The Ten Hour Movement
In the Lowell mills during the 1840's, mill workers worked a typical work day of 14 hours long. Standing for fourteen hours a day, six days a week, breathing cotton dust, the girls complained about low wages, varicose veins, long hours, lack of opportunity for education, and generally being treated like slaves.
The Ten Hour Movement began in 1844 as mill girls were asked to sign a petition to pressure the mills to change to a ten hour work day. Many feared that if they signed a petition calling for a ten-hour day, they would be fired and blacklisted from working at any mill. By 1845, a 130 foot long scroll with 4,500 names on it was sent to the government. The Ten-Hour Movement petition was not passed at that time. In 1874, the law was passed, but girls were not working in the mills any more. Immigrants had taken their places.


Source: http://www.berwickacademy.org/millgirls/ten_hour.htm