New Deal Labor Policy and the American Industrial Economy

By Stanley Vittoz | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Both General Motors and the United States Steel Corporation settled with union labor early in 1937 for compelling economic reasons, not when business was bad but as it was getting better. There has been no lack of speculation since as to the possible implications of this timing, particularly among analysts for whom recognition of the UAW and SWOC by these two corporate giants appeared to signal the beginning of a more advanced phase in the routinization of conflictual behavior in the American industrial economy. But if a rough-hewn Weberian view of such developments is perhaps not completely without foundation, the actual dynamics of change to which it alludes were at best still being manifest in a radically haphazard fashion, with an outcome that in the late 1930s was entirely unpredictable. In the short run, certainly, the arguably more "rational," accommodative capitalist posture toward labor was no match for the contradictions and pitfalls of industrial economics, and especially for the tremendous setback of 1937-38, when the collapse of the trend toward recovery once again allowed the most virulent forms of antiunionism to rise to the fore. This situation eventually was relieved not by an ideological revitalization of corporatism, or even so much by the continuous reinforcement of a new legal framework more favorable to unions, as by the fortuitous circumstances of war. 1

With the exception of U.S. Rubber's recognition of the United Rubber Workers at the corporation's central facility in Detroit late in the summer of 1937, the only significant instance of a major industrial employer acceding peacefully to the demands of labor after the onset of the "Roosevelt recession" came in the form of Gerard Swope's long-awaited national agreement with the United Electrical Workers (UE), which took effect officially on I April 1938. By that time, however, even though Swope personally might still lay claim to a genuinely pioneering "corporatist" approach to the basic problems of business, the level of dramatic excitement accompanying the compact was greatly diminished because the CIO had already won a series of momentous concessions from other, far less "liberal," industrial employers. And however one may wish to judge that point, it is also worth noting for the sake of perspective


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
New Deal Labor Policy and the American Industrial Economy


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 241

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?