The Hard Road to Union Democracy

The Hard Road to Union Democracy

About the steel workers’ union only one thing can be said with assurance: no ready-made formula will take us far on the road to understanding.

Here is an important section of the classical “proletariat”; yet in consciousness, initiative and militancy it has lagged behind many other industrial unions. The role provided for it by the Marxist scheme remains unfilled; the expectations raised by liberal desires, unsatisfied. Its leader, David J. DcDonald, seems closer to images of mass advertising than to traditions of American unionism. Pipe in hand, jaw set, profile more or less firm, he looks like the ideal homeowner to whom the bank will be pleased to extend a solid loan. By comparison Walter Reuther is the height of intellectuality, George Meany the essence of plebeian authenticity.

For a good many years the steel union functioned as a conservative force within the CIO, often on the verge of breaking away from the more “socially-conscious̶...

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