September 6, 2021
Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, firstname.lastname@example.org, (412) 945-3242
Washington, DC—The National Consumers League was in the forefront of improving conditions for workers at the turn of the 20th Century. In the 1880s in the United States, many American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories, bakeries and mines across the country, earning a fraction of adult wages. NCL’s Florence Kelley wrote some of the key labor protections we take for granted now – the first minimum wage laws, maximum hours laws, and child labor protection laws.
For example, NCL was instrumental in the Supreme Court case of Muller vs Oregon in 1908, which set the first maximum hours laws for workers in the United States, applying only to women at the time but expanding later to include men.
Labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, also grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.
In the wake of this massive unrest and the maiming and murder of striking workers in many trades, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. We celebrate Labor Day each year to remember the working men and women – and children – who struggled to achieve labor rights and protections and continue to do so today.
Public approval of unions is at 68 percent, including 77 percent of young people. It is with that backdrop that NCL once again calls on Congress to enact three critically important bills:
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA), and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act; these laws will strengthen labor laws and give workers greater opportunities to organize and form unions, protecting the most vulnerable in our labor force
“Decades of industry lobbying have made it increasingly difficult for workers to organize,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Employers enjoy unprecedented and unfair advantages during union organizing drives, which has led to far fewer opportunities for workers to make their voices heard in the workplace. NCL supports these bills to protect the right to organize and democracy in the workplace for America’s workers.”
About the National Consumers League