LABOR ON THE MARCH: The Story of America's Unions by Joseph L. & Editors of American Heritage Gardner

LABOR ON THE MARCH: The Story of America's Unions

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The weakest of the several available histories of labor and the labor movement, grossly deficient in ignoring Negroes completely (such a stalwart as Randolph doesn't rate a mention, nor among continuing problems, does discrimination); grossly misleading in playing up spectacular aberrations (in 147 pages, 5 are devoted to Hoffa, 2 to Beck) and omitting countermeasures against corruption (such as labor's codes of ethical practices); grossly negligent in failing to explain issues (e.g. the most pernicious racketeering is not stealing from union coffers but conspiring with employers), detail procedures (e.g. in gaining union recognition), define terms or even talk in labor union terms (i.e. of fringe benefits or welfare funds or escalator clauses, none of which appears here). Starting (for reasons that never become clear) with the 1892 defeat at Homestead, this flashes back to Lowell, and centers thereafter largely on salient figures, rather grossly and often unflatteringly portrayed: in old age ""with his hair coming out in patches and his jowly skin sinking down on his short neck,"" Gompers reminds a woman of ""a grotesque frog."" Add to this photos that--in the nature of things--emphasize violence, and cartoons that--equally unsurprisingly--ridicule or rail against labor in specific situations, and you have anything but a just representation, the authors' lip-service to ""accomplishments"" notwithstanding. Just what Working Men went through and what labor unions are about can be learned from the Lens study, what the leaders contributed from Selvin's Champions of Labor.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1969
Publisher: American Heritage--Harper & Row