Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Photos of Me and My Grandson Nathaniel Breaking the Labor Law of 1918..Actaully a Living history program at Pioneer Tunnel.
HOW SCHUYLKILL COUNTY ANTHRACITE MINERS FELT ABOUT THE CHILD LABOR LAW
On May 3. 1918 the Child Labor Bill passed. Gov. Brambaugh won his fight on the Cox Child Labor Bill.
The bill as it stood on the 28th provides that no minor between 14 and 16 years shall be permitted to work more than 51 hours a week or more than nine hours a day. Such children shall also be compelled to go to a vocational school at least eight hours each week, the time they spend in such school to be counted in the 51 hours.
Here in the coal region the bill was not liked.
On April 25th , 1918 the Pottsville Republican ran an article entitiled:
MINERS OPPOSE THE CHILD LABOR MEASURE.
It has been erroneously spread through the state that the miners of the anthracite region are favorable to the new child labor law which has been introduced at the behest of Governour Brumbaugh, and that they are using their influence to have it enacted. The truth of the matter is the miners are bitterly opposed to the law because it will have the effect of robbing their children of all forms of employment until they reach the age of 16 years. They will not be permitted to have their boys do any work of any kind around the mine or breaker until they have reached the age of 16. Many of them are satisfied for their own individual preferences to have this condition exist but they recognize that it is going to work a fearful hardship on the widows and families of their comrades who have been killed in the mines and who have left a family to support itself in the best way it can find. They know by contact and actual experience with their neighbors in these mining towns that the new law will have the effect of breaking up the family of almost every mineworker who was killed in the mines or who has passed away from other causes.
Around the small mining town there is absolutely no work to be found except in or around the breakers and mines. The occupations are usually not too laborious and are not harmful as is attested by the fact that many of the richest, brainiest and most able men of the coal region today are men who worked in the breakers and mines when they were boys under the age of that provided by the new child labor law.
It is true the miners do favor the eight hour day for the boy, but they also know that it is an economic impossibility to have the working day restricted for the boy at the colliery as long as the other employees are obliged to work more than eight hours. They favor an eight hour workday for everyone, but an eight hour day for boys while the collieries or mills work longer hours will simply have the effect of driving away employment from every boy under 16 years of age.
There is much resentment being expressed everywhere because of the undue influence of the governor being exerted to force this measure through against the best thoughts of the members of the legislature and the citizens of practical experience throughout the state. It is going to work a hardship everywhere, and it is felt that members of the legislature should be left to act according to the wishes of its constituents without having this executive influence held over their heads, which may rob them of all the prerogatives unless they act in accordance with the wishes of the governor.
While the child labor law was not amended at the committee hearing last week, it is probable that amendment will be made to it before it is reported out of the committee this week. It is probable that a vote on the measure