Organizational Reform or Movement Revival?
Many social scientists are pessimistic about the future of the American labor movement. Their pessimism stems from their attachment to a vision of a labor movement that furthers working-class interests through social democratic means. By contrast, most labor leaders and union members see their movement as the way to further their job security and economic well-being. The source of disparity is the tendency of all labor movements to involve an inherent tension between two goals: a union democracy that encompasses the interests of the entire working class or a bread-and-butter unionism that advances the interests of certain occupations. The enormous literature on the American exception reflects the inability of many scholars to understand why American labor leaders, unlike their European counterparts, did not lead the labor movement to create or support social democratic parties dedicated to advancing the power, status, and political power of the working classes (see Laslett and Lipset 1984.
KeywordsSocial Movement Collective Bargaining Union Member Democratic Party American Labor
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