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Does the U.S. Labor Movement Have a Future?

Michael D. Yates


In 1935 the American Federation of Labor held its annual convention in Atlantic City. It was a tumultuous meeting. Workers throughout the nation's mass production industries were in a state of revolt against the devastation wrought by the Great Depression. Within the AFL there was a sharp split between the craft unionists like Bill Hutcheson, who found the organization of unskilled industrial workers repugnant, and the radicals like John L. Lewis, who understood that only massive industrial unionization would save the labor movement from extinction. During acrimonious debate, Lewis threw his famous punch into Hutcheson's face, and the split soon became a secession, marked by the birth of the CIO. The rest, as they say, is history.



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