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Grand Rapids in 1856

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Eight-Hour Day

Eight-Hour Day

GRHC - August 29th, 2012

Grand Rapids passed a resolution introducing the eight-hour day for all those employed by the city in 1867, one year before the federal government enacted the Eight Hour Law.


The Eight Hour Law enacted on June 25, 1868 stated that eight hours shall constitute a day’s work for all laborers, workmen and mechanics now employed or who may be hereafter employed by or on behalf of the United States government.

Grand Rapids had acted a year earlier than the federal government. A resolution introduced in the Common Council by Alderman Harry H. Ives was adopted on May 21, 1867. It declared eight hours labor a legal day’s work for all those in the employ of the city.

One year later, just days before the federal government enacted the Eight Hour Law, a proposal introduced by Ald. Luce repealed the city’s eight hour day. It passed by a vote of 5 to 4.

By 1886 a national movement was afoot for the eight-hour day, with no reduction in pay. National strikes were planned for May 1st in most industrial cities. Chicago experienced days of brutal strike and anti-strike activity reported in all the local newspapers.

Grand Rapids workers were nonviolent, but their demands were the same. Laborers and craftsmen at the major furniture factories walked out. Some railroad workers walked, as did 35 girls at the Felt Boot Co. who demanded eight hours and a 5% raise.

The walkout ended with the promise of an eight-hour day, but no pay increase. The Felt Boot girls held out longest, but eventually returned to work without additional wages.



Full Details

TitleEight-Hour Day
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; labor; eight-hour day
Pubdate StringAugust 29th, 2012

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