Today in labor history: Roosevelt signs Social Security Act

On this day in1935 FDR signed the first Social Security Act into law.  In the aftermath of the Great Depression during which poverty encompassed 60 percent of the senior population, Social Security was a major plank of Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” The law was passed after an intense period of struggle in which the trade unions, the left generally and the Communist Party played a significant role. In addition part of the campaign for Social Security was the establishment of Townsend Clubs, named after Dr. Francis E. Townsend a senior citizen activist who campaigned for such a program. Over 5 million seniors joined the clubs. Roosevelt called for the legislation in his State of the Union address in January 1935.  Today Republicans want to privatize the program.

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