There is nothing wrong with the American labor movement excepting that we haven't mobilized it. The rank and file are ready.
— Walter Reuther, 1959
The labor movement is trapped by its affiliation with the Democratic Party.... It has little independence of action left.
— Hobart Rowen, The Free Enterprisers, 1964
At the end of the 1950s Reuther's booming popularity overseas had fewer echoes at home. His steadfast anti-Communism in Europe and Asia had long since been discounted on the domestic political battlefield. The recession of 1957-58 demonstrated the limited capacity of the Treaty of Detroit to address structural imbalances within the economy; at the same time a more vigorous, right-wing politics at odds with Dwight Eisenhower's brand of "Modern Republicanism" came to reject the settled character of the New Deal state and the bipartisan internationalism that linked ADA liberals to State Department conservatives. Unlike Joe McCarthy, Republican Senators Barry Goldwater of Arizona and William Knowland of California were as hostile to industrywide collective bargaining and trade union political influence as they were to the tattered remnants of the old Popular Front. Such ideological combat soon gave rise to a popular conservative movement whose very first initiative put "right-to-work" referenda banning the union shop on the ballot of six states, including Ohio and California. 1
Naturally Reuther came in for a terrific drubbing as a "labor boss." The attack hit its stride when Michigan Republicans invited Barry Goldwater to address a Jan
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit:Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor. Contributors: Nelson Lichtenstein - Author. Publisher: Basic Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 346.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.