Economic Justice for All: Some Jersey Roots

Dorothy Sue Cobble

Abstract


New Jersey has often stood at the forefront of movements for social and economic justice. This talk analyzes twentieth-century legislative campaigns for wage and hour fairness and foregrounds the leadership of social justice feminists, including New Jersey Congresswoman Mary T. Norton. The laws secured by reformers fell short of their lofty aims of economic justice for all. Nevertheless, the reforms they enacted --fair labor standards and mothers' pension laws in the majority of states before World War I and the federal Social Security Act and first nationwide Fair Labor Standards Act in the 1930s -- offered considerable benefits to millions of low-income breadwinners and caregivers. The talk concludes by bringing the story into the present and highlighting three vibrant New Jersey campaigns for just wages and fair time policies. In 2008, New Jersey became the third state in the nation to pass paid family leave legislation; in 2013, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a higher state minimum wage; and as of 2016 New Jersey leads the nation in the number of cities and municipalities signing paid sick leave ordinances.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/njs.v2i2.45

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