ADVANTAGES

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.)

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