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Moreover, several problems soon arose that slowed the CIO's progress. With the help of the state police in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, along with sudden lay-offs for thousands of workers due to the economic downturn triggered by Roosevelt's decision to balance the budget, the ultraconservatives in Little Steel were able to defeat unionization efforts in the second half of 1937. A similar drive in the heterogeneous textile industry was stalled later in the year for a similar combination of reasons. At the same time, Southern Democrats were deeply upset by the sit-downs in the North and by attempts by the CIO to organize in the South, starting in early 1937 with the textile industry, which was by then the largest industry in the South due to the rapid movement of northern mills into the region. The fact that the CIO organizing drives were interracial in both the North and South only added fuel to the fire. Led by Senator James Byrnes of South Carolina, one of Roosevelt's closest allies in previous years, the Southern Democrats began a series of actions within Congress that created problems for the CIO and the National Labor Relations Board, ranging from passage of a "sense of the Senate" resolution that sit-downs were illegal to attacks on the labor board's budget (Gross 1981; Patterson 1967, pp. 135-137). The Southerners were capitalizing on the growing animosity in Congress over Roosevelt's unexpected court-packing scheme, introduced as a complete surprise on February 5, 1937, which stirred their fears of an attack on the Jim Crow system. More generally, the effort to hamstring the National Labor Relations Board helped to revive the conservative voting coalition that had dominated Congress since the Compromise of 1877 (Patterson 1967). (In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that sit-down strikes were illegal, thereby officially depriving union organizers of a potent tactic that makes it impossible to bring in replacement workers. The National Labor Relations Board, it should be noted, had disapproved of sit-downs, too, but had not been able to do anything about them.)

Rewriting the History of the Vietnam War, to the …

Contrary to claims that Roosevelt had major backing in the corporate community, he did not have significant support in any business sector except one, the alcoholic beverages industry, which paid "its debt of gratitude to the Democratic Party" for Roosevelt's successful efforts to end prohibition by providing 5.7% of the party's donations of $1,000 or more (Overacker 1937, p. 487). There was no support from an alleged "capital-intensive international segment of the capitalist class," as one political fantasist insists without bothering to go beyond gossip or take a look at the systematic donation records (Ferguson 1995). Nor did Roosevelt receive disproportionate support from purported "proto-Keynesians" in mass-consumption industries (e.g., department stores, chain stores, manufacturers of household electrical equipment), as one historian partial to economic reductionism believes to be the case (Fraser 1989; Fraser 1991).

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).

The American Economy during World War II

Whatever Roosevelt's reasons for his decision, the moderate conservatives Teagle and Kirstein were privately pleased with it. They believed the National Labor Board now would fall by the wayside. They were in effect abandoning a government agency they had played a major role in creating. Yes, history, like life, does have its little ironies, and in this case the irony allows me to distinguish my views from those theorists who make "the Rockefellers" sound all-knowing and all-powerful. They do make mistakes, they do screw up, and they do sometimes lose. But it didn't look that way at the time to at least some members of the Rockefeller industrial relations network. As Teagle wrote to Kirstein in a private note in April 1934:

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By December 1933, Wagner had decided that the basic principles established by section 7(a) and the Reading Formula, along with various board rulings concerning procedures for implementing them, had to be written into law outside the structure of the NRA (Bernstein 1950, p. 62). To that end he held a meeting in early January with labor leaders and a lawyer from the Department of Labor to decide what topics would be covered. This meeting began a process that led to an eventual defeat for the corporate moderates, so it's important to note that the following account of it makes use of my new archival findings that were not known to most scholars until 2011, and have yet to be taken seriously by the social scientists and historians who laugh about the idea of Rockefeller influence on labor legislation.

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The refusal by the corporate moderates to accept majority rule in March 1934, when they still had control of the overall legislative and administrative situation, encapsulates the complex change in class forces that had occurred over the previous four to six years. At the surface level, the corporate moderates had an obvious concern to protect the employee representation plans they had established in their various companies. At a deeper level, they were committed to proportional representation because it allowed them to deal with craft workers separately from industrial workers, thus helping to maintain the segmentation of the working class. Proportional representation had been the basis for the agreement between big business and organized labor during World War I, because it allowed the craft-oriented AFL to look out for its workers while leaving industrial workers to the tender mercies of their anti-union employers. In suggesting a similar board in 1933, the business leaders were assuming that AFL leaders once again would accept the same sort of cross-class bargain (McQuaid 1979; McQuaid 1982).