Looking Back on Paul Blanc


During our final class in Intro to Labor Studies, Abe pointed out that in our essay, we as a class did not take Paul Blanc’s piece on Unionism, seriously. I am in fact guilty of that charge.  The reason why I couldn’t get  a better understanding of Blanc because it way too difficult for me to comprehend. I am not sure if it was the style of writing or that I could not seem to grasp the concept.  However, after the Abe expressed his concern, i decided to take another look at Blanc’s piece.

It turns out that Blanc does provide a very good sense of the Labor Movement. It took me a couple of more readings to actually understand Blanc So here it goes…I know you guys do not except to see a whole essay on this blog, but it was the only way for me as a Labor Studies 101 student, whose minor is Labor Studies could understand Blanc’s perception of the American Labor Movement. I ended up writing a 3 pages essay. I will just post up paragraphs, I think are important.

“According to Blanc, by the early 1920’s, America has reached its peak as a liberal democratic country and a prosperous entity to the world.  The working class was facing the wrath of the industries such as huge tycoons like the Ford industries. There was the idea of the American plan, in which corporate industries would hog up all the profit and the laborers only got the thinnest of the thinnest slice of the profit which never translated to the wage they should be really getting. In efforts to suppress the working union members industries would impose the yellow-dog contract, spy systems, company controlled grievances, profit sharing schemes and my most favorite tactic of all; using propaganda to advertise that joining the union is very “un-American”. During the economic collapse that followed through during the 1930s, there came a point where, the workers on the assembly line of the Ford factory couldn’t even afford the cars they made. Workers were too afraid to lose their jobs and corporations sought out all the ways possible, including black listing, to get rid of the cost of labor. Union member once again became slaves to their work bosses and only cared about having a job and forgot about the inspiration of carrying on a labor movement to prevent circumstances like these ( low wages, no seniority, no work etc.). Solution to overcome job abuses lied with in educating the working class. Education builds awareness to seek a better lifestyle, and seeking a better lifestyle urges one to fight for their rightful wages that adjust to inflation and benefits that secure their families. Ministers such as Muster led schools like the Brookwood Labor College in New York State to provide education to the working class. This slight rectification directed the working class to aim towards forming organizations of union to protect their jobs. They used tactics such as picketing and exploiting the treatment of harsh industries using the media. Now that laborers knew of the fact that they can become members of a union, it became vital that these union organizations formed by mine workers, garments workers and clothing workers were actually organized and stood strong for future fights. Such as how the Unites Textile Workers (UTW) had to manage a national strike with very little funding. Of course employers took the strikes as an opportunity to exercise violence upon the strikers . “… Sixteen workers were killed and many more where wounded….15, 000 strikers were black listed”.”…..

Blanc goes on to how the CIO was created and their purpose…and then the t Depression and WWII had on labor movement…. Conveniently, the labor laws which are still followed today, the National  Labor Relations  Act, took place right in between the Great Depression ( During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New deal,  which forever bought the votes of unions for the democratic party)  The major turn in the Labor Movement occured where the government recognized uinoin organizations and decided to regulate business through these labor acts. Members no longer had to strike to bring across a point instead they had every right to arbitrate. Violence was slowly fading out.After the WWII, the government was trying to push back the Labor Movement back to square one because  the big US industries found other means of  cheap labor and no longer had to worry about strikes hurting their businesses. At this point the whole concept of Unionism no longer was a strong point. Members considered union organizations a a different entity, and since some companies already provided a 40 hour work week and benefits, workers thought that they did not need to form a union and thought that and union action might take away what they already have.

Union leaders such as Hillman of the ACW proposed economical ideas such as highly taxing the rich, price controls by the government and equitable variation of commodities. The economic bill of rights also presented itself with the idea of full employment, adjusted wages, aid to farmer, government regulations and etc. However, for the labor movement  of America, whatever progression was made pre war was not enough. There was still inequality in the workforce, due to the fact that soliders who fought the war needed their jobs back, and the women and black Americans who where substituting for War time had to leave.

The concept of the Cold War labeled radical unions as socialist communists. Using propaganda, it was easy to make the public or even union members think that the organizations they were a part of were radical communist. The after taste that the Cold War left turned out to be that such unions were of course un-American and opposed free enterprise and insulted modern capitalism. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1946 was passed to de-radicalize excessive union powers.  This act imposed that union members could not join communist parties, limitations to strikes and boycotts and no funding political parties.

Profit was the key word to American industries and cheap labor meant lower costs and lower costs higher profit significantly. This worked at full advantage for the free enterprise and anything that represented American capitalism. In effect anything that was opposed to it was a big No-No.  Anything that related to the idea of communism and Marxism  referring to the old Soviet Union and Asia was shunned upon The power of media was used to re-educate the public of the term of free enterprise and how “American” it is. As globalization was in favor of profit of big U.S. industries it became a part of one of the three “Big’s”, which was Big Business. The other two Bigs was Big Labor for greater and bigger unions and Big Government for global stability……

…hopefully this blog offers like a study guide type of thing for my classmates, especially when writing their papers…..

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