Whether labor unions are good for America is now controversial. A decade ago John Kenneth Galbraith’s analysis that unions were a necessary “countervailing power” was widely accepted, but recently corporate America has legitimated a new paternalism. Today liberals, radicals, conservatives, and reactionaries disagree about labor’s role in society. But they agree on a related issue, the nature of the labor movement: the new unions of the 1930s have responded to the challenges thrown up by the ever larger corporations by becoming bureaucratic institutions. Labor and management reached an accommodation after the TaftHartley bill was passed, and the collectivebargaining system was collectivized. As contracts became lon...
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