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The Great Depression and the New Deal :. LABOR. By: Drew Keyes. Background. This time period was between 1932-1933, two of the worst years of the Great Depression. During this period, as I will further explain unemployment rises to a booming 23%. Approximately 10,000 banks had failed.

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This time period was between 1932-1933, two of the worst years of the Great Depression.

During this period, as I will further explain unemployment rises to a booming 23%.

Approximately 10,000 banks had failed.

Over 13 million Americans had lost their jobs.

FDR easily beats Hoover in the fall election, and Democrats gain control over Congress.

With Roosevelt in office, the U.S goes of the Gold Standard.

The wealth from rich to poor is attempted to be redistributed.


Labor: work, usually hard physical work.

  • During some of the worst years of the Depression, Americans workers struggled for the rights of labor.
  • When FDR was elected, the Government and courts began to look in favor of the appeals of labor.
  • Considering the limited power of federal courts over strikes and other actions towards labor.
  • At this time, management resisted unionization vigorously.
  • Many employers refused to recognize unions and actually hired armed thugs to intimidate workers and be used as inforcers.
  • Employers tried to replace striking workers with strikebreakers and tried to keep strikebreakers from crossing their pickett lines.
  • Because employers refused to negotiate with union representatives.
  • Numerous strikes had taken place and often these situations resulted in violence where local police took precautions.
  • Workers pushed the Roosevelt administration for support
  • In 1935, the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act surfaced.
  • This Act outlawed many “Unfair labor pracctices”.
  • Including, firing workers who joined unions, prohibited management from sponsoring company unions, and required employers to bargain with Labor’s elected union representatives to set wages, hours, and conditions.
national labor relations act
National Labor Relations Act
  • The National Labor (Wagner) Act guaranteed workers the right to organize unions and to bargain collectively, outlawing “unfair labor practices”.
  • The Wagner Act was very successful and created a mechanism for enforcement: the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
  • Although, the conflict of Labor-Management still continued by the end of the decade the NLRB played a major role which mediated disputes.
  • The Wagner Act further alienated business leaders from the new Deal
  • The Liberty League insisted the Supreme Court find the Wagner Act unconstitutional.
  • Conflict not only existed in Labor Management but as well as, the Labor Movement itself.
  • Creating a rivalry between craft and industrial unions.
  • Craft Unions, represented labor’s elite, or the skilled workers in one particular trade.
  • Industrial Unions, represented all the workers, skilled or unskilled, in a given industry.
craft unions
Craft Unions
  • Dominated the American Federation of Labor (AFL)
  • The powerful umbrella organization for specific unions
  • Most leaders offered little support for industrial organizing, and many looked down on the industrial unionists
industrial unions
Industrial Unions
  • With a great mass of Industrial workers, they had completely different economic interest then the “skilled worers”
  • They were made up of about everyone else, so theres not to much to say.
sit down strikes
Sit-Down Strikes
  • Sit-Down strikes, referred to as the most decisive labor conflict of the decade, coming in 1936.
  • United Auto Workers (AUW), was an industrial union, that demanded recognition from GM, Chrysler, and Ford. Three of the most prominent car dealers then and still to this day.
  • The first occurring on December 30, 1936, had workers at the Fisher Body plant in Flint, Michigan in which had workers on strike in the Fisher One Factory.
  • Refusing to leave the building, it immobilized a key part of the GM production system.
  • Something I found interesting, was as Police forces tried tear gasses, workers turned of water hoses.
memorial day massacre
Memorial Day Massacre
  • On Memorial Day 1937, a group of picnicking workers and their families marched toward the republic Steel plant in Chicago. This showed support for strikers on a picket line in front of the plant.
  • Police forces showed up, blocked their route and ordered for them to disperse. One marcher had a bright idea to throw something at a Policeman, and the police attacked.