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Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, 1912-1921 by Joseph A. McCartin (1998-02-09)

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  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • The University of North Carolina Press (1684)
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Review Text

  • By Gary Mcgrane on September 1, 2012

    For those who thought FDR was the leading left leaning progressive President with the "New Deal" social engineers should give pause and think again. Woodrow Wilson, his progressive labor leaning and political appointments were the foundation and building block for organized labors growth during the Great War. It was a war fought on two fronts one overseas with modern weapons of destruction and the other battle here at home over power and autocracy in the workplace. It would seem that political democracy had grown roots in the private industrial environment. Labor peace would come at a price. McCartrin's historical and well documented portrayal of the struggle for "industrial democracy" between 1912-1921 establishes an understanding about modern labor/management relations well into the twenty-first century. For labor to known where it is heading McCartin describes where organized labor struggles began. McCartin's objective discussion lends itself to a side of history less reported. The author presents the facts truthfully and without elaborate embellishment.

  • By J. Grattan on January 4, 1999

    This book catalogs in great detail the various labor-related alphabet governmental agencies of WWI, especially the WLB, and their interventions in some of the major labor disputes of WWI. Obviously much research has gone into detailing names of key players and the sequence of events. But this book is supposed to be about industrial democracy. While it is stressed that the term "industrial democracy" came to the fore during this period, there is limited coverage of why this is so and the nature of any industrial democracy that may have been established. No where in the book is there a detailed look at how industrial democracy worked in an actual place of work. Many obvious questions are left unanswered. How widespread was any such industrial democracy? How did the typical worker or the media react to the concept? How did shop committees and trade unions interact? Also, it is unclear as to what the author's claims are regarding industrial democracy's lasting effects. He clearly shows that employers dominated the ERP's of post-WWI. The New Deal intervention in labor affairs was clearly not one of instituting democracy. McCartin does indicate that labor relations of the current period seem to have come almost full circle to some form of 19th century thinking. Basically, McCartin's book seems to indicate that "industrial democracy," whatever that was, was not much more than a blip on the screen of labor history. His book needed to focus far more on just what industrial democracy is and its difficulties and transience in real working peoples lives as well as an institution. The role of the AFL in stifling industrial democracy is given insufficient weight.

  • By A customer on January 30, 1999

    This is a wonderful history of labor and "industrial democracy" in the World War I era. Mr. McCartin writes with bold force about the idea of "industrial democracy" and how it helped to shape the American labor movement at a pivital point in this nation's history. Mr. McCartin's illumination of Frank Walsh's role in this interesting period was particularly insightful. In addition to being painstakenly researched, this book was written with a style rare for most history books. This is clearly the best book yet written about labor in World War I.

  • By A customer on August 21, 1999

    I throughly enjoyed this insightful book

  • By A customer on February 27, 1999

    The author provides great detail about the WWI industrial democracy debate. As a student, I found this book very useful in developing my own work and understanding of that time period's labor movement. Great resource for researchers. Two thumbs up!


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