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    :: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 ::

    Why History May be a Bad Guide to What's Happening this Week at the AFL-CIO Convention - By Jefferson Cowie, Associate Professor, Cornell University - History News Network
    Seventy years ago this October, the American Federation of Labor met in Atlantic City to resolve two years of brewing 'discord, dissension, division, and disunion,' in the words of historian Irving Bernstein. The tension was palpable at the Chelsea Hotel in 1935, where the forces demanding a massive push to organize basic industry - steel, auto, rubber, electrical - squared off with the lords of craft unionism who sought to defend craft skill, status, and skin privilege that had become the hallmarks of the AFL. While the dissident advocates of industrial unionism had the arc of justice on their side, the defenders of the status quo could point to the graveyard of labor history, which was strewn with the failures of industrial unionism from the Knights of Labor through Eugene Debs's railway workers and onto the failed massive strike wave of 1919.
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