AFL Attitudes toward Production, 1900-1932

AFL Attitudes toward Production, 1900-1932

AFL Attitudes toward Production, 1900-1932

AFL Attitudes toward Production, 1900-1932

Excerpt

Perhaps some day the real history of the labor movement may be written, but not now. We are too close to events to get proportions, or to estimate the dynamic power of policies, movements, or men --things are yet too warm from human contact to be estimated coolly and impartially.--SAMUEL GOMPERS

MORE than twenty years have elapsed since I chose the subject "Trade Union Interest in Production" for an honors paper at Wellesley College, later expanding it into a doctoral dissertation at Radcliffe College in 1933. At that time considerable public interest was focused on various experiments in union-management cooperation which seemed to promise a veritable revolution in trade union thought and techniques. Reviewing the report of the Committee on Recent Economic Changes (1929), Wesley Mitchell observed:

Perhaps none of the changes reported here will prove more important in the long run than the changes in the economic theories on which the American Federation of Labor and certain outside unions are acting. That organizations of wage earners should grasp the relations between productivity and wages, and that they should take the initiative in pressing constructive plans for increasing efficiency upon employers, is not wholly without precedent; but the spread of such ideas and the vigor with which they are acted upon by large organizations must startle those who have believed that trade unions are brakes upon economic progress.

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