Thursday, April 14, 2016

Minimum Wage's Sordid Beginnings

Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times detailing the motivations for starting a minimum wage in this country a hundred or so years ago. It wasn't as noble an idea as some would like to think:

"Progressive labor activists took a very different view 100 years ago, when 15 states established America's first minimum wages. Labor reformers then believed that a legal minimum would hand a raise to deserving white Anglo-Saxon men, and a pink slip to their undeserving competitors: “racially undesirable” immigrants, the mentally and physically disabled, and women. The original progressives hailed minimum-wage-caused job losses among these groups as a positive benefit to the U.S. economy and to Anglo-Saxon racial integrity."

That sort of thinking extended to women, too: 

"In the case of women, the minimum wage argument was subtler than the eugenic hysteria directed at immigrants and the disabled. Rather, it was couched in the paternalism of protecting women's health and virtue. In reality, labor reformers wanted to protect employment from women as much as they wanted to protect women from employment. Women made up 21% of the U.S. workforce in 1910 and reformers like Florence Kelley, who led the campaign for minimum wages, accused them of undercutting male breadwinners entitled to a “family wage.

Who'da thunk?

2 Comments:

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kind of like The Bacon Davis act was passed to keep cheaper black labor out of New York in the 30's.

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Sally Sheffield said...

It is sad that they thought that way 100 years ago. Let's hope the young people have learned from the past.

 

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