American Workers, American Unions
By Robert H. Zieger
The Johns Hopkins University Press
When published in 1986, American Workers, American Unions was among the first efforts to trace the contentious relationships among workers, unions, business, and the state from World War I through the mid-1980s. In this revised edition, Robert Zieger makes use of recent scholarship and bibliographical material to provide a detailed examination of the key issues of the 1980s and 1990s.
Zieger shows how economic change, the unions’ unresponsiveness, and anti-union public and corporate policies have combined to erode workers’ standards and labor’s influence. From the PATCO strike of 1981 through the bitter 1993 debate over NAFTA, unionists have struggled unsuccessfully to halt declining membership and assert labor’s influence in the political arena. Zieger reviews [then] currently popular notions of “alternatives to unionism” as means of achieving fair workplace representation, but he concludes that strong unions remain essential in a democratic society. He proposes that labor’s new responsiveness to the concerns of women, African Americans, and low-wage workers offers hope for the embattled labor movement.