Civilizing Capitalism: The National Consumers' League, Women's Activism, and Labor Standards in the New Deal Era

By Landon R. Y. Storrs | Go to book overview

chapter 6

Agents of the New Deal
Consumers'
League Women
Campaign
in Virginia,
South Carolina,
and Kentucky

The demise of the National Recovery Administration in mid-1935 left southern workers with a body of state labor laws that had improved little since 1931, when Mason documented their inadequacy in Standards for Workers in Southern Industry. NCL surveys indicated that many employers were responding to the termination of NRA codes by cutting wages and lengthening hours. In late 1935 the Consumers' League pledged its meager resources to an all-out southern offensive that included, in addition to Mason's ongoing regionwide work, specific legislative drives in carefully targeted states. The NCL board relieved Mason of all other responsibilities so that she could focus on the South. The board also agreed to fund this activity from the NCL budget, instead of requiring Mason's southern work to pay for itself through lecture fees and fund-raising. With league finances in a more precarious state than ever, this was a major commitment by the NCL board. 1

Before long Mason was reporting, "How little the members of my own board realize conditions in the South and what one is up against in organizing a group or creating public opinion! I wish some of them could work in this field for a week or two—it would be

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