In the late 1800 and early 1900s, the Progressive Era began which was a time of making or attempting change in the workplace. People of the middle class, primarily, wanted a new way of looking at things that would improve the lives of everyone. This era was sparked by Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that left women trapped in a factory and forced to jump to their death to escape the fire. This made people fight for what they deserved in the workplace through regulation.
Unfortunately, regulation of the workplace was an easy task as many big business owners saw their workers sort of like property. They felt that they could pay them what they pleased and work them as hard and long as they wanted. This was not right, but people feared to rebel because rebelling meant getting fired, getting fired meant that businesses would talk to each other and you wouldn’t find anywhere else to work. This was called the blacklisting.
However, as new presidents came into office, such as Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson, they began to put laws into place that broke the trusts of big businesses that were taking over the economy. Big businesses began to kill small businesses and that wasn’t what America was supposed to be about. The main thing introduced to stop this was the Sherman Antitrust Act which was put into place to prevent monopolies. This act was used many times to bring big businesses to court since it was being violated.
Also, women and children began to play a bigger role during the Progressive Era. Women were fighting for suffrage because they were being overworked in factories, but had no way to change it because they didn’t have a voice. With the ability to vote, women would have some say in their work life which would regulate what business could and couldn’t make them do. Women needed shorter work days to be able to provide for their child and make good offspring. Children at this time were also used in factories as they were small and could be easily taken advantage of. This caused many child labor laws to be put into place during this time because children were getting injured or even killed between the ages of 10-16 working in dangerous factories.
Without the government being able to set hours laws, regulate safety, prohibit child labor, set a minimum wage, and institute other work laws, businesses would still be mistreating their employees. The people of America would be overworked and not be making the amount of money that they should be. We can see this in how illegal immigrants are treated when they get jobs under the table nowadays. They work from sunrise to sunset and are paid well under what an American citizen would be payed. The government is able to control this for a reason and that is because without them controlling it there would be no control. Without the government stepping in during this era, it is possible that it could still be like it was back then and the economy would most likely be destroyed by now.
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume2, 3rded. 2019.