Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 8:27 am
Credit Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
So I was looking through an old Census report and I found a chapter entitled "Children in Gainful Occupations."
Turns out, about 1 million children age 10 to 15 were working in America in 1920 (out of a total population of 12 million kids in that age range). About half worked on family farms. The rest did everything else, working in factories, trained as apprentices, and served as messengers.
For many full-time employees in the United States, the five-day work week, paid overtime and holidays are expected benefits. This wasn't always so, and many workers' benefits today are the achievements of labor unions.
Just five decades ago, unions were on the frontline of the fight for the rights and wages of the middle class. But today, unions are on the decline.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
We'll begin this program with the aftermath of Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin. Public sector unions took on Republican Governor Scott Walker, and the governor won. Walker became the first U.S. governor to beat back a recall attempt. The unions had spent a lot time, money and political capital in Wisconsin.
NPR's Sonari Glinton reports on what's next for organized labor.
The Wisconsin recall election might have failed, but it succeeded in sending an ominous message to pro-labor forces across the nation — especially in the Midwest, where a handful of legislatures are pushing to roll back collective bargaining and other union rights.
The vote against Republican Gov. Scott Walker was prompted by his support for a law limiting collective bargaining for some public sector employees. His victory Tuesday night could embolden governors in states such as Ohio, Indiana and Missouri to push back harder on labor rights.
Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.
Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.
Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.