First U.S. minimum wage law

The industrial revolution and its effects in the U.S. followed a predictable worldwide pattern: Stateside, as elsewhere in the world, workers fed up with exploitative labor conditions went on strikes, with violent clashes accompanied by bitter recriminations on both sides. British-controlled Australia and New Zealand were the first countries to adopt a minimum wage standard to address some of the worst excesses in the labor practices. In the United States, that honor fell to the state Massachusetts.

On this day, June 4, in 1912, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law calling for the establishment of committees to determine a fair living wage for women.

The MA law took a step towards ending the discrimination against women in wage setting, but it was far from a comprehensive minimum wage law. The following year, Oregon passed the nation’s first minimum wage requirement, setting a floor of $8.25 for women.