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Made in Chicago: The eight-hour work day previous 9 of 18 next

The eight-hour work day The labor movement failed in its effort to reduce the average work day from eleven to eight hours at the same pay in 1886. But workers' widespread, vigorous uprisings in that tumultuous year -- centered in Chicago -- made May Day an international workers' holiday, and brought labor's grievances to a worldwide audience.

A strike at the McCormick Reaper Works led to violence at Haymarket Square during an anarchists' demonstration on May 4, 1886. In Haymarket's aftermath, Chicago's business elite clamped down hard, attempting to kill off the eight-hour movement. Still, reformers pressed for workers' rights. In 1893, following her investigation of sweatshop working conditions, Florence Kelley succeeded in convincing Illinois to mandate an eight-hour day for women and children workers, and ban children under 14 from the workforce.

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