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The outbreak of World War I changed the power balance between business and organized labor. Supplies of new labor from Europe virtually dried up, the war fueled an economic boom, and the federal government expanded its role in the economy. Many AFL unions took advantage of the situation by calling strikes to gain union recognition, leading President Wilson to support the right of unions to exist and bargain collectively in exchange for a no-strike pledge. To insure a smooth flow of production and secure the loyalty of workers in the face of the many socialist critics of the war, government officials, with the acquiescence of major corporate leaders, instituted a National War Labor Board in 1918 to mediate corporate/union conflicts. Composed of corporate and trade union leaders, it was co-chaired by former President Taft and Frank P. Walsh, the intrepid investigator who had served as chair of the recently disbanded Commission on Industrial Relations. AFL membership increased from two million in 1916 to 3.2 million in 1919, mostly in unions that had existed since 1897, with the ten largest national unions accounting for nearly half the increase (Dubofsky and Dulles 2004, p. 191). While all this was going on, anti-war dissenters from radical unions and the Socialist Party were put in jail.
Based on this lobbying, the provisions banning all employee representation plans were removed from the draft legislation in late March. Let's count this as a small victory for the Rockefeller industrial relations network. Thus, this series of events suggests that Teagle and Swope still had some leverage with Wagner, especially when it is added that amendments to the Railway Labor Act in 1934 banned company unions. But Teagle and Swope obviously did not have the clout to bring about all the changes they wanted. In any case their partial success proved to be unnecessary. At the moment when Wagner was making the requested changes, Roosevelt intervened in a conflict between the National Labor Board and the automobile industry over unionization that put an end to their concerns for the time being. As part of his decision to move jurisdiction over automobile companies to a separate labor board, he rejected the principle of majority rule. It seemed to be a clear concession to the du Ponts and General Motors, and it was a great disappointment to liberals and union leaders. Roosevelt's decision meant that company unions could flourish alongside trade unions, thereby undercutting serious negotiations by employers with independent unionists (Gross 1974, pp. 61-62). If there had been any hope of restraining anti-union employers, this decision by Roosevelt seemed to kill it, at least for the time being.
describe the struggle between big business and labor …
At the BAC's first general meeting in Washington on June 26, 1933, ten days after the NRA itself was created, the NRA director asked Teagle to chair the NRA's Industrial Advisory Board, which drew the majority of its members from the BAC as well (McQuaid 1979, p. 685-686). Teagle brought Hicks, his recently retired industrial relations vice-president at Standard Oil of New Jersey, to join him in Washington as his personal assistant. (At this point Hicks was paid about $98,500 a year as a personal consultant to Rockefeller, in addition to his $163,500 a year pension from Standard Oil of New Jersey -- both those figures are in terms of 2012 dollars). Teagle, along with Swope and other business executives, then spent the summer of 1933 overseeing the development of the NRA. In short, the overlap between the corporate community, the Rockefeller industrial relations network, and the NRA was very extensive. This seems to be even more the case when it is added that other top businesspeople came to Washington to serve the NRA as "presidential industrial advisers" on temporary loan from their corporations. In other words, and this conclusion will rankle those who see the American government as independent of "big business," the corporate community was subsidizing, staffing, and building a new state agency. Moreover, it was happening at the very time that the corporate community supposedly had lost power and legitimacy, according to the modern-day experts that rule the academic roost when it comes to the understanding of the alleged ups and downs of corporate power (Finegold and Skocpol 1995; Hacker and Pierson 2002; Hacker and Pierson 2004; Hacker and Pierson 2010)}
Disruption or no disruption, Wagner was determined to continue his work towards legislation that would give workers the right to unions and collective bargaining. His revised version of the National Labor Relations Act, introduced in February of 1935, benefitted greatly from the experience of the temporary board appointed by Roosevelt in the summer of 1934. The new version also may have had more legitimacy with political leaders through Biddle's numerous speeches to business groups and middle-class voluntary associations across the country about the proposed legislation's sensible approach based in long experience and many legal precedents (Biddle 1962). With Biddle and other board members overseeing their efforts, the key provisions in the act came from the board's legal staff, led by former Harvard Law School professor Calvert Magruder (Gross 1974). Wagner's only staff member at the time, Leon Keyserling, a 24-year-old Columbia law school graduate, then put these ideas into traditional legislative language (Casebeer 1987). Keyserling is often given too much credit for the substance of the act, which he gladly accepted, but that's a separate story. However, from my point of view, the credit he is given is further evidence about how little some authors really know about the origins of the act; it shows they have not bothered to read the definitive work on the matter by James A. Gross (1974) decades ago.
