Labor as a Changing Social Class
Greenstone’s (1969) thesis held that labor’s consumer interests increasingly took precedence over its earlier concern with its economic well-being. Labor now speaks both for its members and for all consumers as a class. This thesis raises questions about class similarities and differences between union members and consumers. Where labor unions have organized most of a nation’s labor force as in Scandinavia, union officials can justifiably claim to speak for the nation’s workers and consumers. But labor officials often make this claim even when union members are not representative of the nation’s consumers. Thus, U.S. labor leaders routinely state that their political aims are not selfish but are designed to help the working class, the middle class, and consumers in general. Labor’s opponents question this claim and insist that labor has become a smaller special interest group that speaks only for itself.
KeywordsLabor Force Union Member Union Membership Service Worker Clerical Worker
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