Labor’s “Vatican II”

Labor’s “Vatican II”

Without fanfare, in the recession summer of 1982, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO appointed a special committee to “review and evaluate changes that are taking place in America in the labor force, occupations, industries, and technology.” Who would have suspected that this posse, with the academic sounding name of the Committee on the Evolution of Work, would be the beginning of American labor’s Vatican II? But it was, and the potential impact on U.S. unionism is as profound as that of Vatican II on the Catholic
Church.

It took two and a half years for the public—and for the unions—to find out where this committee was headed. It may take several more years to judge how valuable the initiative of the committee really was. But of this there can be no doubt: American unions are desperately in search of new goals and new methods.

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Lima