Opposition, Unions, and Life

1933 - 1939

Opponents of the New Deal

Liberal Critics

Liberals on the more "far-left" end of the spectrum condemned FDR's New Deal, particularly to First New Deal, for not doing enough for the unemployed and the poor, yet too much for businesses. They also claimed that the struggles endured by minorities, women, and the elderly were ignored.

Conservative Critics

Roosevelt's New Deal faced more opposition from conservatives. They largely opposed the acts and programs focused on labor issues, which often favored the workers over the businesses. The American Liberty League was former by conservative Democrats and Republicans against the New Deal.


Several of those against the New Deal used the radio to promote their ideas opposing the New Deal. Father Coughlin promoted an inflated currency and the nationalization of all banks. Dr. Townsend called for a plan that prompted Roosevelt to create the Social Security system. Huey Long proposed that wealthy citizens should be taxed, and the money gained from taxing them would be redistributed to the less wealthy, promising them at least $5000 per year.

The Supreme Court

Roosevelt often met resistance from the Supreme Court. In 1937, he proposed a bill that would allow him to appoint additional justices to the Supreme Court - one for each current justice over 70.5 years old. The bill was shot down by Congress. Afterwards, the Court became more accepting to his acts and programs. Several justices also retired during his second term, which allowed him to appoint many judges of his own choosing.

Rise of Unions

Formation of the C.I.O.

In 1935, many unions within the American Federation of Labor wished to include workers of all races and sexes, even if they were unskilled. They formed the Committee of Industrial Organizations, which broke away from the A.F. of L. in 1936 as the renamed Congress of Industrial Organizations.


Strikes were commonplace during this era. Workers at a General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan were involved in a sit-down strike as they protested for their right to unionize. The company finally caved and recognized the United Auto Workers union. A similar protest at a Ford plant in Michigan resulted in the union organizers being driven out. Four protesters were killed at a protest at Republic Steel in Chicago, as many smaller steel companies refused to acknowledge the C.I.O. unions.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act established the minimum wage at an initial $0.40 per hour, a maximum working time of 40 hours per week and time and a half for overtime, and child labor restraints for children under the age of 16.

Last Phase of the New Deal


The economy fell back into a recession during the winter of 1937. The Social Security tax on consumers stunted their ability to spend money, while Roosevelt also cut back on government spending on public works and relief.

Roosevelt realized his mistake after reading the works of John Maynard Keynes, and then Roosevelt increased spending on public works and relief, which led to positive effects on the nation's economy.

Weakened New Deal

Roosevelt lost some of his followers after he proposed his controversial court-packing bill. Several politicians within the American Liberty League sought to impede additional New Deal legislation.

Life During the Depression


Women were motivated to become employed during the depression, as their husbands often had trouble finding employment. They usually took jobs that men did not wish to take, though many men still blamed women for stealing jobs from men.

Dust Bowl Farmers

The Great Plains area was stricken by a drought in the 1930s, which only added to the farmers' struggles. Many farmers in the area traveled west in search of work, which was rare to find.

African Americans

African Americans still often faced discrimination, especially in the South. However, the establishment of the WPA and the CCC provided some low-paying jobs to African Americans. Roosevelt appointed several African Americans to government positions, such as Mary McLeod Bethune. Roosevelt also created the Fair Employment Practices Committee to aid minorities in finding work after A. Philip Randolph threatened to march with the Railroad Porters Union for equal opportunities.

Native Americans

John Collier led the Bureau of Indian Affairs to gain rights for Native Americans. He succeeded in getting Native Americans involved with several New Deal programs. He also persuaded Roosevelt to repeal the Dawes Act of 1887, which would return the Native Americans' lands back to the tribes, and also promoted keeping their culture alive.

Mexican Americans

Mexican Americans were often discriminated against in New Deal programs, and with the new push of whites looking for work, many Mexican Americans were then forced to return to Mexico.

Keynesian Economics
Dust Bowl Documentary