Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 1897-1916

By Irwin Yellowitz | Go to book overview

V
Organized Labor and the Social Progressives: Areas of Cooperation

THE campaigns for social reform in New York State exhibit no one pattern. Close cooperation among all reform organizations marked some of the battles for legislation, whereas at other times the reformers split among themselves, or opposed the demands of organized labor. The social Progressive societies and the central labor bodies led, prodded, and cajoled the fickle and often indifferent public; and the relations among these reform groups were a significant factor in the final success or failure of any campaign.

One of the major concerns of the social Progressives was child labor. No other issue attracted so much attention, both nationally and at the state level, and by 1916 the reform forces could claim substantial gains. In New York the foundations of child labor legislation had been laid in the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century. By 1900 New York law set a ten-hour day as the maximum for children fourteen to sixteen years of age; prohibited children under fourteen from working in factories and stores; and required a minimum attendance of eighty days per year in school.1 The Knights of Labor and philanthropic societies such as The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children took the lead in promoting this legislation.2 However, the nineteenth-century laws on child labor soon proved to be

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1
History of Labor in the United States, Vol. 3, pp. 404-413.

-88-

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