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A Look At The Fair Labor Standards Act

1271 words - 6 pages

In the 1930's the United States was in the throws of a great depression. Unemployment had sky rocketed, and many people were left homeless as a result of this depression. Lines miles long wove down streets as people waited to get free meals because they could not find meaningful employment. Those who did find employment were forced to work for miniscule amounts, and many children were forced to find employment to help out their struggling families. A large majority of those children who did find employment, were forced to work many hours for barely a livable wage.In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt declared that "All but the hopeless reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary ...view middle of the document...

" (Bovard, 1994) Some estimate that as a result of the minimum wage laws that "Teenage workers have greater job losses, relative to their share of the population or the employed work force, than adults." (Bovard 1994)FLSA and UnionsA March 1977 editorial piece from the New York Times chimed that, "Organized labor favors a high minimum wage because that reduces management's resistance to union recruiting. Where cheap alternative sources of labor are eliminated, high-priced union labor no longer looks so bad to a company's managers." The main union players in the birth of the FLSA were the AFL and CIO unions. The AFL was unhappy with the Roosevelt proposal and felt that the bill favored industrial over craft unions, and fought for a substitute bill that call for a 40 cent wage across the board, and a flat 40 hour workweek.Interestingly, the FLSA has it's roots way back in 1900 when the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), began protesting 15 hours workdays, low pay, lack of benefits and unsafe working conditions. In 1909, 20,000 shirtwaist makers consisting mainly of women and children began to strike. Many workers were beaten or fired, but their strike had lasting effects as they won a pay raise and a mandated 52-hour workweek.The sole benefactor of the passing of the FLSA was unions. The passing of the act forced companies to take notice that mass organization of its workers, and the influence it could have on elected officials to protect their rights. Before the great depression, most poor workers made millions for only a handful. As time went on, the FLSA spread from organized labor to practically all American workers.In 1966 Congress extended the coverage of the FLSA to a limited number of public employees, mainly in schools and hospitals. In 1974, Congress extended coverage of the FLSA to all state and local governments. In doing so they declared that public employees should be entitled to the same standards of decency as other workers. Many public employers disagreed and went to court seeking to have FLSA coverage declared unconstitutional. In the 1976 Supreme Court case, National League of Cities v. Usery, the Supreme Court sided with the public employers. The decision was later overturned in 1985. When the Supreme Court ruled in Garcia v. San Antonio Transit Authority, the decision finally guaranteed FLSA protections to all state and local government employees.Current Employment EnvironmentMany public employers still argue that the FLSA has no business in the public...

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