Last Man In: Racial Access to Union Power

Last Man In: Racial Access to Union Power

Last Man In: Racial Access to Union Power

Last Man In: Racial Access to Union Power


The local union is always the unit of membership. It is here that the members belong to the union and here that the union is exposed to its members. Membership in the international is indirect, through the local. At the level of the locals, the labor movement may be observed in the behavior of given, concrete social groups.

The points at which rank and file participation is possible are as follows; (1) in some locals the members meet as a plant unit to consider issues, select plantwide officers and, in some cases, elect executive board members for the executive board of the larger organization (2) the total membership of the local meets to consider routine business and (3) the total membership of the local meets periodically to elect the "local- wide" officers, vote on contracts and consider strike action. The first type of meeting will be called "Plant Unit meetings," the second, "General Membership meetings" and the third, "Special Election meetings."

The routing meetings are usually monthly and are conducted in the terms of parliamentary procedure; their etiquette is derived from Robert's Rules of Order. The associational form of the local union is, thus, one common to voluntary associations in America. The amount of membership participation in the various types of meetings will be described, followed by an analysis of leadership groups.

Participation in Plant Unit Meetings:

Plant Unit meetings occur only in the industrial locals of the sample. In six locals they are held regularly, having many of the functions for the plant group which the General Membership meeting has for the local as a whole; in the other locals they are held only when specific issues arise that concern the plant membership. A high rate of attendance is usual at those locals which have shop meetings only for a crisis. More important, however, is the high attendance in those locals which have routine monthly Plant Unit meetings. The average for these is over one-half the members, ranging from nearly 100 per cent to fifteen per cent. This average is five times the usual attendance for the General Membership meetings.

The most obvious reason for the difference is the spatial . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.