This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
It is highly important that the purchaser should know of conditions which attend the laborers engaged in the preparation of fibers, the manufacture of fabrics, and wearing apparel, so that they may aid the growing endeavor to better these conditions through investigation, the enactment and enforcement of laws, and the education of the individual buyer.
With the passing of the clothing industries from the home, women have been forced to follow these into the factory, and not only the women, but children, have also been forced to engage in factory labor, an evil outgrowth of which has been the overcrowding and huddling of the many, in badly lighted, poorly ventilated tenement houses, where long hours, little pay and ill health are the common lot of all. Some of the evils are these: (1) crowded factories; (2) unprotected machinery, causing accidents; (3) buildings, mere fire-traps; (4) bad sanitary conditions; (5) long hours; (6) child labor. Eager to cheapen the cost of production, manufacturers have also given out work from the factories to be done in the homes, and this without regard to the conditions under which the work is carried on. Many of the industries are carried on in such ways as follow, - people that are old and feeble, others sick and distressed, and little children, mere babies, are at work in dingy rooms, ill-fed, dull, and hopeless. Such conditions exist, but much has been done to correct them; legislation has followed on the footsteps of investigation, as pleas for better conditions have been made. Some states have passed laws regulating the number of hours per day women may work in the factories. School attendance has been made compulsory; children are not allowed to work in stores or factories until fourteen years of age. On the other hand, factory owners and heads of department stores have been led to provide good lunch and rest rooms, also club rooms, seats behind the counters for employees, and generally good sanitary conditions, throughout their establishments. Much has been done in the direction of this betterment through the efforts of the National Consumers' League, an organization of women whose endeavor has been toward the improvement of the working and living conditions of women's garment makers especially. They have made investigations, secured legislation and now grant to the manufacturer who meets the requirements of the League the right to use the label of the League, which assures the buyer that the articles purchased have been made under healthful conditions, in factories conforming to child labor and other laws. This League publishes a White List containing the names of those manufacturers who conform to law. It becomes, then, the duty of the consumer to inquire whether goods bearing the Consumers' League label are available in her community, because if her demand becomes one of many, by law of economics, the supply must be made to meet the demand; then labor conditions will be more generally reformed.