Explain in detail the War Industries Board and the War Labor Board

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Created in 1918, The War Industries Board was

...charged with the duty of procuring an adequate flow of materials for the great war-making agencies of the Government-the War and Navy Departments-and for the two.agencies in immediate affiliation with these military arms--the Emergency Fleet Corporation and the Railroad Administra­tion.

The WIB encouraged the use of mass-production in order to quickly and efficiently supply the war effort, such as arranging for the expeditious shipment of materials. While organizing this massive industry of production for the war, the WIB also sought to protect those industries that were not needed in the war effort, ensuring that, although they may be reduced in production, they would be maintained so that after the war, they could resume regular their business. And, after production, the Board was organized to assure the free flow of these materials to their destinations. In this flow of materials, there was also the exchange of them with allies for other materials needed by the U.S.

In addition, the WIB was set up to handle and encourage the avoidance of labor disputes or anything else that might prohibit smooth production. First of all, psychological testing was performed on potential employees so that they would be placed in the most appropriate jobs for them. The avoidance of labor disputes was paramount; therefore, the Board averted stoppage of production with mediation and wage increases, if necessary.

Finally, and of paramount importance, the Board, in alliance with the Food, Fuel, and Labor Administrations, provides for the country's civilian needs, the protection of which is a particular duty of the organization.

While the WIB organized and oversaw production of war materials and their transportation, it also was organized to ensure the continued well-being of American civilians.


With the importance of ensuring the smooth and swift production of war materials foremost, President Wilson created a federal agency, the War Labor Board, whose sole purpose was to ensure the reliability and production of the working force. (This WLB was terminated after WWI)

Although the Labor Board's primary purpose was the avoidance of the disruption of production by labor strikes, it also supported equal pay for women, an eight-hour work day, and the right to union organization and collective bargaining.

After the WLB was ended after the first World War, another labor board, the National War Labor Board was established by President Roosevelt in 1942 during WWII. This Board was a three-part body that dealt with specific industries, labor-management disputes, and wage control for industries essential to war efforts such as shipping, railways, automobile manufacturing, mining, airlines, and telegraphs.