Struggle of Workers during the Great Depression



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Struggle of Workers during the Great Depression

The mobilization of the Great War between the East and the West marked the era of Franklin Roosevelt. The war created fear and depression on its wake and it was during this time that the economic status of America was reborn. The encounters provided in the book, The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945: A Brief History with Documents, concerning the history of the great depression engages and captivates the reader as they try to comprehend the complexities presented the war and the struggle of the worker in the various industries during that trying period. Roosevelt being the leader of this epic era in history is depicted as an individual with many roles to play. They range from commander in chief of the armed forces, reformer, the ultimate ruler of America and a policy maker (Polenberg 5). Within the book, there are concepts brought forth on the nature of the struggle the workers faced and the necessary policies and laws that ere enacted to counteract the struggle.

In the comparison of the struggles experienced by the industrial, agricultural and artistic workers, the best approach is to evaluate them independently which will enable one to draw out similar and conflicting factors about this issue. The first main issue addressed relating to the workers was their economic security status. In the industrial sector, there were several policies changes. The first change was the establishment of the National Labor Relations Board. It was permanently implemented with the aim of curbing the ongoing strife, which had been observed(Polenberg 72). The role was to ensure improvement of the existing businesses through fairness and amicable dealing (Polenberg 72). The next change was the passing and enactment of the “The Social Security Act”. The insurance was supposed to offer aid to the unemployable fraction of the citizens, which included the women, children and visual impaired individuals. It was also passed as a policy as it ensured that able men and women who were out of work could also receive assistance during the unemployment period. There were old pensions schemes developed meant for the retired workers to be able to sustain themselves during their older years. To cut the story short, the policy had more benefits for the unemployed offering them a means to sustain themselves. However, the main question was the federal government demanding more collection as compared to the benefits offered in the pension plans. This was an issue that would arise if the competitive industries in the nation were levied higher that those less competitive. The only solution was to be uniformity of the state policies for the entire workforce in different industries.

The second issue was of a more seclusive nature. It presented the struggle faced by the agricultural industry workers. The Social Security Act failed to cover the farmers working in the agricultural industry leading to a great struggle in terms of sustainability and the joining of the different classes of farmers. The population making up this faction was the immigrants. The issue was first put forth by John Steinback whose focus was the immigrant farm workers in the state of California. In the recent times, developments in the farming industry more focused on are vegetables and fruits compared to hay and livestock that were once the principle products (Polenberg 72). The change in the nature of farming had prompted more immigrants be hired as the recent products were seasonal and required truck farming resulting to more labor and equipment. Given that rise in investments of large farmers, it was clear there was demarcation between two farming classes. Due to the lack of a common ground between these two groups, there were disparities between them. The large-scale farmers form part of the Associated Farmers of California, which gave them an upper hand in influencing the policies made in the as the regards the industry to their own advantage secluding the interests of the small-scale farmers whose numbers has also increased. They have thwarted all the efforts made to organize the farmers from all social classes by publicly distributing media that link these activities to communism. Due to lack of an organized farmers’ association, which would cater to the needs of these farmers, ensuring the salaries were equalized and the formation of policies ensured their social security, they were left out to face the greater struggle that included badgering, tormenting and hurt filled lifestyle. As equals to the established farmers, they were also entitled to a decent life (Polenberg 84).

The Federal relief was another issue that was prompted by the stance Steinbeck had taken on the seclusion of the immigrants for the Social Security Act and the conditions they were forced to live owing to the fact they were not native and the famine in their place of origin (Polenberg 88). The move was made by Harry Hopkins after reviewing the publication of Steinbeck. Being the director of Works Progress Administration, he formed a strong front on the issue of hunger and firmly defended the New Deal relief policies, which increased the relief given to American citizens and immigrant who are unable to afford necessities. The evaluation of the relief rolls showing the number of citizens under the relief program gave birth to the federal theatre project. These depicted that the increasing fraction of the unemployed theater professionals affected both the economic depression rendering the entertainment industries destitute (Polenberg 90). The project was created as an effort to conserve the artistic culture of the country which would be lost if the talent of these individuals would remain untapped (Polenberg 91). They were offered remunerations from the congress as an incentive to motivate them to delve more into the entertainment and theatre industry thus restoring the culture of the nation. This was seen as an end of their struggle in seeking employment in a period were economic crisis was the order.

The problems faced by both the agricultural and theatre workers were fundamentally similar as both diminished the living standards of the workers. The only difference was that the theatre professionals’ atleast had a means of support through the unemployment period as they were under “The Social Security Act”, but both fields experienced problems in terms of working conditions and getting the necessary attention from the Federal Government.

Works Cited

Polenberg, Richard. The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. Print.

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