Americans voted for a “return to normalcy” in 1920 with the election of Warren G. Harding, the first of three pro-business Republican presidents to occupy the White House in the 1920s. After a series of progressive presidencies, the playing field has once again leaned towards employers. “The main activity of the American people is business,” said Calvin Coolidge, who succeeded Harding after his death in 1923.
Throughout the 1920s, courts regularly issued injunctions against strikes, picketing and other union activity. When 400,000 railroad traders quit their jobs after the Railroad Labor Board cut their wages in 1922, Attorney General Harry Daugherty won a sweeping injunction to crush the nationwide strike. “As long as I can speak for the United States government, I will use the power of the government to prevent unions across the country from destroying the open shop,” he said.
The United States Supreme Court made a series of anti-union rulings in the 1920s, McCartin says: Duplex Printing Press Co. v Deering (1921) drilled a deadly hole in the Clayton Act’s labor protections. Truax vs. Corrigan (1921) prevented states from limiting employers’ use of injunctions to crush strikes. And Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (1923) struck down minimum wage laws that protected women workers.