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The main gains that were made by the working class during this era came in the form of new governmental protections that were meant to prevent some of the worst abuses of the previous years. These abuses were brought to the public's attention by the muckrakers and this attention helped lead to government intervention.
For example, early in the Progressive Era, Theodore Roosevelt introduced his "Square Deal" for labor. Among other things, he threatened to seize mines when employers would not bargain with miners' unions. This was the first time the government had actually moved to help unions against the employers. As another example, Congress passed a law in 1916 restricting child labor and another one forcing railroads to give their employees 8-hour days with extra pay if they had to work overtime.
Governmental interventions like these helped improve the lives of the working class during the Progressive Era.
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