Friday, March 12, 2010

Frances Perkins: The Woman Behind the New Deal

Inspired by my reading a great biography of Francis Perkins
The Woman Behind the New Deal:The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience, by Kirstin Downey
Perkins worked closely with our Fourth Ward's Al Smith in the investigation of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. 1919, Smith, the new governor of New York, appointed Perkins to the Industrial Board. She became chairman of the board in 1924 and while in this post she managed to obtain a reduction in the working week for women to 54 hours.
from wikipedia
Frances Perkins (born Fannie Coralie Davies, (April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965) was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As a loyal supporter of her friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition. She and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes were the only original members of the Roosevelt cabinet who remained in offices for his entire presidency.
During her term as Secretary of Labor, Perkins championed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With The Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard 40-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service, Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please note: She was born Fannie Coralie Perkins, not Davies. Here's a screenshot of her birth certificate: