Today in labor history: Mass. first state to pass minimum wage

On this day in 1912 Massachusetts became the first state to pass a minimum wage law. Though it initially only covered women and children, it paved the way for similar efforts to establish fairness in the workplace.

The commonwealth issued a report that read, “Whenever wages are less than the cost of living and the reasonable provision for maintaining the worker in health, the industry employing her is in receipt of the working energy of a human being at less than its cost, and to that extent is parasitic.”

In 1938 a federal minimum was enacted throughout the USA, with the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA set a 44 hour work week, time and one-half for overtime and prohibited most forms of child labor.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the FLSA the most important labor legislation since the passing of the New Deal.

Today, there is a national movement to raise the federal minimum. Several states and cities aren’t waiting and have already raised the minimum wage there. Much of the fight is led by fast food and Walmart low wage workers.

Image: Wikipedia, public domain.



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