American Labor Unions and Politics, 1900-1918

American Labor Unions and Politics, 1900-1918

American Labor Unions and Politics, 1900-1918

American Labor Unions and Politics, 1900-1918

Excerpt

The amalgamation of the AF of L-CIO in 1955 led many commentators of the mass media to declare that the labor unions would now possess the political strength to win control of the government. Such statements, designed to alarm the country and arouse antilabor feelings, implied that the participation of unions in politics was a new and threatening development. Actually, organized labor has always been in politics. Sometimes its only activity was lobbying for labor legislation and at other times this was combined with active participation in political campaigns. The greater the involvement of the modern American union movement in politics, the more the movement, its membership, and America gained. Labor in politics is as American as beans and baseball and Coca-Cola and corn.

The major purpose of this book is to examine and evaluate labor's political involvement as it developed in the years between 1900 and 1918. The future political development of American labor will be aided if people both inside and outside the unions acquire a deeper understanding of labor's political history. An examination of labor's political activity from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of World War I reveals its political theory and political behavior in both war and peace. The political pattern in many ways--pragmatic in philosophy, opportunistic in method, and limited in goals--was typically American. Herein was its strength and weakness.

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THE SUBJECT of this study was originally suggested by Professor Harold J. Laski in 1947 as we consulted about the topic of my doctoral dissertation which he was to supervise. When I told him that I was interested in exploring the relationship between the British . . .

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