Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and Union Organization

By Jerry Lembcke | Go to book overview

The Effect

It could be argued that the ways in which workers are represented in decisions on organizing policies is a valid indicator of class-based collective action only if they have distinguishable results. In other words, do unit forms of representation better serve working-class interests than per-capita forms?

The IWA and UAW cases provide strong evidence that unit forms of representation stimulate organizing. The internal comparison of the IWA's Pacific Northwest and British Columbian Districts is particularly compelling. The Mine-Mill case is valuable as an exception that proves the rule. For a brief period Mine-Mill grew with a per- capita form of representation. It grew, however, in ways that were contradictory, so that by the mid-1940s it again stagnated and the Connecticut region, which accounted for much of its growth in the late 1930s, turned into an enormous impediment to additional growth. Moreover, Mine-Mill survived as long as it did only because Reid Robinson was able to circumvent both the obstructionism of the Butte local and the disruptive intervention of the CIO national office. Mine-Mill grew and survived, in other words, despite its own fiscal organizational logic, not because of it.

It would be a mistake, however, to base the validity of this analysis solely on the record of union performance under various forms of representation. Representation forms are only one of a multitude of variables to be taken into account. They are important mediating structures and at specific historical junctures they may be decisive. In a case like the UAW, which grew for several years during and after World War II, the indecisiveness of the organizational variable does not mean that it ceased to be a factor. The logic connecting class forces with organization forms and organizational behavior was present, if not dominant.


CONCLUSION

From the three case studies examined in this chapter it is clearly established that there was a pattern to organizational preferences of working-class fractions. In each case it was the most proletarianized fractions of the work force that pursued representation forms tending to unit rule. The least proletarianized fractions pursued per-capita forms of representation. Moreover, the arguments used in support of each form were very different. The supporters of unit rule emphasized class solidarity and the need to build class power. The supporters

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Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and Union Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Labor Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - From Organizational Democracy to Organizational Efficacy: Toward a Class Analysis of Union Organization 1
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - Historical Problems and Theoretical Advances in the Study of U.S. Working-Class Capacities 25
  • Introduction 62
  • Introduction 65
  • Conclusion 108
  • Note 109
  • 4 - Class Capacities and Labor Internationalism: The Case of the Cio-Ccl Unions 111
  • Introduction 111
  • 5 - There Was a Difference: Communist and Noncommunist Leadership in Cio Unions 133
  • Introduction 133
  • SUMMARY 153
  • 6 - Uneven Development, Class Formation, and Organization Theory: New Departures for Understanding Current Struggles 155
  • Introduction 155
  • SUMMARY 174
  • Notes 176
  • Appendix 177
  • References 185
  • Index 195
  • About the Author 205
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