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It's therefore much more likely that liberals and labor leaders were able to pass this legislation for very different reasons than what historical institutionalists or Marxists claim. First and foremost, the liberal-labor alliance was able to convince most moderate and conservative Democrats in Congress to vote for the act willingly by excluding agricultural and domestic labor from its purview. This purposeful exclusion meant that the great bulk of the southern workforce would not be covered, making it easier for Southern Democrats to support the legislation (cf., Farhang and Katznelson 2005). The exclusion of farm labor also made it easier for the Progressive Republicans of the Midwest to vote for the act. Translated into class terms, the exclusion of agricultural and domestic workers meant that the Southern segment of the ownership class did not have any direct stake in opposing the act, so Southern Democrats in Congress were free to support their Northern counterparts instead of voting with Northern Republicans, as they usually did on labor legislation. Contrary to historical institutionalists, then, the corporate leaders did not lose power in general despite the calamity of the depression. Instead, they lost on this issue because their key allies, the plantation owners, did not stick with them.

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The family's main corporate base was in the DuPont Corporation, which had grown very large during World War I through munitions orders from the government. It was the tenth-largest American corporation in 1933, when it earned $26 million despite the depression; by 1936, its profits were over $90 million (Zilg 1974, p. 345). Although no big fan of employee representation plans, it was a member of the Special Conference Committee. In addition, the family owned about 25% of the stock in General Motors, the third-largest corporation in 1933, and about 20% of the stock in United States Rubber, both of which were also in the Special Conference Committee. It also owned the National Bank of Detroit and the Wilmington Trust Company and had at least partial ownership in Continental American Life Insurance, North American Aviation, and Remington Arms Company.

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Hicks went on to explain that it would not be fair to allow union leaders to "have a free hand to secure members on a voluntary basis" while at the same time saying that "such men as Mr. Teagle, Mr. Swope, and Mr. Kirstein should be forbidden to encourage and cultivate cooperative relations with their own employees..." Wagner replied with a cordial thank-you letter two weeks later, but a prohibition against employee representation plans sponsored by a company nonetheless appeared in the first draft of the legislation in early February. At that point the corporate representatives on the National Labor Board began planning a dinner meeting with Wagner for February 13, during which they hoped to convince him to adopt their plan for organizing the board for its current work, with Hicks playing an administrative role. But no changes were made on the basis of the dinner meeting.

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Labor Union Quotes - Notable Quotes

Thus, the process and content of collective bargaining is actually a complicated power relationship that embodies the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. Its existence reveals the power of labor, but the narrowness of the unions and the substance of what is bargained about reflect the power of capital. Collective bargaining is "both a result of labor's power as well as a vehicle to control workers' struggles and channel them in a path compatible with capitalist development" (Ramirez 1978, p. 215). Drawing on Kimeldorf's (2013) new formulation concerning the importance of replacement costs in union success in that era, Ramirez's point can be generalized to say that unionization is possible when workers can exercise a disruptive potential that threatens profits. That is, the unions that were organized in the late ninetieth and early twentieth centuries had a high disruptive capacity that was rooted in the difficulty (and thus high costs) of finding replacement workers in the face of strikes. Sometimes these replacement costs were due to skill barriers, as in the case of the typographers and construction workers mentioned earlier, but replacement costs could also be high for companies that had fast turn-around times or had geographically isolated work sites that scared away potential replacement workers.

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City officials called out the local militia, but its members were reluctant to use force against workers who were part of their own community. The governor asked for federal troops, leading to a clash in which workers stopped trains and destroyed railroad property. The strike rapidly spread to other nearby cities. The violence was especially extensive in Pittsburgh, already a growing industrial center based in the iron and steel industry. When militia brought in from Philadelphia fired at the demonstrators, killing several people, the angry mob burned down 39 buildings and destroyed 104 locomotives and 1,245 freight and passenger cars. The strike became national in scope, drawing in nearly 100,000 workers and at one point stopping half the nation's rail freight from moving (Bruce 1959; Foner 1977). In all, governors in seven different states had to call out their militia.

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Within this limited perspective, the NCF and other corporate moderates seemed to be having at least some success in their first two years. Leaders in the new employers' associations not only signed agreements with their workers, but spoke favorably of the NCF and its work. None was in a major mass-production industry, however, and the new era did not last very long. As the unions' membership grew and they began making more demands, the employers' dislike of unions resurfaced accordingly. In other words, class conflict once again emerged, which soon led to organized opposition to unions within the very same employer associations that had been created to encourage trade agreements. This sequence of events reveals the difficulties of maintaining cross-class coalitions, which were to break down more often than not in future decades as well. Either the workers try to impose conditions that employers find unreasonable, or else some employers, known as "chiselers" in that era, try to gain market share or earn higher profits by undercutting the terms of the agreement.