A Union of Individuals: The Formation of the American Newspaper Guild, 1933-1936

A Union of Individuals: The Formation of the American Newspaper Guild, 1933-1936

A Union of Individuals: The Formation of the American Newspaper Guild, 1933-1936

A Union of Individuals: The Formation of the American Newspaper Guild, 1933-1936

Excerpt

"Show me two white collar workers on a picket line, and I'll organize the entire working class." Samuel Gompers made this comment in criticism of what he considered the failure of these workers as a class to recognize where their real interests lay. Prior to the Great Depression, few white collar workers thought their interests lay with organized labor. Some small white collar unions did exist, mostly in the fields of entertainment (e.g., musicians, actors) and public service (e.g., postal workers, teachers), but in general white collar workers considered themselves superior to other classes of wage earners and above unionization.

At the time of Gompers' remark, white collar workers (even given the varying definitions of the term) comprised but a small percentage of the American labor force. And despite the great expansion of the white collar class in the 1920s, none of the 1930 estimates of its size placed it at much more than a quarter of the total work force. Since then a dramatic change has taken place and the United States has become the first major industrial nation in which manual or blue collar workers have ceased to be the largest single occupational group.

Yet Gompers' remark about white collar workers has retained its pertinence in terms of that group's self-image in the United States . . .

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