Blue Collar Man: Patterns of Dual Allegiance in Industry

Blue Collar Man: Patterns of Dual Allegiance in Industry

Blue Collar Man: Patterns of Dual Allegiance in Industry

Blue Collar Man: Patterns of Dual Allegiance in Industry

Excerpt

On the banks of the Kaw River before it sweeps into the Missouri, rises a jumble of factory buildings, the Kansas City plant of Swift & Company, the meat packer. Here also is Local 12 of the National Brotherhood of Packinghouse Workers' Union. Miles to the east, across the wide Mississippi from St. Louis, the National Stockyards Swift plant juts out of the marshy prairie. Here Local 78 of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters Union represents the workers. To the north, on Chicago's southwest side, in mile-square Packingtown, stands the Chicago Swift plant and Local 28 of the United Packinghouse Workers. The men and women working in these three plants and belonging to these three unions are, I would like to think, the ultimate tellers of this story.

The typical American factory worker belongs to two partly overlapping work societies, his company plant and his local union. Because these two organizations have different goals, there is built-in conflict within the local plant itself. In spite of this conflict, we found, in The Worker Speaks His Mind on Company and Union, that the Chicago packinghouse workers wanted both company, and union to live and let live. We found that they had "dual allegiance" to their company and their union. They did not feel that their allegiance or approval was like a cake, that company and union divide, so that one side's gain would mean the other side's loss.

This dual allegiance finding, along with similar findings of other research, has attracted some attention. People came to see that American factory workers, although mostly unionized, were not necessarily antimanagement. Others were interested to learn that workers might sincerely support the union movement though not always participating actively in it. A small number felt that the finding of dual allegiance was flatly obvious, scarcely meaningful, or even completely false.

Certainly the concept of dual allegiance needed clarification, especially regarding strike behavior and other company and union attitudes. I shall attempt this clarification especially in the four chapters on company allegiance, union allegiance, strikes, and finally on dual allegiance. This book explores the packinghouse workers' many company-related and union-related attitudes and feelings, but our unifying theme is the workers' dual allegiance or, as some call it, their dual loyalty.

I thank those whose grants made possible this rather expensive type . . .

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