Labor and the War
The changes that affected business and industry during the war automatically affected labor. A labor historian described the war situation when he wrote:
It immediately became apparent to our government that production of materials must be stimulated and even new sources of supply created; … To attain these ends, moreover, it was clear that there must be unprecedented reorganization of industry, seeming if not actual violation of cherished constitutional rights and guaranties [sic], and the abandonment of our traditional policy of laissez-faire.
As a consequence, the writer suggested that for labor, "it is much easier to think of the period of the World War in terms of revolution rather than evolution." 1 As we shall see, the word revolution may be too easily used here: changes in government labor policy, as in so many others, took time in coming and were not always " revolutionary" in their approach. But the wartime change did not stop with government policy or industrial organization: the "unguided" changes brought about by the pressures of war themselves affected the workers' bargaining position, working conditions, and wage levels; they also altered conditions outside of the workplace in terms of the workers' physical situation, housing, and general welfare. Even the composition and distribution of the labor force was changed, as