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The claim that organized labor has been a force for racial egalitarianism can only be called a myth. It is one of the many myths that pro-union historians have perpetuated--similar to those, for example, that unorganized workers suffered from an "inequality of bargaining power" (Reynolds 1991), that strikes are conflicts between employers and employees rather than between different groups of employees, or that violence was more often employed against than by unions (Thieblot and Haggard 1983). Perhaps the greatest myth of all is that organized labor is good for workers generally. In fact, unions transfer income from the unorganized to the organized, and depress total income to such a degree that even organized workers are poorer (Vedder and Gallaway 2002). This article gives an account of the ways in which unions have used racial discrimination as an economic weapon. Before the Civil War, labor leaders claimed that the classical liberal, antislavery vision of "free labor" actually established "wage slavery" for white workers. The former slaves, excluded from white unions, often had to fight their way into industrial employment as strikebreakers. Organized labor lobbied for decades for special legislation that would enable them to make their strikes effective. When they finally achieved this in the New Deal, the federal government faced the problem of securing "fair representation" for black workers. This ended up producing affirmative action after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

GENRE
Politics & Current Events
RELEASED
2010
January 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
27
Pages
PUBLISHER
Cato Institute
SELLER
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.
SIZE
250.7
KB

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