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Statement by the President Upon Signing the Fair Labor Standards Amendments.

October 26, 1949

I HAVE today signed H.R. 5856, the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1949, the major effect of which is to raise the minimum wage under the original 1938 act, as previously amended, from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour.

It is particularly gratifying to me to sign this bill during the week which marks the 11th anniversary of the effective date of the original Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. This act has proved to be wise and progressive remedial legislation for the welfare not only of our wage earners but of our whole economy.

Upon its effective date, 90 days after its enactment, this amendatory act will:

1. Require every employer to pay to each of his employees who is engaged in commerce, or in the production of goods for commerce, wages at a rate of not less than 75 cents an hour. This provision will mean direct wage increases for approximately 1,500,000 of our wage earners, amounting in most cases to from 5 to 15 cents an hour.

2. Require every employer to refrain from employing any oppressive child labor in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. This provision should result in the virtual elimination of the evil of child labor from our interstate and foreign trade and industry.

3. Enable employees to recover unpaid back wages owed them under the act in suits brought by the administrator on their written request. This should greatly improve the effective enforcement of the law and reduce the amount of unpaid wages owing to employees.

4. Provide a comprehensive definition of the term "regular rate" which is used in the act as the basis for computing the overtime pay an employee must receive when he works more than 40 hours per week. This provision will enable employers and employees to calculate with greater certainty the types of payments that must, and those that need not, be taken into account in determining an employee's regular rate.

5. Encourage the development of plans for employment on an annual basis through collective bargaining by providing greater flexibility in the overtime provisions. These plans assure stability of income for wage earners and stability of operation for employers.

6. Bring within the coverage of the 75-cent minimum wage employees of airlines and those employed in fish and seafood canneries. This is a step in the right direction of broadening the act to bring within its scope more groups of workers.

7. Preserve and strengthen restrictions on industrial homework where necessary to protect the minimum wage.

These provisions are constructive steps of great importance in developing a sound Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

I regret that the new act exempts from its provisions some workers who have been covered heretofore and that it fails to extend coverage to many other groups of workers who need its protection. But the improvements made by the new act will go far toward achieving our basic purpose of assuring minimum labor standards necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.

The enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1949 is a major victory in our fight to promote the general welfare of the people of the United States.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 5856 is Public Law 393 (63 Stat. 910).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Fair Labor Standards Amendments. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230245

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