In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.
"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."
This week, we've been looking back at the legacy of the "War on Poverty," launched by Lyndon Johnson 50 years ago. The arsenal included government programs such as Head Start, food stamps and a push to increase the nation's minimum wage.
"We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power," Johnson said.
Low-wage workers actually saw their purchasing power peak while Johnson was in office. Adjusting for inflation, minimum wage workers earn less today than they did in the late 1960s.
Trish Gallagher holds a sign for passing motorists to read during a demonstration in support of a higher minimum wage near a Burger King in Boston on Dec. 5. Massachusetts is one of several states considering a minimum wage ballot measure.
You never know where you might find a volunteer with a clipboard looking for signatures trying to get a voter referendum on the local ballot – like Ed Flanagan in the town of North Pole, Alaska.
"I'm out in what's called the North Pole transfer station. This facility has about 50 metal dumpsters arranged in a fenced area. Folks back up and throw their household trash in there. This is a very busy place," he says.
Skycap Biniyam Yehuala hefts a traveler's bag at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. On Tuesday, voters in SeaTac, Wash., approved a minimum wage of $15 an hour for roughly 6,300 low wage workers' whose jobs are at or near the airport.
Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 6:20 pm
On many economic issues, Americans are deeply divided. But when it comes to giving pay raises to minimum wage workers, voters overwhelmingly say: Do it.
That message jumped out Tuesday when more than 6 in 10 voters in New Jersey approved an increase in their state's minimum hourly wage. In January, the wage will rise to $8.25, well above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.