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Figures You Should Know: Frances Perkins

For the many people out there who appreciate the eight-hour work day, there is one person who you should thank - and who also had a birthday on Sunday, so a belated "happy birthday" might be in order. If you are unfamiliar with this particular, hard working, often forgotten figure, you are looking at non-other than Frances Perkins.

Frances Perkins was a strong and a seriously ambitious woman in her day. Apart from receiving her Bachelors in chemistry and physics, her future would find her as the first female to hold a cabinet position under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Moreover, she held the position as Secretary of Labor - for 12 years to be exact.

So what did Francis Perkins do under her time as Secretary of Labor? Well, remember the New Deal? Perkins was the driving force behind this reform. Known as the Wagner Act, it gave workers the right to form unions, bargain collectively and additionally, brought forth the Fair Labor Standards Act, giving American workers a model of the minimum wage and maximum work week.

Perkins had previously been at the forefront of union organizing, championing for fair wages and safety regulations well before her time under Roosevelt. She was respected by many politicians and was a master of deal making and negotiating in the tough political arena.

To add to her resume, she also chaired the Committee on Economic Security and during her time as chair, formed the Social Security Act. Talk about caring for the average American worker.

Frances Perkins, we salute you.

The people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.

- Frances Perkins




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