1. Equal value to receive equal pay regardless of sex.
2. No saleswoman over eighteen years of age to receive less than $6.00 a week.
3. Wages paid by the week.
4. Minimum payment to each child $2.50 per week.
8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Three-fourths hour for noonday lunch, one half holiday per week during two summer months. Vacation of one summer week on pay. All overtime compensated. Wages paid and premises closed for five legal holidays.
Lunch and retiring rooms apart. Sanitary conditions. Seats for saleswomen.
Humane treatment of employees.
Length of service compensated.
No children under fourteen years employed.
No children under sixteen years employed for more than nine hours per day.
These children from fourteen to sixteen years shall have employment certificates from Board of Health.
All city ordinances and state laws must be obeyed.
The League wishes to make it a good advertisement for a store to be on the White List or to carry a large stock of Consumers' League labeled goods. It is hoped that people will buy at the stores which are so advanced.
If the public would learn to demand these things the manufacturers would soon come up to the requirements.
Although the list of factories and stores complying with all the requirements of the Consumers' League seems small, it grows year by year, and there are many other concerns which fail to meet the requirements only in small ways.
One of the requirements of the League, which excludes many stores from its White List, is in regard to uncompensated overtime at the Christmas season. "Only the long, slow process of public education will remove the custom whereby thousands of young girls and women are compelled every holiday season to give their employers from thirty to forty hours of uncompensated labor." Much literature has been published advocating early Christmas and early afternoon shopping. These appeals in the papers, by posters and by many other means have brought about a little more thoughtfulness in these matters.
Investigation into the working and living conditions of women in factories has led to many results. A strong body of women has been formed who demand legislation and have succeeded in obtaining it. The development of legislation regulating the number of hours of work for women has been most encouraging since the Supreme Court of the United States, in 1908, asserted the right of states to limit the hours of labor. In Oregon, Illinois, and Michigan there have been epoch-making decisions in cases where the law limiting hours of labor was declared unconstitutional by a lower court and the decision reversed by the Supreme Court. These decisions have paved the way for similar laws in other states.
At present one of the most important investigations carried on by the Consumers' League is in relation to the minimum wage problem. The work of the special committee "has been directed toward two ends: (1) Agreement upon a legislative program adapted to the peculiar American conditions; (2) publicity for the proposal to establish minimum wage boards."
The limits of this chapter do not permit a longer discussion of the far-reaching work of this organization. Full reports and articles may be obtained from other sources.
The National Child Labor Committee, organized in New York in 1904 by a number of representative citizens from different parts of the country, is a force which is making itself felt in child labor legislation. This committee investigates facts regarding child labor, endeavors to raise the standard of public opinion and parental responsibility, and assists in protecting children by suitable legislation.
It is now practically agreed that a humane child labor law shall provide the following:
A fourteen years limit, below which children are not to be employed.
Regulation of work of children below sixteen years, including:
Prohibition of night work, Shortening of hours by day,
Protection against dangerous machinery and unsanitary or immoral conditions.
There should also be compulsory school requirements, and there is necessity for inspection and enforcement of these laws. A few states have reached this high standard; most have not.
In April, 1912, Congress passed an act creating a Federal Child Bureau which shall collect statistics regarding children and conduct a thorough study of all sorts of child problems. From this center information will be disseminated to all who need it. The National Child Labor Committee worked very hard for this bill.
With the growth of the public health movement additional agencies are working for an enlightened attitude toward many great national problems. The study of preventive medicine has led to housing reforms, better sanitary conditions in public buildings of all kinds, the abolition of the public drinking cup, and the investigation of water supplies. The great need is for education in order that the public may come to know that these things must be. The slowness of legislatures in passing laws merely reflects the attitude of the people as a whole. Long and tireless effort must be put forth by the enlightened men and women of the country in the future as it has been in the past. New ways of spreading information are ever arising, more and more scientific methods of investigating and solving these great problems are appearing as the thoughtful men and women of the country give their lives to the cause of race improvement. It is no longer a question of charity, to ease one's conscience, or even for the sake of the poor alone. The problem of the less fortunate becomes the problem of the whole nation.
United States Bureau of Labor. Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage Earners in the United States. 1910 National Consumers' League Reports. Supplements to Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science on National Consumers' League. Child Workers of the Nation.