming the Workplace


Reforming the Workplace

  • The Big Idea

  • In the early 1900s, Progressives and other reformers focused on improving conditions for American workers.

  • Main Ideas

  • Reformers attempted to improve conditions for child laborers.

  • Unions and reformers took steps to improve safety in the workplace and to limit working hours.


Lewis hines
Lewis Hines

In 1908 the National Child Labor Committee employed Lewis Hines as their staff investigator and photographer. Hines traveled the country taking pictures of children working in factories. Hines also lectured on the subject and once told one audience: "Perhaps you are weary of child labor pictures. Well, so are the rest of us, but we propose to make you and the whole country so sick and tired of the whole business that when the time for action comes, child labor pictures will be records of the past."


Child labor
Child Labor

  • The rise of child labor in the United States began in the late seventeen and early eighteen hundreds. Industrialization was a strong force in increasing the number of working children.

  • By nineteen hundred more than two million U.S. children worked. Children worked in factories, mines, fields and in the streets. They picked cotton, shined shoes, sold newspapers, canned fish, made clothes and wove fabric. Children were forced into this situation in order to help support their families.

Sadie Pfeifer, 48 inches high. Has worked half a year.


Child labor1
Child Labor

  • Working conditions were often horrendous. Children would work twelve hours a day, six days a week throughout the year.

  • The hours were long, the pay was low and the children were exhausted and hungry.

  • Factory children were kept inside all day long, children who worked the fields spent long, hot days in the sun or went barefoot in mud and rain.

  • These young workers could not attend school and rarely knew how to read or write

Breaker Boys" were used in the anthracite coal mines to separate slate rock from the coal after it had been brought out of the shaft. They often worked 14 to 16 hours a day.


Child labor2
Child Labor

  • Children in the United States continued to work under deplorable conditions until well into the mid-twentieth century.

  • In the early nineteen hundreds, reformers began working to raise awareness about the dangers of child labor and tried to establish laws regulating the practice.

  • In 1904, the National Child Labor Committee was formed. Throughout the nineteen hundreds, Congress and the Supreme Court were at odds over child labor regulation.

  • 1938- the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed and children were freed from the bondage of dangerous work


Main idea 1 reformers attempted to improve conditions for child laborers
Main Idea 1:Reformers attempted to improve conditions for child laborers.

  • Marie Van Vorst focused attention on the problem of child labor.

  • Many children worked in industry—in 1900 more than 1.75 million children age 15 or younger.

  • Children as young as seven years old provided cheap labor for manufacturers but brought home only small amounts of money to their families.

  • Reformers wanted labor laws to protect women and children.


Child labor reform
Child-Labor Reform

  • Florence Kelley was a leader in the fight against child labor.

  • Massachusetts passed the first minimum-wage law in 1912, and established a commission to set wage rates for children.

  • Congress passed federal child-labor laws in 1916 and 1919, banning child-labor products from interstate commerce.

    • The Supreme Court ruled the laws unconstitutional.


Reforming the workplace
Reforming the Workplace

  • Florence Kelly and the 1904- National Child Labor Committee.

  • Limiting Women’s workdays

  • No minimum wage.

  • Courts and Labor Laws

    • Lochner v. New York- sided with business owners and denied.

    • Muller v. Oregon- set a 10 hour workday for women.

  • Triangle Shirtwaist fire- death of over 140 men and women. Helped bring about tougher fire-safety laws.

  • Unions

    • ILGWU- International ladies Garment workers Union.

    • IWW- Industrial Workers of the World


Congress attempts to control child labor
Congress Attempts to Control Child Labor

In 1916 Congress made its first effort to control child labor by passing the Keating-Owen Act. The legislation forbade the transportation among states of products of factories, shops or canneries employing children under 14 years of age, of mines employing children under 16 years of age, and the products of any of these employing children under 16 who worked at night or more than eight hours a day. In 1918 the Supreme Court ruled that the Keating-Owen Act was unconstitutional.

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Keating-Owen Act was unconstitutional, Congress passed a Second Child Labor Law. This levied a tax of ten per cent on the net profits of factories employing children under the age of 14, and of mines and quarries employing children under the age of 16. This legislation was declared unconstitutional as a result of the Drexel Furniture Company case in 1922.


Fair labor standards act
Fair Labor Standards Act

June, 1938, that Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. The main objective of the act was to eliminate "labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standards of living necessary for health, efficiency and well-being of workers". This included the prohibition of child labor in all industries engaged in producing goods in inter-state commerce. It set the minimum age at 14 for employment outside of school hours in non-manufacturing jobs, at 16 for employment during school hours, and 18 for hazardous occupations.


Improving conditions for children
Improving Conditions for Children

  • Identify - Where did children work?

  • Recall - What was the purpose of the National Consumer’s League?

  • Make Inferences – Why did some parents ask their employed children to lie about their age?


Main Idea 2: Unions and reformers took steps to improve safety in the workplace and to limit working hours.

  • Workplace accidents were coming in 1800s and early 1900s.

    • Some 35,000 Americans were killed industrial accidents in 1900.

    • About 500,000 suffered injuries in 1900.

  • The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire that killed 146 workers, mostly women and girls, led to laws to improve factory safety.

  • Reformers fought for workers’ compensation laws, which guaranteed a portion of lost wages to workers injured on the job.

  • In 1902 Maryland became the first state to pass a workers’ compensation law.


The courts and labor
The Courts and Labor

  • Some businesses opposed workplace regulations, believing that the economy should operate without government interference. They went to court to block new labor laws.

  • New York passed a law in 1897 limiting bakers to a 10-hour workday.

    • Bakery owner Joseph Lochner sued.

    • In Lochner v. New York (1905), the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

    • The court ruled that the state could not restrict employers from entering into any kind of agreement with employees.

  • In 1908, however, the Supreme Court upheld a law restricting women’s work hours in Muller v. Oregon, ruling that it was a public health issue.


Labor organizations
Labor Organizations

  • Labor unions tried to improve working conditions and pay.

  • Union membership rose from 800,000 in 1900 to about 5 million in 1920.

  • American Federation of Labor led by Samuel Gompers

  • Supported capitalism, an economic system in which private firms run industry

  • Some unions supported socialism, a system in which the government owns most industry.

  • Leading socialist union was Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

  • IWW led by William “Big Bill” Haywood


Safety and working conditions
Safety and Working Conditions

  • Identify – In what year did the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire take place?

  • Cause and Effect – Why were so many people killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?

  • Analyze – What are some possible reasons business leaders resisted government regulations?

  • Predict – If 500,000 people suffered industrial accidents today, what might happen to that industry as a result?


Safety and working conditions1
Safety and Working Conditions

  • Compare – How do capitalism and socialism differ?

  • Identify Cause and Effect – What was the effect of Lochner v. New York on employers?


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