An Injury to All: The Decline of American Unionism (Haymarket)

An Injury to All: The Decline of American Unionism (Haymarket)

Kim Moody

Language: English

Pages: 398

ISBN: 0860919293

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Over the past decade American labor has faced a tidal wave of wage cuts, plant closures and broken strikes. In this first comprehensive history of the labor movement from Truman to Reagan, Kim Moody shows how the AFL-CIO’s conservative ideology of “business unionism” effectively disarmed unions in the face of a domestic right turn and an epochal shift to globalized production. Eschewing alliances with new social forces in favor of its old Cold War liaisons and illusory compacts with big business, the AFL-CIO under George Meany and Lane Kirkland has been forced to surrender many of its post-war gains.

With extraordinary attention to the viewpoints of rank-and-file workers, Moody chronicles the major, but largely unreported, efforts of labor’s grassroots to find its way out of the crisis. In case studies of auto, steel, meatpacking and trucking, he traces the rise of “anti-concession” movements and in other case studies describes the formidable obstacles to the “organization of the unorganized” in the service sector. A detailed analysis of the Rainbow Coalition’s potential to unite labor with other progressive groups follows, together with a pathbreaking consideration of the possibilities of a new “labor internationalism.”

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unionism that made their organizing efforts more effective. Organizing among public service workers also necessitated a rise in militant tactics and strikes. Strikes among public workers were mostly illegal. In the early 1960s, before the explosion of organizing, the number of public worker strikes fluctuated between twenty-eight and thirty-six a year, with the number of days lost to strikes running between 15,300 and 79,100 a year. In the second half of the 1960s, however, the number of strikes

And, unlike any other candidate, Mazzocchi called for the formation of a labor party in the US. Because of his strong record on health and safety in the industries covered by OCAW he was a popular candidate and succeeded in building a strong network of supporters around the country. Nevertheless, he lost to Goss by just over 3,000 votes – 69,090 to 72,856. Some of his supporters attributed his defeat to the disaffiliation of the 20,000-member Canadian district, where Mazzocchi was popular, two

or the Landrum-Griffin Act, was opposed by labor. Much the same can be said for the CIO’s social unionist legislative goals of the 1940s. Proposals calling for full employment, national health care, comprehensive public housing, and economic planning were all defeated in the postwar period. Labor has been on the winning side only when broader coalitions have arisen, and then mostly when another social force such as the civil rights movement has been willing to operate outside the channels that

unionism. To change this, the CIO leaders moved rapidly to centralize control over bargaining and to replace the one-year bargaining cycle with long-term contracts. In 1947 the Rubber Workers required that all locals ‘submit their contracts to the General President of the International Union for approval before such agreements were to be signed.’56 In the UAW, any relative bargaining autonomy the various departments (GM, Ford, Chrysler, Ag-Imp, and others) might have had ended as the

Civil Rights Act’s Title VII, which promised equal employment opportunity. The same was true for housing, transportation, medical care, and so on. As for the vote: they had it, and it had not made a difference. These ‘rioters’ were poor working-class people demanding attention to their needs. They got attention. But it came in form of committees, commissions, and reports. What they needed to solve their problems was organization. Here was the biggest outburst of working-class anger since the

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