Monday, September 30, 2019

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The Labor Leader Essay

Political Background   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Franklin D. Roosevelt was the longest running president of the United States. He was at the helm of the nation from the end of the Great Depression to the end of the Second World War. Spanning 12 years, his administration faced the toughest times in U.S. history. However, his policies and programs must have effectively addressed both foreign and domestic crises as evidenced by the popular will that kept him in the White House.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   FDR entered politics as a democrat and won a seat in the New York Senate in 1910 as well governorship of New York in 1928. He was an advocate of the farmers in New York and an opponent of corruption in government which manifested in the activities of the Tweed Ring (Miller Center, 2008). His style of governance was both progressive and nationalist where he believed in equality among peoples and accountability of government.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   He became assistant secretary to the navy then made his comeback as governor of New York in 1928 after years of battling with polio. His political career culminated in his election as United States president in 1932. He was re-elected thrice after but was unable to finish his last term because of his sudden death. Involvement in Labor Management Relations   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Well before his inauguration and into the first years of his administration, he saw the crisis brought about by overproduction bring agriculture and manufacturing to a standstill into what is known as the Great Depression. Thousands of workers became unemployed and farmers were set to lose their farms and property to creditors. Poverty, hunger, joblessness and uncertainty lurked evidenced everywhere.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   FDR believed that capitalism is the most advanced economy. However, it has its flaws if unregulated so that necessary reforms should be made to enable government to regulate the economy (Miller Center, 2008). At the height of the Great Depression, FDR’s early solution to U.S. industry was encapsulated in the National Industry Recovery Act.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The NIRA sought to stimulate production by creating demand for products through public works construction (Miller Center, 2008). This in turn generated employment for the multitudes of jobless Americans. The Act also gave incentives to industry and at the same time provided protection for workers in terms of wage regulation and the right to collectively bargain and organize (Dubofsky, 1994, p.111). However, the NIRA was largely unsuccessful because it failed to take into account the basic laws that governed capitalism.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   FDR tried a new tack through the Workers Progress Administration, the Wagner-Connery National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act. The WPA sustained and expanded the earlier efforts of job creation (Miller Center, 2008). Millions of Americans were paid by government to construct schools buildings, hospital facilities and transport infrastructure. It also provided the necessary training in order to be eligible for employment.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Wagner-Connery Act was the successful attempt at legislating the worker’s welfare stated in the earlier NIRA. This Act ensured worker’s rights to collective bargain and union organization (Dubofsky, 1994, p.131). It further established a government agency to oversee its implementation – the National Labor Relations Board which became the workers union’s grievance center for the unfair wage and labor practices committed by company management (Dubofsky, 1994, p.128).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   In 1938, FDR enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act to complement the Wagner-Connery Act. The FLSA set up a legal minimum working man’s wage and pegged the legal maximum hours of work each day as additional measures against worker exploitation (Miller Center, 2008). As a result, union membership ballooned to more than 10 million by the 1940’s.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Social Security Act instituted welfare benefits for the workers such as assistance and insurance during old age, insurance for the unemployed, assistance to dependent children and the blind (Miller Center, 2008). The funds for this program were subtracted regularly from the worker’s wages. FDR further initiated a socialized tax scheme which aimed to tax the wealthier more and the workers less, though this was largely shot down by Congress.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The major economic problems involving industry during the Great Depression forced FDR to be involved with labor management. Workers formed the bulk of the electorate, and as a liberal reformer, he saw it his responsibility as a public official to improve their conditions. His sensitivity and knowledge regarding the unequal relations between management and workers enabled him to effectively translate workers’ rights into legislation. Contribution to Labor Management Relations   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   FDR has greatly contributed to labor management relations by creating legal mechanisms by which worker’s can exercise their rights and demand fairer wages along with better working conditions and benefits from management. These mechanisms are in due recognition of the fact that workers and management have contradictory interests: the former aims to obtain higher wagers while the latter aims to decrease production costs through lowered wages.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The labor and welfare acts that saw implementation during FDR’s administration are also evidence of the worker being in a disadvantaged position. It recognized that the only manner in which workers can engage management with regards to their remuneration and work environment is through their collective bargaining. In order for workers to be forceful, they must consolidate themselves into a union as their venue for organized action.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   The Wagner Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act also point to the need for government arbitration in labor disputes with the National Labor Relations Board as the mediating agency between unions and management. List of References Dubofsky, M. (1994). The State and Labor in Modern America. North Carolina: University   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   of North Carolina Press. Retrieved 25 March 2008 from   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚ Miller Center Public Affairs University of Virginia (2008). American President: An Online   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Reference Resource – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). Retrieved 25 March 2008 from

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