Child Labor Laws

  • Unions Condemn Child Labor

    The New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and Other Workingmen resolve that “Children should not be allowed to labor in the factories from morning till night, without any time for healthy recreation and mental culture,” for it “endangers their . . . well-being and health”
  • First state child labor law

    Massachusetts requires children under 15 working in factories to attend school at least 3 months/year
  • Early trade unions propose state minimum age laws

    Union members at the National Trades’ Union Convention make the first formal, public proposal recommending that states establish minimum ages for factory work
  • States begin limiting children’s work days

    Massachusetts limits children’s work days to 10 hours; other states soon pass similar laws—but most of these laws are not consistently enforced
  • Labor movement urges minimum age law

    Working Men’s Party proposes banning the employment of children under the age of 14
  • AFL supports state minimum age laws

    The first national convention of the American Federation of Labor passes a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment
  • New York unions win state reform

    Led by Samuel Gompers, the New York labor movement successfully sponsors legislation prohibiting cigar making in tenements, where thousands of young children work in the trade
  • Democrats adopt union recommendations

    Democratic Party adopts platform plank based on union recommendations to ban factory employment for children under 15
  • National Child Labor Committee forms

    Aggressive national campaign for federal child labor law reform begins