On March 4, 1933, Frances Perkins became the first woman in the U.S. Cabinet. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Perkins championed the New Deal and left a legacy that continues to benefit working people today.
In 1911, Perkins was a side walk witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire which claimed more than 70 lives, many of them young immigrant women. She later recounted the profound impact of that event and of watching as workers jumped from the building to escape the flames. The rest of her life was spent fighting for workers rights.
The New Deal began on March, 25 1911. The day that the Triangle factory burned.Frances Perkins
She led the Department of Labor for 12 years, paving the way for the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. These developments cemented the 8-hour day/40-hour work week, the abolishment of child labor, the right to organize and collectively bargain, and the right to strike.
March is Women’s History Month and it is only fitting that we begin by highlighting the incredible contributions of Frances Perkins to American workers. Read more of her bio here.