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National Recovery Administration

NRA

National Recovery Administration Blue Eagle poster

 

The National Recovery Administration was a New Deal Agency that was tasked to create codes of “fair practices” and set prices in an effort to create a more equal opportunities and healthy competition that were not “cut throat.” The NRA set minimum wages, maximum weekly hours and established some price controls. The agency started in 1933, but in 1935 it stopped its operations because the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that the NRA law was unconstitutional. The NRA was supported by workers and business that supported it would place the blue eagle in their windows and on packages. Though it was voluntary to participate, many business owners felt pressured to join because those that didn’t would be boycotted.

President Roosevelt explained that "if all employers in each trade now band themselves faithfully in these modern guilds--without exception-and agree to act together and at once, none will be hurt and millions of workers, so long deprived of the right to earn their bread in the sweat of their labor, can raise their heads again. The challenge of this law is whether we can sink selfish interest and present a solid front against a common peril." (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=14673).

Imagine how different the world presented in Grapes of Wrath would have been if the farmers banded together and agreed to pay a more living wage to the farm workers. If the worker had more money to spend then they would have been able to purchase and afford more (including more food and clothes) and be active participates in the economy. By paying fair living wages to their workers they would have created a bigger buying market and potentially made more profits. Unfortunately, the CA farmers bound together in a different way. They created the Farmers Association to strong arm anti-union legislation and set worker’s wages. President Roosevelt recognized that by creating a strong middle class would help the economy recover, but 1% at the top would not voluntarily cut into their profits to pay out their worker without some legislation and regulations. This harsh reality is what we see in Grapes of Wrath, where the growers bound together to protect their profits over the wellbeing of the people.