Unlikely Partners: Philanthropic Foundations and the Labor Movement

By Richard Magat | Go to book overview

15 Prospects

A major shift of strategy by the labor movement, and of attitudes toward it by various parts of the public, began with the changing of the guard at the AFL-CIO in 1995 when John Sweeney was elected president in the first contested election in the organization's history. Enhancing the new look was the elevation of Richard Trumka ( head of the United Mine Workers and veteran of the foundation-supported Miners for Democracy movement) to secretary-treasurer, and election of the first woman to a top office (executive vice president), Linda Chavez-Thompson of AFSCME.

Sweeney's accession energized labor's outreach to old and new constituencies, including the intellectual-academic community, with which foundations have always had an affinity. The strong bonds liberals and intellectuals forged with organized labor in the 1930s and 1940s had loosened after World War II. Disenchantment arose from disclosures of corruption and racketeering, jurisdictional disputes, featherbedding, denial of the democratic rights of members, and, as one historian put it, "the failure of spirit and imagination to stage forceful drives for new adherents in territories untouched by unions." 1 Union purges of Communist elements and continued discrimination against minorities also cooled the ardor of many intellectuals. Unflagging AFL-CIO loyalty to White House policies throughout the cold war, and during the Vietnam War in particular, further distanced labor from potential allies among intellectuals. But one month after Sweeney's election, forty-three men and women representing the top rank of American sociologists, economists, historians, editors, and philosophers issued a statement celebrating "the rebirth of a strong and progressive labor movement." The statement declared:

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Unlikely Partners: Philanthropic Foundations and the Labor Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction - An Untold Tale 1
  • 1: Social Order, Social Progress 7
  • 2: Dimensions of Connection and Mistrust 28
  • 3: Congressional Intervention 41
  • 4: Research 52
  • 5: Black Workers 77
  • 6: Working Women 90
  • 7: Farm and Southern Labor 101
  • 8: Education 113
  • 9: Labor Education 126
  • 10: Health, Safety, Environment 136
  • 11: Economic Development 151
  • 12: Public Policy 160
  • 13: Union Democracy 167
  • 14: Organizing 172
  • 15: Prospects 181
  • Conclusion 190
  • Notes 195
  • Index 233
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