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Outside InThe Transnational Circuitry of US History$
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Andrew Preston and Doug Rossinow

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190459840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190459840.001.0001

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White Men’s Wages

White Men’s Wages

The Australian/American Campaign for a Legislated Living Wage

(p.74) 4 White Men’s Wages
Outside In

Marilyn Lake

Oxford University Press

This essay suggests that US proposals for a federal minimum wage, which achieved success in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, emerged in a transnational discourse shaped by the introduction of a compulsory minimum wage in Victoria, Australia in 1896 and the definition of the minimum wage as a “living wage,” owed to workers in their capacity as human beings, by H. B. Higgins, president of the Australian Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Higgins met leading Progressive reformers in Boston, New York, and Washington, in 1914. The essay also notes the importance of the world-historic context of the mobility of Chinese labor in the trans-Pacific world in the nineteenth century that led to the insistence in Australia that “white men’s wages” be protected by a legal minimum wage and associated wages boards.

Keywords:   minimum wage, living wage, progressivism, labor, Australia, United States, transnational

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