[lbo-talk] Petty Bourgeois (was "Big Business Takes Distance... ")

Jerry Monaco monacojerry at gmail.com
Fri Feb 24 03:23:13 PST 2017

I forget the exact year (1951? Earlier? Later?) I think it could be argued that the retreat of the "left" began when the UAW refused to support the attempt of foremen to organize.


The incident is not how you remember it. After the Big Three were organized by the UAW the Foremen found that there authority and rights were restricted and that there pay was simply not worth the job of being on-line bosses. It was often the case that shop-floor reps... shop stewards... had more respect and power than they did.

The Reuthers and their grouping, were in fact in favor of foremen and middle management organizing in their own unions but the NLRB made it so that there was could only be voluntary recognition by companies of those unions.

The Foremen formed the Foremen's Association of America, which began as a kind of fraternal organization that by the middle of WWII wanted a seat at the table to bargain for their own interests.

By 1944 the union had I think about 50,000 members and struck a plant, I think at Packard. Many UAW members wanted to honor the picket lines. But Reuther obeyed a ruling of the NLRB that the FAA did not have bargaining rights under NLRA. He ordered workers to cross the picket lines and wouldn't defend workers who didn't cross the lines. I believe him that he thought this was a bad but necessary decision. But Reuther was so wedded to the NLRA by this time that he didn't want to rock the boat.

You have to realize that the War Supervisory Board and the NLRB were to some extent competing organizations. The War Supervisory Board told companies that it was the responsibility of the companies to maintain labor peace with their employees and that they should negotiate with the Foremen Association. So for a while at least companies recognized the Foremen Association as a bargaining unit in many industries (steel and auto especially.)

All of this I'm recounting from memory so I might not have it exactly.

On Sun, Feb 12, 2017 at 1:45 PM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

> [This is just a footnote to one passage in Marv's post]
> *** As has been noted, the issue of class position is more complex in
> large and highly stratified public and private enterprises where the line
> between the more highly educated and well paid employees and management is
> often blurred. Here it’s important to note that unions have always taken
> the position that wage and salary earners - including many with supervisory
> responsibilities at all levels - should have the right to organize and
> bargain collectively so long as they don’t have effective control over the
> strategic direction of the organization. Employers have always taken the
> opposite view, and have sought to exclude large numbers from unions
> precisely on grounds they are “managers” rather than employees.
> =====
> l
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