Having closely tracked the UAW for more than forty years of its fifty-year history, through two auto worker parents, three years on a Dodge main
assembly line, a decade of working for it, and a husband with thirty-five years as member and staffer, I am convinced that the spirit of Walter Reuther is still alive in the UAW and that, despite some ups and downs, the union, which celebrates its fiftieth birthday this year, has held to the standards of performance set during the long Reuther years, though Walter’s brother, Victor, disagrees.
What has changed is less the union than its context: the heavy siege laid on unionism by its opponents. The war is an old one. American unions, less fortunate than their European counterparts in having American capitalism as their adversary, have always been heavily besieged; but somehow they have pulled through and undoubtedly will again, though not easily....
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