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 9

Always Democracy
The Consumers'
League in the
Post-New Deal
Era

The Great Depression produced changes that aided the NCL program but forced the league itself to operate in a new milieu. By 1939 the Consumers' League found itself in an environment quite different from the one that had given birth to the organization forty years earlier. Tremendous growth in the American government included significant expansion of state and national labor agencies. The Supreme Court's revolution in interpretation of the Constitution had given legal legitimacy to labor unions and to regulation of working conditions and standards. Social movements of ordinary people—workers, the unemployed, women, African Americans—helped produce these changes and also contributed to a realignment of political forces within the major parties. The newly powerful labor movement was more hospitable to female and minority workers than ever before. Although the NCL welcomed these developments (and had contributed to them), the creation of new divisions in the U. S. Department of Labor and the emergence of the CIO meant that the league now shared leadership in the labor standards field. Also, as we have seen, the achievement of national wage-hour regulation for both sexes with the FLSA attracted a new breed of bu

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