Employers, Unite! Organized Employer Reactions to the Labor Union Challenge in the Progressive Era

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/203492
Title:
Employers, Unite! Organized Employer Reactions to the Labor Union Challenge in the Progressive Era
Author:
Hulden, Vilja
Issue Date:
2011
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
"Employers, Unite!" argues that the anti-union campaign of Progressive-Era organized employers molded in crucial ways the shape of labor relations in the United States, and that to understand the development of ideas about work, business, and labor unions, we need to understand how these employers gained and wielded political and societal power.The study concentrates on the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which spearheaded what it termed the "open-shop'' campaign. Focusing attention on the unions' demand for the closed or union shop, the NAM shifted the debate over labor relations from workplace conditions to the legitimacy of unions as representatives of workers, identifying not employers but union leaders as the source of injustices.At the heart of the study is an analysis of over 100 active members of the NAM, organized through a relational database constructed with the help of recently digitized materials like local histories and biographical compendia. Besides basic information like company size or demographics, the database maps information about NAM members' social and political contacts. Substantial archival materials further ground the study's analysis of the NAM's structure and influence.Research on the membership has allowed me to uncover information that focusing on the leadership would not have revealed. For example, I have found that a high percentage of active NAM members were party activists and officials, mostly in the Republican party; their positions in the party hierarchy gave them influence over political nominations and Congressional committee appointments. Active NAM members also regularly had personal contacts to politicians ranging from governors to Senators; these contacts further bolstered the Association's power, enabling it to torpedo much of labor's legislative project.The study also compares the NAM to other business organizations, especially the National Civic Federation (NCF). The NCF promoted cooperation with moderate unions, a position which the NAM frequently and vehemently criticized. Rhetorical differences, however, masked an underlying agreement among businessmen regarding the undesirability of unions. The rhetorical disjuncture between the organizations served to constrain debate on labor relations: the NAM's stridency made the NCF appear genuinely progressive and thereby undercut other, more far-reaching critiques of existing workplace relations.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
labor; National Association of Manufacturers; National Civic Federation; Progressive Era; History; business influence in politics; employer organizations
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; History
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Gibbs, David

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleEmployers, Unite! Organized Employer Reactions to the Labor Union Challenge in the Progressive Eraen_US
dc.creatorHulden, Viljaen_US
dc.contributor.authorHulden, Viljaen_US
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstract"Employers, Unite!" argues that the anti-union campaign of Progressive-Era organized employers molded in crucial ways the shape of labor relations in the United States, and that to understand the development of ideas about work, business, and labor unions, we need to understand how these employers gained and wielded political and societal power.The study concentrates on the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which spearheaded what it termed the "open-shop'' campaign. Focusing attention on the unions' demand for the closed or union shop, the NAM shifted the debate over labor relations from workplace conditions to the legitimacy of unions as representatives of workers, identifying not employers but union leaders as the source of injustices.At the heart of the study is an analysis of over 100 active members of the NAM, organized through a relational database constructed with the help of recently digitized materials like local histories and biographical compendia. Besides basic information like company size or demographics, the database maps information about NAM members' social and political contacts. Substantial archival materials further ground the study's analysis of the NAM's structure and influence.Research on the membership has allowed me to uncover information that focusing on the leadership would not have revealed. For example, I have found that a high percentage of active NAM members were party activists and officials, mostly in the Republican party; their positions in the party hierarchy gave them influence over political nominations and Congressional committee appointments. Active NAM members also regularly had personal contacts to politicians ranging from governors to Senators; these contacts further bolstered the Association's power, enabling it to torpedo much of labor's legislative project.The study also compares the NAM to other business organizations, especially the National Civic Federation (NCF). The NCF promoted cooperation with moderate unions, a position which the NAM frequently and vehemently criticized. Rhetorical differences, however, masked an underlying agreement among businessmen regarding the undesirability of unions. The rhetorical disjuncture between the organizations served to constrain debate on labor relations: the NAM's stridency made the NCF appear genuinely progressive and thereby undercut other, more far-reaching critiques of existing workplace relations.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectlaboren_US
dc.subjectNational Association of Manufacturersen_US
dc.subjectNational Civic Federationen_US
dc.subjectProgressive Eraen_US
dc.subjectHistoryen_US
dc.subjectbusiness influence in politicsen_US
dc.subjectemployer organizationsen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineHistoryen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorGibbs, Daviden_US
dc.contributor.committeememberAnderson, Karenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSchaller, Michaelen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGibbs, Daviden_US
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