The Labor Philosophy of Samuel Gompers

The Labor Philosophy of Samuel Gompers

The Labor Philosophy of Samuel Gompers

The Labor Philosophy of Samuel Gompers

Excerpt

The Gompers epoch in the history of the American labor movement began in the seventies and eighties. Its end may confidently be placed around the second decade of the present century. This period, encompassing some fifty years in American labor history, may be called an epoch because during it the American labor movement was dominated by a particular and special type of trade unionism; a unionism mostly of crafts, more craft than class conscious, accordingly having no aspiration to control the state; concerned with industry and industrial processes generally only to the extent necessary to wrest from employers higher wages, shorter hours and better working conditions. Superficially it may not seem as though this particular type of union has given up the ghost, or is about to do so. The building trades, the printing trades are still there, pursuing policies and procedures practically identical with those of two or three decades ago. But looking deeper and more closely, is it not apparent that the present decade has brought one defeat after another to this type of unionism; that during this period the American labor movement, dominated by this species of unionism, has become weaker and weaker, and confined to an ever smaller sector of the industrial field? Abroad labor grows more powerful: in England and Australia it has recently assumed the reins of government. In this country the labor movement becomes more and more impotent, less and less important in the life of the nation. It has almost come to the point where one may say that the labor movement in this country will either change its basic philosophy and policies, or there will be no labor movement worth talking about.

This volume, then, deals with the philosophy of a past or . . .

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