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The Great Depression

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Jarod Roll

on 5 April 2016

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Transcript of The Great Depression

The Great Depression

HIS 318
Dr. Roll

GNP, 1929-1933: down 29%
Ag. prices down 60%
Industrial production down 50%
Construction down 78%
Steel at 12% capacity in 1932
7 million in 1930
15 million in 1932
Hoover's approach:
No direct government aid to people
Cooperation with big business not to cut payroll
AFL passive
--strike activity fell nationwide 1929 and 1930
--union membership continued to fall
--only proposed solution, shorter workweek
--neutral in 1932 presidential election
Some state efforts to respond:
--Wisconsin passed Labor Bill of Rights and unemployment insurance
--New York: Emergency Relief Administration
Communist Party filled the void:
--Trade Union Unity League: industrial union strateg
--Momentum in the South: Gastonia, NC; Harlan County, KY; Alabama
--National Miners Union, Alabama Sharecroppers' Union
--organizing irrespective of race, gender, skill, or region
--Unemployed Councils
Shaw, on ASU: "First thing the organization wanted for the colored people was the privilege to have a organization" (on importance of ASU, p. 298-305)
Norris-LaGuardia Act (1932)
--outlawed yellow-dog contract
--no federal injunctions in labor disputes
--Hoover signed it
FDR, Democratic Party win 1932 election
--New Deal, emphasis on consumer spending power
--Frances Perkins, Sec. of Labor, first female cabinet member: "Department FOR Labor and we should render a service to the working people"
Robert Wagner, Senate (NY-D) and John L. Lewis (UMW): both argue that government should guarantee right to organize, join unions
National Industrial Recovery Act (1933):
--waived anti-trust limitations
--allowed industries to set up codes of competition to avoid cut-throat competition, but also establish minimum wages and maximum hours
Paragraph 7(A): "the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing" free of employer interference
--labor unions would enforce the wage and hour terms of the NIRA, also the best way to boost earnings of workers and thus boost consumption
William Green, head of the AFL, called it: "charter of industrial freedom"
Lewis: "the President wants you to join a labor union"
1.5 million workers joined AFL unions between June and October 1933 (bringing it up to 4 million total)
Consumerist idea radicalized the "American standard of living" -- new demand of working classes
Full transcript