On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes nine days after Congress had adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 121 bills. Among these bills was a landmark law in the nation’s social and economic development — the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).

FLSA-turns-80Against a history of judicial opposition, the Depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, after more than a year of Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.

Forty years later, a distinguished news commentator asked incredulously: “My God! 25 cents an hour! Why all the fuss?” President Roosevelt expressed a similar sentiment in a “fireside chat” the night before the signing. He warned: “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day … tell you … that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”

In the 80 years since, the FLSA has been amended by law and interpreted by regulation, especially in regards to minimum wage and overtime.

Read the full background of the FLSA here.