From the Great Depression to the Great Recession

The presentation last Saturday regarding unions in America continues to linger in my thoughts.

From the Great Depression to the Great Recession was the term used to describe this presentation.

The first thing that excited this old guy was the slide showing the similarities of our country’s economy in the late 1920s early 1930s to the current conditions.

Concentration of wealth at the top

Massive unemployment of the working class

Union membership at the lowest level in years

In the 30s they had “Hoovervilles” and soup lines

Today we have repossessed homes sitting empty and never ending unemployment checks

Hoover did recognize the dire condition of the economy, but thought it was a cyclical thing and the only thing of real economic importance was a balanced budget

Sound familiar to you?

The main theme of this presentation was unionism and to make a point here I am going to include an exact somewhat lengthy quote.

George Barnett.  Economist, Presidential Address to the American Economics Association

“American trade unionism is slowly being limited in influence by changes which destroy the basis on which it is erected. It is probable the changes in the law have adversely affected unionism. Certainly the growth of large corporations has done so. But… over and above these influences, the relative decline in the power of trade unionism is due to occupational changes and to technological revolution.

The changes—occupational and technological—which checked the advance of trade unionism in the last decade appear likely to continue in the same direction. It is hazardous to prophesy, but I see no reason to believe that American trade unionism will so revolutionize itself within a short period of time as to become in the next decade a more potent social influence than it has been in the past decade.”

This presidential address was made in 1932!

And then came 1936 and the famous sit down strike in Flint Michigan.  Details of which were explained at length in the presentation; details that were both interesting and eye opening to this observer.

The explanation and slides of the Flint sit down strike made this program worth the time and effort to attend in and of itself. It is like a movie that you want to see again knowing you will get more out of it with additional viewings.

The presentation was by a gentleman named David Reynolds a labor educator from Wayne State University.

Off Topic… I suspect I may have snagged a troll, watch for more.


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