Describe the struggle between big business ..
Over and beyond the applied work by the IRC employees, Rockefeller and his aides started industrial relations institutes at major universities in order to develop the expertise needed to bring about harmonious labor relations. The first grant supported a new Department of Industrial Relations within the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, chaired by Joseph Willits, who became involved in the work of the Social Science Research Council (which received most of its funding from Rockefeller foundations) shortly thereafter. In 1939 he was appointed director of the Rockefeller Foundation's Division of Social Sciences (Fisher 1993, pp. 54-55, 121, 183). Their second initiative involved the formation of an Industrial Relations Section in the Department of Economics at Princeton, starting with direct overtures from Rockefeller and Fosdick. (Fosdick was a graduate of Princeton, John D. Rockefeller 3rd was then a student there). This project was developed under the guidance of Hicks from his post at Standard Oil of New Jersey. Shortly thereafter, industrial relations institutes were created at several other universities, including MIT, the University of Michigan, and Stanford, and in the late 1930s another one was developed at the California Institute of Technology (Gitelman 1984, p. 24).
Third, the legislation passed because of the newly developed electoral cohesion between the native-born craft workers and predominantly immigrant and African American industrial workers in the northern working class, who began to vote together for Democrats in the late 1920s, helping to overcome the divisions that had existed since at least the 1880s (e.g., Mink 1986; Voss 1993). Many of them also worked together in an effort to create industrial unions in heavy industry and almost all of them supported union leaders and liberal elected officials in their efforts on behalf of the National Labor Relations Act. The AFL leaders had some reservations about the act because they knew it would put them at the mercy of labor board decisions on voting procedures and on the determination of the size of bargaining units, but they backed the act even though none of their suggested amendments to the proposed legislation was incorporated (Tomlins 1985, pp. 139-140).
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Business v. Labor and the Role of Government | HTI
Once King's employment status was settled, he proceeded to acquaint Rockefeller with the basic tenets of welfare capitalism and convince him to foster "employee representation plans," whereby workers within a plant could elect their own representatives to talk with management periodically on company time about their grievances. This plan was based on the theory that there is a potential "harmony of interests" between the social classes if employers and workers begin to think of each other as human beings working together on a common endeavor that had mutual, although admittedly differential, rewards. The stress was on "human relations" in industry. According to most analysts, employee representation plans, called "company unions" by their critics, were designed as a way to avoid industry-wide labor unions, although Rockefeller and virtually everyone who ever worked for him always insisted otherwise.
Labor and the Role of Government
Most fatefully in terms of the development of American labor relations, the Rockefellers owned Colorado Fuel & Iron, a mining company, with Rockefeller serving as a member of its board of directors, along with two or three of his personal employees. The company and Rockefeller became infamous because they played the central role in a prolonged and deadly labor dispute in 1913-1914, which came to be known as the Ludlow Massacre, after 20 people died in a daylong battle between the Colorado National Guard and striking miners. The total included ten women and two children. They burned to death after machine gun fire ignited the makeshift tent city in which they were living after being evicted from company housing by the company management. More generally, at least 66 people died in the open warfare between labor and mine operators in Colorado between May and September of 1914; the violence only ended when President Wilson sent Federal troops to the area (Zieger and Gall 2002, p. 23). Rockefeller's reaction to this disaster reshaped corporate-moderate policy thinking about labor relations over the next 15 years, and unlikely as it may sound at this juncture in the story, had a direct impact on labor policy in the early New Deal.
relationship between big business, organized labor and ..
The arguments about inflation between the White House and the liberal-labor alliance were paralleled by similar debates within the aforementioned Committee for Economic Development, which is an ideal window into the mindset of corporate moderates. Established in 1942 by members of the Business Advisory Council, its primary focus was an effort to create conservative policies that would be good enough to guard against the return of depression-era economic conditions after World War II. Moreover, it was the most accessible, research-oriented, and transparent of several moderate policy-discussion organizations. Its published policy statements, along with its letters and memos in archives, reveal how corporate moderates dealt with ultraconservatives, the liberal-labor alliance, and government officials in its years of significant influence, from the 1940s to the early 1980s. Usually called the CED, its official policy statements are especially useful because they included memoranda of comment, reservation, or outright dissent that were crafted by individual trustees, and then sometimes joined by other trustees, which makes it possible to ascertain the nature and size of dissident coalitions within the moderate camp on specific issues.
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