During the last decade of the nineteenth century, the American labor movement began focusing on working hours. Unions organized mass strikes, participated in electoral campaigns, and commenced legislative initiatives to further their goals. In New York, the Journeymen Bakers’ Union lobbied to secure favorable legislation for bakers; primarily to cap the number of hours a baker could work per day and week. Bakers were typically paid by the day, but believed they were not fully compensated for the length of their days or the health risks associated with their constant exposure to flour dust, gas fumes, dampness, and extreme heat and cold. The bakers’ campaign was successful. In May 1895, the New York Governor signed into law the “Bakeshop Act.”
In Lochner v. New York, the Supreme Court declared the core provision of the Bakeshop Act unconstitutional.