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Historical Analysis of the Labor-Capital Conflict

             The mid twentieth century was an era of technological revolution, unforgiving war, incredible economic volatility, and despite eliciting new challenges for unions, this period served as "the golden age" for labor relations. The mid 1900's was a period of time where societal, economic, and political conditions aligned such that labor was able to exceed prior limitations and grab their share of the rope from even the most obstinate industries. With the introduction of the Congress of Industrial Organization and industrial unionization, significant strides in labor were made in the historically stagnant steel and auto industries. The conditions and actions that pushed the former limitations mainly stemmed from political activism and factionalism - the same changes responsible for exposing new limitations for labor later in time. .
             To understand changes in the societal, economic, and political condition of the United States, one must first understand the conditions from which they changed. 1918 to 1933 (particularly the mid-20's) marked a period of economic boom for The United States. The labor force increased from 41.6 million in 1919 to 49 million in 1929(1). The working class shifted dramatically from jobs in mining, manufacturing, and agriculture to jobs in industrial enterprises like steel refineries. In fact, the number of workers at these enterprises nearly doubled from 1900 to 1930. Thus, labor as a whole became more automated; that is, working class labor became mechanized, unskilled, and expendable.
             The thriving economy molded expectations of indefinite work, continually increasing wages, and material gain into the work force, which undermined the utility of unions. Thus, with the labor market resting in favor of the labor, union membership effectively diminished. That was, until the stock market plummeted in 1929 and American economy collapsed. Discontent with the Republican Party's performance, America elected Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt into office in 1932.

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