Tag Archives: History

75 Years of 40 Hour Weeks

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the Public Contracts Act of 1936. In the history of America, this is a major event, and one that even today, remains an anathema to conservatives nationwide. That is because the Public Contracts Act of 1936 established the 40-hour work-week in the United States, set minimum ages for workers and even took on a minimum wage.

The Roosevelt-Perkins remedial initiative resulted in the Public Contracts Act of 1936 (Walsh-Healey). The act required most government contractors to adopt an 8-hour day and a 40-hour week, to employ only those over 16 years of age if they were boys or 18 years of age if they were girls, and to pay a “prevailing minimum wage” to be determined by the Secretary of Labor. – U.S. Department of Labor

The Public Contracts act remains the law of the land today.

The significance of June 30th’s bill was the use of the Federal Government’s purchasing power to establish labor standards. It wasn’t about imposing rules on the market by fiat, but rather by using the government’s own purchasing decisions and criteria to lead the market by example. We may recognize this approach in a thousand small things (and big things) done by governments nationwide, today, but it was the Public Contracts Act that began this work as a matter of law.

Today is a keynote anniversary in the history of American progress, and worth noting in some small way.

Utah’s Abandoned History, A Cautionary Tale

An interesting diary up on DailyKos observes the successful campaign of developers in Utah to eliminate the state’s archeologists and anthropologists so no one would notice when Utah’s heritage and history gets bulldozed.

Rood, along with state archaeologist Kevin Jones and physical anthropologist Derinna Kopp, who also lost their jobs Tuesday, stepped into the view of Gov. Gary Herbert, lawmakers and the Utah Transit Authority in recent years when they raised concerns about a proposed commuter rail station planned in Draper. UTA proposed the train stop and mixed-use development on the footprint of an ancient American Indian village, the earliest known location of corn farming in the Great Basin. – DailyKos

Imagine if someone wanted to bulldoze the oldest known site of tobacco farming in Virginia, and you get the level of significance involved in this story. The entire diary is worth reading for the whole tale of government-official interventions, vulgar namecalling, and abandoned skeletons. I’m not kidding, abandoned human skeletons.

Thankfully, I believe that most developers here in Virginia and Loudoun are a bit more respectful of our archeological history. Indeed, many recent developments have specifically included proffers for preservation of local history, though the actual carry-through on those promises has been hit or miss. That being said, Utah’s experience, in which a developer actually wrote the bill eliminating the positions responsible for conserving Utah’s physical history, can and should serve as a cautionary tale reminding us that we must remain vigilant in the protection of our history.