Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Celebrating Frances Perkins and Her Commitment to Social Justice

Launch celebration in Washington, D.C. for the new Frances Perkins Center, based at her family homestead in Newcastle, Maine:Celebrating Frances Perkins and Her Commitment to Social Justice

Frances Perkins Center: Honoring and Learning from the First Woman Appointed to a U.S. Cabinet.

Today, as in 1933, the nation faces serious economic uncertainty. As we struggle to find new answers, we look to the example of Frances Perkins, labor secretary during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, for inspiration.

Perkins is best known for creating much of the social safety net that protects the elderly, young and those experiencing hard times. She is credited with creating Social Security, unemployment insurance and the system that became Aid to Dependent Children.

Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor March 4, 1933 to June 30, 1945, was appointed by Roosevelt; was the first woman Cabinet member. Led the battle against the Great Depression: the Wagner-Peyser Act revitalized the U.S. Employment Service, the Fair Labor Standards Act set a floor under wages and a ceiling over hours, the Wagner Act protected workers' right to organize. She established the Labor Standards Bureau. Through effective relationships with the state governments, she strengthened labor law enforcement by the states. She was also the principal architect of the Social Security Act.

New book by Kirstin Downey, The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience,

Department of Labor Headquarters named after Frances Perkins in 1980. Inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame in 1988.

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