Dean of the College Presents
The End of Labor Unions. So what?
Presented by David Kettler
The industrial movement of organized labor, in the United States as in most modernized nations, was arguably among the most consequential political developments of the twentieth century. If one reads the most authoritative political science studies of the 1970s, the key characterizations would have to do with the "welfare rights" institutionalized in the "welfare state," the universal rise in living standards ("new middle class") and the "pluralist" or "neo-corporatist" modes of democracy that built and sustained those arrangements. This reading was as pervasive among conservative or radical critics as it was in the "mainstream" of informed political commentary. To the extent that these readings were more than ideological counters to the Communist ideological threat, they were accurate. And the better analysts knew that these arrangements were first of all a function of the place that organized labor had at various key bargaining tables. If one looks at the present day labor union statistics in the places where they were a major factor, they have effectively ceased to matter, except in Scandinavia. The question why? is a subject of specialized studies. The question what then? is an urgent topic among union professionals and intellectuals. But the modest topic of my talk is to share some indicators of the change, and to discuss some consequences.
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Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Olin, Room 102