Conflicts in a Progressive Union

Conflicts in a Progressive Union

For almost two generations Local 1199, a militant union of poor and minority hospital workers, has been extolled both as a force for change in its members’ lives and as an advocate for progressive policies in urban and union politics. Important improvements in wages and working conditions went hand in hand with the union’s presence in the political world. Rarely was there a demonstration to protest civil rights abuses, to oppose the Vietnam War, or to reverse the nation’s nuclear policy that did not have its 1199 contingent—visible, vocal, vibrant. During the last two decades especially the example of this union (whose membership never grew significantly above 100,000) served as a model to those attracted to the ideal of a dynamic interracial union whose institutional politics engaged yet transcended the narrow “porkchop” approach dominant in the labor movement.

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima