The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1935-1941

By Walter Galenson | Go to book overview

15
The Machinists

The International Association of Machinists was an organization which, up to the mid-nineteen-thirties, was having trouble making up its mind on structure and jurisdiction. It was torn between a loyalty to craft unionism, on the one hand, and the desire to organize manufacturing establishments on an industrial basis on the other hand. Apart from William Hutcheson, no member of the AFL Executive Council was more bitterly opposed to industrial unionism in 1935 than A. O. Wharton, the Machinists' president; nor was any member inclined to be less compromising in his attitude toward the CIO. In arguing for the expulsion of the CIO unions in 1936, Wharton said: "I do not know of any International that would tolerate a condition within its own ranks that the American Federation of Labor is now confronted with. . . . There is no institution in the country that has not the right through its duly constituted authority to protect itself against insurrection within its ranks."1 The Machinists' Monthly Journal commented editorially on the CIO soon after its formation as follows: "The I.A. of M., through its responsible officers, cannot . . . do other than resist with all the power at its command, any attempt on the part of the so-called C.I.O. to organize in Industrial Unions, or any other unions than the I.A. of M., those employed on work over which it claims jurisdiction. If machinists, or those eligible to the I.A. of M. are to be parceled around among several unions, industrial or otherwise, it means the beginning of the end for the I.A. of M., whose members now find employment in every industry no matter what its character may be." 2

Yet when faced with the alternative of permitting organization by rival unions, the Machinists' Union unhesitatingly admitted to membership workers whose classification as machinists was feasible only by a construction of that term which would have delighted the heart of the most rabid industrial unionist. While the most obvious example of this policy was the organization of the aircraft industry, the union had in effect been moving in this direction for many years. Initially it was an organization of highly

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The CIO Challenge to the AFL: A History of the American Labor Movement, 1935-1941
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Wertheim Publications in Industrial Relations i
  • Wertheim Publications in Industrial Relation ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xiv
  • Illustrations (following Page 620) xv
  • Author's Preface xvii
  • 1 - Background of the Struggle 3
  • 2 - The Organization of Steel 75
  • 3 - The Automobile Industry 123
  • 4 - Coal Mining 193
  • 5 - The Electrical and Radio Manufacturing Industries 239
  • 6 - The Rubber Industry 266
  • 7 - The Men's Clothing Industry 283
  • 8 - The Women's Clothing Industry 300
  • 9 - The Renascence of Textile Unionism 325
  • 10 - The Meat Industry 349
  • 11 - The Lumber Industry 379
  • 12 - The Petroleum Industry 409
  • 13 - The Maritime Industry 427
  • 14 - The Teamsters 459
  • 15 - The Machinists 495
  • 16 - The Building Trades 514
  • 17 - Printing and Publishing 530
  • 18 - Railroad Unionism 566
  • 19 - Some General Aspects of the Labor Movement 583
  • Notes 645
  • Index 715
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