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Unionism at High Tide I.Working Class America A.Blue-collar culture B.The Risks of Respectability II.Postwar Activism A.Strike wave—1946 B.The Rise of.

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Presentation on theme: "Unionism at High Tide I.Working Class America A.Blue-collar culture B.The Risks of Respectability II.Postwar Activism A.Strike wave—1946 B.The Rise of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unionism at High Tide I.Working Class America A.Blue-collar culture B.The Risks of Respectability II.Postwar Activism A.Strike wave—1946 B.The Rise of Reuther-ism C.Operation Dixie, III.Labor at the Center A.Purge and Merge B.Growth and Clout IV.Models A.Reuther-ism B.Bureaucratic Unionism C.Militant Conservatism

2 Blue-collar culture William Wyler –The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Frank Capra –It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Jackie Gleason The Honeymooners

3 The Limits of Respectability Race Gender Middle class norms weaken class-consciousness of workers –Nuclear families v. work group –More to lose through militancy –Forget past hardships –Consumerism erodes solidarity Rehm family, Levittown, NY, 1951

4 Strike Wave—1946 5,000,000 strike Wildcats General strikes –Oakland Union strikes –Coal –Auto Walter Reuther “Open the books” Youngstown steel strikers, January 1946

5 Operation Dixie Last burst of radicalism Southern textiles, tobacco, lumber, steel Failure– law, local government, coercion, race Organizing outside factory, Muscogee, GA Anti-union poster

6 Purge and Merge Purge –Communists control 14 of 31 CIO unions, 1/3 of all delegates –But only 15% of CIO members are Communists Merge –In February 1955—AFL and CIO reach accord

7 Growth & Clout By 1955, 1/3 of all workers belong to unions Gain role in national government –“The New Men of Power” –Arthur Goldberg

8 Reuther-ism Descends from model developed by Taylor, Brandeis, & Ford Fordism plus industrial unionism –Worker participation –Consumerism UAW President Walter Reuther

9 Bureaucratic Unionism AKA, “service unionism” Not concerned with organizing new workers Interested in preserving existing organizations, protecting members AFL-CIO president George Meany “Well, Kwusty”

10 Militancy without altruism International Brotherhood of Teamsters –Tough, aggressive –World’s largest union –1.6 million members Problems –Raiding –Corruption IBT president, Dave Beck, 1957


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