Progressives wanted to end both industrialist exploitation and avoid strikes that usually ensued violence. The Triangle- Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911 shed light on capitalist exploitation and the lack of government concern in the plight of workers. Progressives created cross-class coalitions that overshadowed party lines creating solutions to problems that affected the nation. The photographic investigation work of Lewis Hines brought images and stories of the lives of injured Pittsburgh workers which made people face the plight of disabled workers who relied on charity for their survival. Hine’s convinced many states to establish worker compensation programs. In 1898 the Supreme Court upheld and eight-hour work day for Utah Miners a ruling that guarded the health of workers engaged in a dangerous occupation served the public interest. In 1908 the case of Mueller Vs. Oregon was a key case to the regulation of work hours. The Supreme Court upheld maximum hour laws for female worker. These victories did not protect all workers. The 1905 Lochner Vs. New York the Supreme Court ruled that government could not block an employee’s freedom to negotiate his own work schedule with his employer. The court also applied this principal to child labor. In 1917 Supreme Court sided with a father that contested the Child labor law, introduced in 1916 by President Wilson, deprived him of his parental right to control his sons labor unconstitutional. Although, the law was deemed unconstitutional and the nationwide campaign to ban child labor failed, it was later adopted in in the 1930’s. These are key cases and regulations that led to the government regulations of workers’ hours, federal minimum wage, and child labor laws.
Industrialists and capitalists believe in the Laissez-faire approach, which believe government should put no restraints on business. I do not agree with this Laissez-faire approach and side with the Progressive ideals that social justice is more important than individual self-interest. I believe we have all benefited from the progressive era’s government regulations. We are all protected by the government agency such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Due to the photographic investigation into the plight of disabled workers many states were persuaded to support worker compensation programs which helped pave the way to help ensure companies provided safer work environments for their workers. These reforms put more legal liabilities on companies and helped standardize labor laws such as the federal minimum wage, regulated work hours, and child labor laws. These laws helped curb the exploitation of workers. Even with government regulations there is a continued process of exploitation. Many businesses will still avoid regulations and punish workers. Such as in the case of Morgan Vs. Mueller when women laundry workers were legally granted ten-hour work days by the Supreme Court, Mueller fired his women workers and hired Chinese men. This attitude still exists in which companies will hire foreign workers for cheaper labor, and the wage gap that still exists between men and women. Theses exploitation still exists and are also pushed abroad to foreign sweat shops and child labor camps. Even with government regulations there are still “loopholes” to the system.