Happy Labor Day!
Gather ’round, kids, because it’s time for our #Spotlight — and this one’s a history lesson, too, all about Frances Perkins!
Perkins was the first woman to be earn a Cabinet position when President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated her for Secretary of Labor on March 4, 1932.
She was no figurehead, either;Perkins ran the show for all twelve years of FDR’s term, working hard to ensure lower class laborers were afforded basic rights and safety during the Great Depression.
Perkins, who was born into a rich family in Massachusetts in 1880, was shocked in college to find out about the conditions in which the poor found themselves in major American cities as they worked in factories and suffered in slums, and she took her desire to help improve conditions all the way to the White House!
She had a long career before her appointment to FDR’s Cabinet, but it was what she did during her stay there that was the most noteworthy: she helped reduce the number of hours worked for women and children to 48, improved factory safety awareness, and demanded wages be raised for those at the bottom.
She was instrumental in creating the Wagner Act, which guaranteed that workers were allowed to unionize and come together for collective bargaining purposes, thereby giving many more workers far more protection and an improved quality of life.
She also helped to craft the Fair Labor Standards Act, which ensured the work week would be only 40 hours for both men and women — which, of course, is still the standard today — and she helped draft the legislation that became the Social Security Act of 1935.
In other words, she did pretty much everything we know and celebrate today as being good for employees and workers, ensuring safety and quality of life for those working in a variety of businesses!
And for that, Secretary Perkins, you are our #Spotlight today! Thanks for your important work!!
[Image via National Archives.]