The 1940s Business and the Economy: Chronology

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The 1940s Business and the Economy: Chronology

1940:     January 9 In Chicago, a federal circuit court rules that Inland Steel Corporation does not have to recognize the Steel Workers' Organizing Committee as the sole agent for bargaining with workers.

1940:     October 24 The forty-hour workweek begins, two years after it was passed as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

1941:     January 3 The federal government orders the construction of two hundred merchant ships in preparation for the possibility of entering World War II.

1941:     January 7 The Office of Production Management is set up to supervise defense production. William S. Knudsen is put in charge.

1941:     April 11 For the first time, the Ford Motor Company signs a deal with unions to end a strike involving 85,000 workers.

1941:     May 16 U.S. Defense Savings Bonds go on sale to raise money for defense efforts.

1941:     December 7 The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, leads President Roosevelt to declare war.

1941:     December 27 The Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply (OPA), established in April, introduces rubber rationing. Civilian rubber consumption drops by 80 percent.

1942:     January 16 The Office of Production Management (OPM) is replaced by the War Production Board. It is a sign that the nation is now on a war footing.

1942:     January 30 President Roosevelt signs the Price Control Bill. This bill sets prices for all products except farm goods.

1942:     May 5 Sugar rationing is introduced.

1942:     May 15 Gasoline is rationed in seventeen eastern states. Each driver is allowed only three gallons per week for nonessential journeys.

1943:     March 29 Meat, fat, and cheese join coffee, sugar, and canned goods on the list of products subject to government rationing.

1943:     May 1 The federal government takes over the nation's mines to end a strike by 530,000 miners. In December, the government will also take over the railroads for similar reasons.

1943:     June 20 When African Americans are brought into war industries, race riots break out in Detroit. In two days, thirty-five people are killed and five hundred are wounded, most of them black.

1944:     January 19 The railways are returned to their owners by the federal government.

1944:     May 3 The OPA ends meat rationing except for steak and other choice cuts.

1944:     July At the Bretton Woods Conference, held in New Hampshire, international diplomats set up the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

1944:     August 14 Manufacturers are allowed to begin making consumer goods again.

1945:     May 7 Germany officially surrenders to the Allies.

1945:     August 15 Rationing of oil and gasoline ends.

1945:     August 18 President Harry S Truman orders the return of free markets and the end of war production.

1946:      In a record year for labor disputes, strikes disrupt many industries, including steel, automobiles, mining, railroads, and shipping. In Philadelphia in August, strikes shut off the supply of bread.

1946:     October 19 Loans to foreign countries under the Lend-Lease scheme reach $51 billion.

1946:     November 29 After calling 400,000 miners out on strike against government orders, John L. Lewis, leader of the United Mine Workers Union, is indicted for contempt of court.

1947:     January 7 After a distinguished wartime career as an army general, George C. Marshall is named U.S. Secretary of State.

1947:     April 7 In the first nationwide telephone strike, 300,000 communication workers walk off their jobs.

1947:     May 9 The World Bank loans France $250 million to help reconstruct its industries and cities.

1947:     May 13 The Taft-Hartley Act puts limits on labor union powers.

1947:     June 11 Sugar rationing ends.

1947:     November 8 Under the Marshall Plan, the U.S. government proposes to give European countries $17 billion to help reconstruct their economies.

1948:     February 10 The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) ejects all members opposed to the Marshall Plan.

1948:     June 21 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that unions may not be prevented from publishing political opinions.

1948:     August 16 Americans are buying mass amounts of consumer goods on credit. In order to slow down the economy and control inflation, the Federal Reserve increases interest rates.

1948:     November 15 The first American-built electric locomotive is tested by General Electric and the American Locomotive Company.

1949:     January 14 An antitrust lawsuit is filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T). The suit argues that AT&T's telephone network should be separate from its manufacturing subsidiary, Western Electric.

1949:     February 25 For the first time since the war, General Motors cuts the price of automobiles.

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The 1940s Business and the Economy: Chronology