Contemporary Unionism in the United States

Contemporary Unionism in the United States

Contemporary Unionism in the United States

Contemporary Unionism in the United States


Books relating to American unionism may be divided into three principal categories. In the first are the labor textbooks, designed primarily for classroom use in colleges and universities. Large in size and encyclopaedic in content, they deal not only with unionism but with a host of other labor matters. While all of these books tell their readers a great deal about unionism, the wide scope of their coverage generally limits the extent of their story.

In the second category are the specialized, original-research books, which usually deal with narrow aspects of unionism. Generally written in a sober fashion, with a multitude of footnotes and source references, these books are very useful to the specialist in the field. It is from them that the textbook writers get much of their information.

In the third and final category are the popular, journalistic books relating to unionism and unionists. While they may not be as profound, nor possibly as objective, as the books in the first two categories, they are more exciting and have greater appeal to the general reader.

The present book on unionism cannot very well be fitted into any of the above categories, though it bears some resemblance to the books in each of them. It is narrower in its subject matter than the first, less detailed than those in the second, and more restrained than those in the third.

The book represents an attempt to describe and analyze, in an objective and comprehensive fashion, American unionism as it exists today. A considerable amount of attention is given to historical background, not only in Chapters 2 and 3, but in other chapters as well. The subject matter of the book, however, is essentially contemporary. Unions are studied as "going concerns." And the directions in which they are going are carefully examined. A large part of the book has to do with what unions in this country are doing--what they are doing economically, politically, educationally, and socially. Since a union is what it does, no excuse need be given for this emphasis on activities or functions. The question of union structure is by no means overlooked, however. Structure and function are closely interrelated and the former cannot very well be neglected.

While practically the whole book had been written when the Taft-Hartley Bill was passed, it has been altered in the light of this measure. Most of the major features of the new act, and some of the minor ones as well, are described, though they are not discussed at any length. The adoption of the Taft-Hartley Bill undoubtedly marks the beginning of a new era in the history of labor-management relations in this country and in the history of American unionism. The full significance and the detailed characteristics . . .

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