LABOR WILL RULE by Steven Fraser


Sidney Hillman and the Rise of American Labor
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 The lives of few American labor leaders have been given as thorough and caring an examination as that of Sidney Hillman in this massive biography by Fraser, the executive editor of Basic Books. Fraser shows how Hillman's early experience as an agitator in revolutionary Russia and as an immigrant toiling in America's textile industry shaped his outlook on the ``labor question'' for the rest of his life. Indeed, Fraser depicts how Hillman's passionate belief in the dignity of working people translated into his advocacy of a national labor policy that would shield American workers from the vicissitudes of the market system and provide them with economic security and equal rights in the work place. The author also painstakingly details how this led Hillman to seek an alliance with progressive industrialists and leaders of the Democratic Party to achieve his goals. Hillman's successes, from the Protocols of Peace to the organizing of the CIO, and his access to Franklin Roosevelt (memorialized in FDR's quip, ``Clear it with Sidney''), contained, Fraser argues, the seeds of organized labor's fall in the decades after WW II--a crucial paradox to Fraser, for as Hillman and organized labor succeeded in improving the living standards of American workers, they did so by forsaking their demand to include labor's voice in managing the American economy. An impressive work that both vividly documents the life of one of America's foremost labor leaders and manages to address a number of questions about the rise and fall of American labor and the Democratic Party over the course of the 20th century.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1991
ISBN: 0-02-910630-3
Page count: 600pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991


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