Adamson Eight-Hour Act 39 Stat. 721 (1916)
ADAMSON EIGHT-HOUR ACT 39 Stat. 721 (1916)
In 1916 major railway unions demanded an eight-hour working day and extra pay for overtime work. The railroads' refusal prompted a union call for a nationwide general strike. President woodrow wilson, fearing disastrous consequences, appealed to Congress for legislation to avert the strike and to protect "the life and interests of the nation." The Adamson Act mandated an eight-hour day for railroad workers engaged in interstate commerce. The act also established a commission to report on the law's operation. Pending that report, the act prohibited reduction in pay rates for the shorter workday. Overtime would be recompensed at regular wages, not time and a half. Congress effectively constituted itself a labor arbitrator and vested its award with the force of law. The Supreme Court rejected the argument that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in wilson v. new (1917), sustaining the act. The Court distinguished lochner v. new york (1905) by asserting that the Adamson Act did no more than supplement the rights of the contracting parties; the act did not interfere with the freedom of contract.