A PART OF THE
This is the trouble with the American Labor Movement. It is becoming a part of the "Establishment."
— Walter Reuther, 1966
They are striking against us, they are striking against Walter Reuther. We are the victims of anarchy.
- General Motors official, 1967
In the mid-1960s Reuther probed, for one last time, the outer limits of the Treaty of Detroit. These years were the high noon of American capitalism in this century, a time when unemployment sank below 4 percent, wages outpaced inflation, and corporate profitability reached a postwar peak. For white workers as well as black, for skilled trades veterans as well as the most streetwise youth, this was an era of rising expectations and rising militancy. American liberalism was feeling the strain, but if ever there was a moment in which the ground that had been lost during a generation of union retreat and left-wing defeat was to be retaken, these were the years of opportunity.
As unemployment dropped, shop tensions rose. Between 1964 and 1973 all the indexes that have traditionally measured "militancy"—strikes, wildcat stoppages, per capita grievances, contract rejections—reached their postwar heights. Indeed,