Interesting History: National Labor Union Demands Eight-Hour Workday

By | August 14th, 2017 | News

Over 150 years ago, a newly organized National Labor Union (NLU) was launched to persuade Congress to mandate an eight-hour workday. The organization was a pioneer coalition of skilled and unskilled workers, farmers, and reformers geared toward creating pressure on Congress to enact labor reforms that would ultimately change the American political and economic system. NLU failed to pressure Congress to shorten the workday; however its efforts heightened public awareness of labor issues and increased public support for labor reform in the 1870s and 1880s.

Although some jurisdictions limit the workday to eight hours before an employer must pay a penalty (overtime), federal law is still more flexible. In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), limiting the total number of hours an employee could work in a week to 44.  The FLSA was subsequently amended to limit the workweek to 40 hours

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