Civil Rights in the United States

By Alison Reppy | Go to book overview
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Chapter VII
LABOR AND THE CONSTITUTION

THE New Deal came into power largely as a result of the votes of labor, and as a result labor was able to realize upon many of its objectives in the form of protective legislation. Indeed, the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraged and even cultivated the growth of unionism on a scale never before witnessed in American history. Labor was not slow in seizing upon this opportunity and it soon developed weapons and practices for achieving objectives which had proven unattainable in the long and frustrating struggle of earlier years. This development was in a measure symbolized by the exceedingly liberal provisions of the Wagner Act. The spirit of change in the economic relationships of capital and labor which were introduced by the rapid and sweeping advances made by organized labor made necessary legal adjustments on a grand scale. It was inevitable that as the pendulum swung more and more in favor of labor that friction should arise. Legal controversies thus created found their way into the courts and presented a great variety of issues for judicial arbitrament. At the top of our judicial system stood the Supreme Court which sought to construe the new legislation in such a way as to satisfy labor and yet meet the demands of an industrial society. The courts sought to preserve the gains of labor while at the same time maintaining a balanced scale in the broad interest of social stability. This was substantially the situation when World War II broke out, and during this period of national peril, many thought that labor was guilty of grave excesses and many doubtful practices. These were resented by the men in arms as well as by some who remained at home. Hence, a demand sprang up for restrictive legislation, which took such forms as the legislation call

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