In the 1920s critics of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) “pointed repeatedly to the same weaknesses: the emphasis on a craft structure, the ignoring of industrial unionism, jurisdictional disputes, inertia in organizing the unorganized, weak or tyrannical or corrupt leadership, philosophic individualism, fraternization with businessmen, and political impotence,” observed the historian Irving Bernstein in The Lean Years.
Union membership declined sharply during ...
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