Like all other industrial areas in the country, New Jersey was hit hard by the Great Depression, the economic troubles of the 1930s. By 1931 municipalities could no longer collect property taxes; unemployed homeowners forced tax delinquencies to 28 percent in Newark and Camden and 30 percent in Paterson. The Red Cross distributed food in Elizabeth and New Brunswick, and barter systems developed in Paterson and in Newark’s Clinton Hill, allowing the unemployed to exchange service for food.
By the summer of 1933, federal relief programs, part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s economic strategy known as the New Deal, were sustaining 142,000 big-city residents—one of every ten. The New Deal’s Public Works Authority built the Margaret Hague Medical Center in Jersey City and Camden’s 515-unit Westfield Acres public housing project, and provided loans to construct the Lincoln Tunnel and to electrify the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Jersey Division. The federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided money for county roads, forest preserves, and writing programs. As late as 1936, 700,000 people were on the state’s relief rolls or working on New Deal projects. The labor movement won a major victory in 1935, when the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), known as the Wagner Act, was passed.
The law recognized workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively, but workers in many New Jersey industries had to strike to win recognition for their unions. After bitter strikes, the Union of Electrical Workers negotiated a contract for 12,000 RCA Victor workers in Camden, the United Automobile Workers of America won recognition as the bargaining agent at General Motors in Linden, and the Machinists Union became the bargaining agent at Wright Aeronautical in Paterson. "New Jersey" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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