The Great Depression

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How did organized labor fare during the Great Depression? 

Organized labor fared fairly well during the Great Depression as the government passed policies to protect workers during this period of high unemployment. Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt helped guarantee workers' rights to unionize and strike, and the National Labor Relations Board was established to uphold these new regulations.

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The Great Depression gave a great boost to organized labor. Starting with President Hoover, legislation was passed to increase workers' rights to organize and unionize. The Norris–La Guardia Act of 1932, under Hoover, increased the rights of organized labor, and, notably, outlawed what were called yellow-dog employment contracts that forbade...

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The Great Depression gave a great boost to organized labor. Starting with President Hoover, legislation was passed to increase workers' rights to organize and unionize. The Norris–La Guardia Act of 1932, under Hoover, increased the rights of organized labor, and, notably, outlawed what were called yellow-dog employment contracts that forbade employees to join unions.

When Roosevelt came to office, he also attempted successfully to give more power to organized labor. First came the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which made forming a union legal and made it illegal for employers to block unions or refuse to bargain with them. This act was meant to help workers at a time of high unemployment in which many workers were accepting starvation wages rather than have no job at all.

This act was deemed unconstitutional in 1935, but it was quickly replaced by the National Labor Relation Act of 1935 which guaranteed the rights of workers to unionize, engage in collective bargaining, and go on strike. The National Labor Relations Boards was also established in 1935 to enforce these labor rights.

The Great Depression was a time of unrest with economic collapse, hardship, and the rise of communism in the Soviet Unionwhich lead many to question whether capitalism was the best economic system for the common person. Improving the lot of labor was one important way the capitalist system re-calibrated itself to become fairer and stave off possible revolution.

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