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A Progress Organised Labour

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To what extent were the 1920's and 1930's the most important period of progress for organised labour in the USA from 1865-1945?

The period 1865-1945 showed clear progress for organised labour due to the fact that during this there was two world wars whereby employers focused on the war effort and dint want production stopped by strikes as well as the change in president from Herbert Hoover to Franklin Roosevelt who introduced new acts like the NRA that gave the workers improved labour rights.

To some extent the 1920's and 1930's were the most important period of progress for organised labour because during this period Franklin Roosevelt became president of the Unites State of America in 1932 and was given 100 days to implement reform that would drastically reduce unemployment figures. The high unemployment was a direct result of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 whereby America's 'prosperity bubble' was burst when share prices fell dramatically, the result of this was many companies going out of business and millions of workers becoming unemployed and destitute. Roosevelt had to deal with unemployment as well as the industrial unrest which was dealt with through passing a series of acts, specifically the National Labour Relation Act and the National Recovery Administration which are important in the improvement of organised labour because the NRA developed 'codes of practice' regarding wages, working hours etc. which gave workers improved rights specifically the right to organise trade unions and participate in collective bargaining. These acts gave workers improved rights at work and also it shows the progression of organised labour through the NRA however certain employers such as Henry Ford refused to agree to the NRA's changes and it was deemed unconstitutional in 1935.

The American economy during the 1920's was thriving and it had massive impacts on employers which translated into improvements for workers and organised labour. After the First World War America's economy was incredibly successful and growing rapidly, within this new production methods meant that new technological goods were being mass produced and therefore workers noticed a steady rise in wages. The USA was in a sustained period of economic growth and workers noticed an improvement to their labour rights because power and control was with the employers who started to believe that if their workers were satisfied at work then there would be less use of trade unions and less strike action. The fact that the American Economy was so strong during the 1920's until the Wall Street Crash shows progress for organised labour because employers began to recognise their workers' rights even if it was for the employers gain ensuring that there wasn't strike action etc.

During the 1920's and 1930's progression of organised labour is evidenced through the improved status of African American workers. The BSCP (Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids) was the first trade union that solely represented African American workers as opposed to the AFL and KOL who accepted black workers into the unions however they didn't have the sole aim of achieving labour rights for black workers. The BCSP was the first African American trade union to be officially recognised and in 1937 the BSCP signed a collective bargaining agreement with the Pullman Company. The fact that African American workers were being represented by a trade union shows the progress of organised labour as prior to the 1920's very few black workers had their labour rights represented and the labours that did accept black workers only represented what the majority of its members wanted such as fair pay and eight hour days whereas the BCSP recognised the discrimination of African American labour. The leader of the BCSP, A Phillip Randolph was key to the BCSP's success because he organised the majority of black Pullman workers into a successful trade union and led them through strike action until the trade union was officially recognised in 1935.

However during the period 1895-1945 there are other instances of progress for organised labour than between 1920-1930 that arguably had a greater impact on the progression of organised labour. The First World War resulted in progress for organised labour because when America joined the war in 1917 all sectors of industry focused on the war effort. The benefited the workers because

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