This book has many virtues. It is a well-documented, well-written and lively study of one of the crucial periods in modern labor history: the triumph of the UAW-CIO over that citadel of the open shop, the Ford Motor Company, and the domination this company had over the black community in Detroit. It is an authoritative review of the men and the events that molded the city of Detroit in this period of race and class violence. The authors restore to prominence some of the forgotten black and white militants who undertook the dangerous task of unionizing Ford.
Above all, the authors have succeeded in presenting a balanced appraisal of the relations between blacks and the UAW, which is in marked contrast to the many biased studies that have flooded the market in recent years. Their conclusions, in my opinion unassailable, are worth quoting:
The entire history of the relations between black Detroit and the UAW have been characterized by a striking ambiguity. On the one hand, the union has protected seniority rights, fostered greater economic security, and aided the blacks’ movement into production and assembly line jobs outside the foundry. On the other hand, the constraints placed upon the internatio...
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