During the Great Depression of 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt became the President. In his first 100 days in office, he rolled out a program called the New Deal. He embraced Keynesian economic policies and fought to expand the role of the government in the nation’s economy. He implemented a series of programs called the New Deal to stabilize the economy and give jobs to millions of Americans who had lost their jobs. New federal agencies were created including the Social Security Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He created the Tennessee Valley Authority that enabled the federal government to build dams and hydroelectric projects creating thousands of jobs. The Congress passed the Social Security Act which provided a safety Net for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled. A decent minimum wage was established. The Glass-Steagall Act was passed to protect people with their savings and deposits in the banks. He raised taxes on the rich to pay for all these programs.
During these difficult times, labor unions were a critical part of the New Deal. Both the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 included protections for unions and required corporations to negotiate with unions. Unions were decimated during the 1920s, but now they had started growing rapidly. Millions of workers joined the unions. Unions felt empowered to fight for better wages and hours with the government on their side. These were all democratic moves. Union membership was at its peak in the 1950s. It was at 35% in 1954. From then onwards, its decline started. By 2021, it had declined to just 10.3%. That means corporate power has drastically increased. Millions of workers in America have no power, no say. Today, big corporations have become so powerful in America that they control every aspect of our lives. They directly or indirectly control not only our politicians but also where we live, what we eat, what we buy, how much we earn, and what we read, see on TV, or listen to on radio and ultimately what we think.