The Labor Leader: An Exploratory Study

By Eli Ginzberg; Joseph Carwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
The Background of American Labor Leaders

THE background of American labor leaders can be sketched only after the term "labor leader" has been defined. Is every union official a leader or is the term applicable only to presidents of large national and international unions? If a leader be one who influences the thoughts and actions of others, the number of labor leaders is legion. So broad a definition is not useful.

Alternatively, incumbents of particular posts, such as the members of the executive boards of national or international unions, can be defined as labor leaders. This approach might appear arbitrary, but it can easily be defended. Aside from the convention, the executive board is the highest power in the union. Every active competitor for a leadership post aspires to membership on the executive board of his union, and the president is almost always chosen from this group.

There is a practical reason for limiting this study of labor leaders to executive-board members. A preliminary survey disclosed that although it would prove difficult to secure factual information about executive-board members, reliable data about other leaders were almost completely lacking.

Concentrating on the executive board has its dangers. Some men doubtless succeed in being elected to the executive boards of their unions even though they do not possess the hallmarks of true leadership. Accident or politics catapults them into prominent posts. And the reverse is also true: in almost every union a few powerful leaders do not become members of the executive board.

With labor leaders defined as executive-board members, the next phase of the study was to select a representative group of

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The Labor Leader: An Exploratory Study
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One- Leaders and Leadership 1
  • Chapter I- The Leader 3
  • Chapter II- The Neglect of Leadership 13
  • Chapter III- Types of Leadership 22
  • Chapter IV- Labor Leadership 30
  • Part Two- American Labor Leaders 39
  • Chapter V- The Background of American Labor Leaders 41
  • Chapter VI- Of Time in Office 55
  • Chapter VII- The Power of the Purse 68
  • Part Three- Labor Leaders in Action 81
  • Chapter VIII- The Parkinstown Local 83
  • Part Four- Tomorrow''s Labor Leaders 171
  • Chapter IX- Labor Leader--Bureaucrat or Statesman 173
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index of Names 191
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