In February, President Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers. With minimum wage increases being debated in 24 states, Obama is also calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers — even as the CBO estimates that such a move could cost the economy 500,000 jobs. On this episode of BackStory, we’re exploring the history of American thinking about wage work. We’ll hear how the early colonies shifted away from indentured servitude, and toward racially-based slavery. We’ll tell the story of a struggle between free and imprisoned workers in 1890s Tennessee. And we’ll explore the surprising origins of minimum wage legislation — and why early 20th century feminists cheered its demise.
Listen and learn more here.