WPA Protests: 1936-40
The Works Progress Administration employed several million people during its existence from 1935 to 1943 in order to provide productive labor to relieve unemployment during the Great Depression. The Agency was terminated in 1943 after U.S. unemployment shrunk to near zero due to World War II.

In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt cut funding for the WPA resulting in several thousand layoffs.

The recently consolidated Workers Alliance – a merger of three different organizations organizing and representing unemployed workers – organized several protests of the layoffs, including a mass march August 24, 1937.

The marchers came from all over the country and camped in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. before undertaking their demonstration that took them past the Workers Progress Administration headquarters, the Chamber of Commerce, the White House and the U.S. Capitol and holding a rally at the Labor Department (now Mellon) Auditorium.

The march was not successful in its goal of winning reinstatement for workers laid-off, but did receive pledges from Administration officials that no more layoffs would be conducted.

The Workers Alliance was a product of the merger between the Depression era Communist Party’s Unemployed Councils, the Socialist Party’s Worker’s Alliance and the A. J. Muste/Trotskyist Unemployed Leagues.

The Works Progress Administration (later Works Projects Administration) built public works projects such as roads, bridges, schools, courthouses, hospitals, parks, and museums, including many that are still in use today. There were also projects for artists and writers.
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