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Report, Flint, Michigan, November 17, 1934

As one investigator said, “The workers in Detroit used to run up debts between employment,–run a rent up for several months, owe a grocery bill for several months and borrow on the furniture. They don’t do that any more. When their money is exhausted they come to relief.” While several men said to me with evident satisfaction that they had no debts, others pointed out that the grocers and landlords no longer feeling so optimistic about the economic possibilities of their debtors will not extend credit as they used to.

An old Ford worker said, “I used to be able to pick up odd jobs such as washing cars. My wife did, too, then. We used to worry along.” A Chevrolet man said “Each year my savings grew lean and less until now I am at rock bottom.” These men are both applying for relief for the first time this Fall. They expect to get jobs by the first of the year if not before.Continue Reading »

Profile of General Motors (1937)

Article written by Samuel Romer, The Nation, 1937. “When sitdown strikes in five General Motors automobile and parts plants resulted in a practical paralysis of production operations and forced direct negotiations between national officers of both the corporation and the union, few of the workers involved realized that they were participating in the first important battle of a civil war which will largely determine the industrial progress of America during the next decade.”Continue Reading »

Detroit Digs In (1937)

Article by Edward Levinson, The Nation, 1937. “General Motors must have known it was making an offer which the union could not consider without inviting a repetition of the collapse of the 1934 strike. While talking peace to Governor Murphy it has thrown up breastworks for a fight to the end.”Continue Reading »

Hill-Billies Come to Detroit (1934)

Article by Louis Adamic, The Nation, 1934. “In recent months, with production increasing, it has been necessary for the companies to bring in tens of thousands of people from outside, principally from the South, and put them to work in the busy plants. For months now the companies have been sending their labor agents to recruit hill-billies from Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama.”Continue Reading »

Why Ford Workers Strike (1933)

Article written by Carl Mydans, The Nation, 1933. “The real object of the strike at the Edgewater, New Jersey, plant of the Ford Motor Car Company was, of course, a wage increase. The workers seized the opportunity, however, to protest against a number of the conditions under which they had been working.” Continue Reading »

What Rural Electrification Administration Means To Our Farm Home: 1939

Article written by Rose Dudley Scearce in Rural Electrification News, 1939. The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created in 1935 by President Roosevelt to promote rural electricity.Continue Reading »

Auto Workers Strike (1933)

Article by Walter Reuther, one of the most prominent labor movement figures of the 20th century, in The Student Outlook, March, 1933. “The challenge to organize the production workers was taken up by the Auto Workers Union, which is organized on a broad industrial basis and is founded on the principle of the class struggle.”Continue Reading »

Exploiting the Child (1934)

An editorial in The Nation, May, 1934. The Child Labor amendment discussed in this entry was proposed in 1924 following rulings by the Supreme Court in 1918 and 1922 that federal laws regulating and taxing goods produced by employees under the ages of 14 and 16 were unconstitutional. By the mid-1930’s the majority of state governments had ratified the amendment; however, according to Article V of the Constitution, three quarters of the states are required to ratify it before it is adopted. The issue became mute when in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act, allowing federal regulation of child labor, was enacted. In 1941, the Supreme Court approved the law.Continue Reading »

Children Wanted

Written by Beulah Amidon, appearing in Survey Graphic, 1937. “Nineteen state legislatures are meeting this year. Twenty-four states have ratified the child labor amendment; if twelve more act—and act favorably—the amendment will be a part of the Constitution, conferring upon Congress the power, which the Supreme Court has ruled it now lacks, to safeguard young workers.”Continue Reading »

Children on Strike

Article written by Paul Comly French, appearing in The Nation, 1933. “Shocking conditions in the sweatshops of Pennsylvania, where 200,000 men, women, and children work long hours for starvation wages, became front-page news through the efforts of the “baby strikers” of the Lehigh Valley.”Continue Reading »

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