A Cry for Help
It was only during the 1936 presidential elections that the American labor problems attracted nationwide attention. An often-told story was that of a young female factory worker who attempted to hand a note to President Franklin Roosevelt, who was then campaigning for reelection. Although the girl’s attempt was thwarted by one of the closed-in aides, President Roosevelt asked the aide to get the note. The famous note contained a cry for help addressed to the US president, which related how their wages were cut down from $11 a week, down to $4 to $6 per week.
After being reelected back into office, President Roosevelt waged a long and hard battle for the enactment of a minimum wage standards law, which was stirred by the young girl’s note. Aside from the strong opposition coming from different business sectors, the history of American laws have it on record that in 1923, a Supreme Court in Washington D.C. made a ruling against the implementation of minimum wage standards.
Support from Patriotic Americans
Nevertheless, President Roosevelt gained the support from a group of businessmen who manifested their support by committing to pay their workers $12 to $15 minimum weekly work pay for maximum 35 to 40 hours per week. In addition, they vowed not to resort to child labor nor employ anyone under 16 years old. Patriotic American consumers joined the cause by boycotting products of manufacturers who did not have the “badge of honor;" this badge identified products manufactured by businesses who supported the minimum wage movement and the ban against child labor.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court continued to strike out appeals for the implementation of laws recognizing standards for wages on the premise that they hindered the worker’s right to set his own price for his services. However, a glimmer of hope started to shine through when, in 1937, the Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of implementing minimum wage standards for women.
Read on to the next page for the continuation of the minimum wage law history and its victory.