Taking a look back: Child Labor
There was a time in America at the height of industrialization when children worked long hours in factories, in coal mines, or just about anywhere where physical labor was needed in manufacturing. Injuries, abuse and exploitation were common. Many child workers were robbed of their childhoods. It took the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to stop the practice of hiring minors in most industries, although there is still work to be done as thousands of children still toil for long hours in the agriculture industry.
Preventing the return of child labor is one of the many protections unions provide today. Without unions looking out for the rights of children, and all workers, some employers would quickly return to the cruel practice of exploiting our country’s youth for profits. When parents belong to a union, they help prevent child labor as well. Because they can negotiate fair wages and benefits and provide for their families, they have less financial pressure to turn to their children for income.
Union strength protects all family members – those who are working and those who shouldn’t be.