Radical unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950
In Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950 Rosemary Feurer examines the fierce battles between Midwestern electrical workers and bitterly anti-union electrical and metal industry companies during the 1930s and 40s. Organized as District 8 of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE) and led by open Communist William Sentner, workers developed a style of unionism designed to confront corporate power and to be a force for social transformation in their community and nation.
Feurer studies District 8 through a long lens, establishing early twentieth century contexts for these conflicts. Exploring the role of radicals in local movement formation, Feurer argues for a "civic" unionism that could connect community and union concerns to build solidarity and contest the political economy. District 8's spirited unionism included plant occupations in St. Louis and Iowa, campaigns to democratize economic planning, and local strategies for national bargaining that were depicted as a Communist conspiracy by a corporate influenced Congressional committee in Evansville, Indiana. District 8 was destroyed through reactionary networks and the anti-Communist backlash of the mid-twentieth century, but Feurer argues that its history tells another side of the labor movementís formation in the 1930s and Ď40s, and can inform current struggles against corporate power in the modern global economy.††
A website with more photographs and documents is available at www.radicalunionism.niu.edu†
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The Militant Minority in the St Louis Electrical Industry
A Vision of Unionism Takes Shape
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activists African Americans American anticommunism anticommunist antiunion April August author's interview black workers campaign Century Electric committee Communist community-based contract convention December democratic developed District 8's Electrical Workers Emerson workers employers Evansville faction February FEPC File Folder industry Iowa issues James Carey James Click James Matles James Payne January Julius Emspak July June Kraschel labor market labor movement leaders leadership Left leftist Lloyd Austin Logsdon to James March Maytag meeting membership metal trades Missouri Newton NMTA November nut pickers October officers party picket planning plant political postwar radical Reel refused Report Robert Logsdon Sentner to James September Servel shop steward sit-down SLGD SLPD SLST social Socialist sought stewards strategies strike strikers struggle Symington tion trade union Transcript University unprocessed WSP voted wage Wagner WHMC William Sentner women