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Federal Government Efforts to Regulate Minimum Wages, Maximum Hours, and Oppressive Child Labor before The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

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VLibrary.info Logo1840: "The first attempt legally to regulate the working hours of men in the United States was the executive order of President Van Buren in 1840, stipulating a ten-hour day in government navy-yards." [Principles of labor legislation, by John R. Commons and John B. Andrews. New York ; London : Harper and Brothers., 1920. Page 248]

VLibrary.info Logo1868: Congress provided that "eight hours shall constitute a day's work for all laborers, workment, and mechanics who may be employed by or on bahalf of the government of the United States." [United States, Revised Statutes, 1878, Title 43, Sec. 3738. See United States Commissioner of Labor, Second Special Report, 1896.]

VLibrary.info LogoMay 8, 1895: The New York Bakeshop Act of 1895 set some sanitation standards for bakeries and provided that they could not employ their workers for more than 60 hours in any one week

VLibrary.info LogoFebruary 28, 1898: In Holden v. Hardy, 69 U.S. 366, the Supreme Court approved a Utah law regulating the hours of labor for men working in mines.

VLibrary.info LogoApril 17, 1905: Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45. The Supreme Court ruled that The New York Bakeshop Act of 1895 was unconstitutional because of the provisions limiting the number of hours an employee could work. "Clean and wholesome bread does not depend upon whether the baker works but ten hours per day or only sixty hours a week. The limitation of the hours of labor does not come within the police power on that ground."

VLibrary.info Logo1906: Senator Albert J. Beveridge, Indiana, introduced a bill banning the sale of products from any factory, shop, or cannery that employed children under the age of 14, from any mine that employed children under the age of 16, and from any facility that had children under the age of 16 work at night or for more than 8 hours during the day.

VLibrary.info Logo1907: "Excessive hours having been recognized as a factor in railroad accidents, both state and federal legislation was passed to change the situation. In 1907, by a law applicable to workers on interstate railroads, Congress set 16 as the maximum number of hours to be worked in one day and provided for adequate rest periods. (34 Stat. 1415 (1907), 45 U. S. C. 61 (1935)) [Regulation of Wages and Hours Prior to 1938, by Frank T. De Vyver. Page 325]

VLibrary.info LogoFebruary 24, 1908: Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412. The Supreme Court ruled that legislation limiting the hours of work for women did not violate the constitution, "even when like legislation is not necessary for men and could not be sustained."

VLibrary.info Logo1912: A bill limiting the hours of work for women and children in New York factories to 54 hours a week was passed through the efforts of Frances Perkins, at that time a lobbyist for the National Consumer's League.

VLibrary.info Logo1916: The Keating–Owen Child Labor Act of 1916, based on the 1906 child labor proposed bill by Senator Albert J. Beveridge, banned the sale of products from any factory, shop, or cannery that employed children under the age of 14, from any mine that employed children under the age of 16, and from any facility that had children under the age of 16 work at night or for more than 8 hours during the day. The Keating-Owen Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

VLibrary.info Logo1916: "In 1916, at the insistence of President Wilson who sought to avert a strike, Congress provided for a basic 8-hour day for railroad trainmen with no reduction in wages. (39 Stat. 721 (1916), 45 U. S. C. 65 (1935). [Regulation of Wages and Hours Prior to 1938, by Frank T. De Vyver, page 325]

VLibrary.info LogoApril 9, 1917: Bunting v. Oregon, 243 U.S. 426. The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional an Oregon law requiring payment of "overtime at the rate of time and one-half of the regular wage" to employees of mills, factories, and manaufacturing establishments.

VLibrary.info LogoJune 3, 1918: Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U.S. 251. The Supreme Court declared the Keating-Owen Child Labor bill unconstitutional. This decision was overruled by United States v. Darby Lumber Co.

VLibrary.info LogoSeptember 19, 1918: Congress approved the District of Columbia minimum-wage law (40 Stat. 960) guaranteeing a minimum wage to women and children employed in the District of Columbia.

VLibrary.info LogoDecember 1918: Child Labor Tax Law, passed as part of the Revenue Act of 1919, imposed a federal excise tax of 10% on annual net profits of those employers who used child labor in certain businesses.

VLibrary.info LogoMay 15, 1922: Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U.S. 20. The Supreme Court ruled the 1919 Child Labor Tax Law unconstitutional as an improper attempt by Congress to penalize employers using child labor.

VLibrary.info LogoApril 9, 1923: Adkins v. Children's Hospital, 261 U.S. 525. The Supreme Court ruled that the 1918 District of Columbia Minimum Wage Act, establishing a federal minimum wage for women and children employed in the District of Columbia, was an unconstitutional infringement of liberty of contract.

VLibrary.info LogoAugust 10, 1933: President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6246, requiring government contractors to comply with codes of fair competition issued under the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). This became moot when the Supreme Court struck down the NIRA in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935).

VLibrary.info LogoMay 27, 1935: Schechter Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495. The Supreme Court declared that the National Recovery Act was unconstitutional.

VLibrary.info LogoJune 1, 1936: Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo, 298 U.S. 587. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of minimum wage legislation enacted by the State of Washington.

VLibrary.info LogoJune 30, 1936: The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) (41 USC 6501-6511) passed. It established minimum wage, maximum hours, and safety and health standards for work on contracts in excess of $15,000 for the manufacturing or furnishing of materials, supplies, articles, or equipment to the U.S. government or the District of Columbia. All provisions of the PCA are administered by the Wage and Hour Division except the safety and health requirements, which are administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

VLibrary.info LogoFebruary 5, 1937: President Franklin Roosevelt unveiled the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, which is generally referred to as the "court-packing plan"

VLibrary.info LogoMarch 29, 1937: West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (1937), The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of minimum wage legislation enacted by the State of Washington.

VLibrary.info LogoMay 24, 1937: The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1937 was introduced in Congress as S. 2475 in the Senate, and H.R. 7200 in the House of Representatives.

VLibrary.info LogoJune 25, 1938: The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) was passed by Congress and signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

VLibrary.info LogoOctober 24, 1938: The Fair Labor Standards Act went into effect.