Today in Labor History

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Archive for the tag “child labor”

February 24, 1919


Congress passes a federal Child Labor Tax law that imposes a 10 percent tax on companies that employ children, defined as anyone under the age of 16 working in a mine/quarry or under the age of 14 in a “mill, cannery, workshop, factory, or manufacturing establishment.” The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1922.

February 3, 1941

Feb 3

The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously in United States v. Darby to uphold the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which banned certain types of child labor, established a minimum wage, and set a maximum workweek at 44 hours.

March 12, 1912

lawrence_strike_child_laborThe Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-led “Bread and Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children ends after ten weeks when the American Woolen Company accedes to the workers’ demands. Soon, the rest of the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile companies followed suit and wages were raised for textile workers throughout New England.

April 26, 1924


House Joint Resolution No. 184 (the Child Labor Amendment) is adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, later to be adopted by the Senate on June 2. The amendment – which would grant Congress the power to regulate the labor of children under the age of 18 – is still pending, not having been ratified by the requisite ¾ of the states.

June 12, 2013


Today is World Day Against Child Labour, an annual observance established in 2002 by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) to raise awareness about and activism around the issue of child labor, defined as “work performed by children who are under the minimum age legally specified for that kind of work, or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited.”

September 26, 1874


Sociologist and photographer Lewis Hine is born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  In 1908, Hine became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee and spent the next decade documenting child labor to help the organization’s lobbying efforts to end child labor in American industry.

July 7, 1903


Mary Harris “Mother” Jones begins the “Children’s Crusade.”  Accompanied by child mine and mill workers, she walked from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to President Theodore Roosevelt’s home in New York state to protest the plight of child laborers.

July 3, 1835


More than 2,000 workers—many of whom were children—from 20 textile mills in Paterson, NJ, go on strike demanding shorter working hours (from the 13 1/2-hour days they were working to 11 hours).  Employers refused to negotiate and broke the strike by unilaterally declaring a reduction in work hours to twelve hours daily during the week and nine hours on Saturdays.

June 12, 2002


The International Labour Organization (ILO) establishes the annual World Day Against Child Labour to raise international awareness about and activism to prevent child labor.

June 9, 1865


Librarian, trade union activist, and writer Helen Marot is born in Philadelphia.  Marot’s work investigating child labor in New York led to the enactment of the state’s 1903 Compulsory Education Act.  She served as executive secretary of the New York Women’s Trade Union League and was an advocate for children and women workers throughout her life.

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