The Legacy Of Francis Perkins

When Frances Perkins was a little girl, she asked her parents why nice people could be poor. Her father told her not to worry about those things, and that poor people were poor because they were lazy and drank. Eventually, she went to Mount Holyoke College, and majored in physics. In her final semester, she took a class in American economic history and toured the mills along the Connecticut River to see working conditions. She was horrified. Eventually, instead of teaching until she married, she earned a masters degree in social work from Columbia University. In 1910, Perkins became Executive Secretary of the New York City Consumers League. She campaigned for sanitary regulations for bakeries, fire protection for factories, and legislation to limit the working hours for women and children in factories to 54 hours per week. She worked mainly in New York State’s capital, Albany. Here, she made friends with politicians, and learned how to lobby.

On March 25th, 1911, Frances was having tea with friends when they heard fire engines. They ran to see what was happening, and witnessed one of the worst workplace disasters in US history. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was devastating, killing 146 people, mostly young women and girls. Frances watched as fire escapes collapsed and fireman ladders couldn’t reach the women trapped by the flames. She watched 47 workers leap to their deaths from the 8th and 9th floors.

Poignantly, just a year before these same women and girls had fought for and won the 54 hour work week and other benefits that Frances had championed. These women weren’t just tragic victims, they were heroes of the labor force. Frances at that moment resolved to make sure their deaths meant something.

A committee to study reforms in safety in factories was formed, and Perkins became the secretary. The group took on not only fire safety, but all other health issues they could think of. Perkins, by that time a respected expert witness, helped draft the most comprehensive set of laws regarding workplace health and safety in the country. Other states started copying New York’s new laws to protect workers.

Perkins continued to work in New York for decades, until she was asked by President Elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 to serve as Secretary of Labor. She told him only if he agreed with her goals: 40-hour work week, minimum wage, unemployment and worker’s compensation, abolition of child labor, federal aid to the states for unemployment, Social Security, a revitalized federal employment service, and universal health insurance. He agreed. Similar to what she had worked for in New York, her successes became the New Deal, and changed the country and its workers forever.

So while you may not know her name, you certainly know her legac

Author: GreatCosmicMothersUnited

I have joined with many parents affected with the surreal , yet accepted issue of child abuse via Pathogenic Parenting / Domestic abuse. As a survivor of Domestic Abuse, denial abounded that 3 sons were not affected. In my desire to be family to those who have found me lacking . As a survivor of psychiatric abuse, therapist who abused also and toxic prescribed medications took me to hell on earth with few moments of heaven. I will share my life, my experiences and my studies and research.. I will talk to small circles and I will council ; as targeted parents , grandparents , aunts , uncles etc. , are denied contact with a child for reasons that serve the abuser ...further abusing the child. I grasp the trauma and I have looked at the lost connection to a higher power.. I grasp when one is accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like discrimination.. Shame and affluence silences a lot of facts , truths that have been labeled "negative". It is about liberation of the soul from projections of a alienator , and abuser ..

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