The image of labor organization in church and trade union, 1945-1955
Thomas, Stanley Whitaker
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This study selects two segments of American society, church and labor, within which to examine official pronouncements of specific agencies for the purpose of setting forth the image of labor organization contained therein. The study seeks to contribute to the understanding of the nature of labor organization by examining the image of organized labor held by national levels of church and labor organizations, and to test the hypothesis that the disparaties in image between church and labor groups has led to ambiguity in the church-labor relationship and to confusion with respect to church strategy concerning labor organization. The source material for this study is made up of the official pronouncements of the selected groups consisting of the national agencies of the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Within each group the study is confined to the highest level of national organization and the verbalizations which issue from that source. The method used in handling the data represents a median between statistical procedures of content analysis and purely qualitative procedures. The investigation is set forth in the form of a preliminary historical survey of labor organization in America and is followed by an analysis of the pronouncements of the agencies selected for study. The images of labor organization which emerge from this study can be summarized as follows: 1) The A. F. of L. sees itself during this period as the defender of the kind of labor organization that protects the basic economic welfare of the workingman by preserving his "freedom" to bargain collectively with the employer without government intervention. Laissez-faire collective bargaining is looked upon as the crucial means by which greater material prosperity can be won and is often identified with the essence of "freedom" itself. 2) The C. I. 0. image of itself relates labor organization more positively to government and shows less tendency to worry about government intervention. C. I. O. pronouncements emphasize collective bargaining as an obligation as well as a right and see it as a contribution to industrial democracy and democracy in general. 3) The image of labor organization revealed in the major Protestant agency during the period under study reveals an increasing tendency to see labor organizations as "big labor" and coordinate in power with management. 4) The image of labor organization revealed in the pronouncements of the National Catholic Welfare Conference displays a more frankly sympathetic acceptance of labor organizations as they are, with some concrete suggestions as to how they might be improved in line with Catholic social policy. Church policy shows a tendency to react to past forms of labor organization rather than to witness to present forms of labor organization. D1e Industry Council Plan promoted by the Roman Catholic church gives a frame of reference and a goal for Catholic policy not apparent in Protestant statements. The social justice ideals of earlier Protestant efforts served to relate the Protestant churches meaningfully to the emerging "labor movementn in the struggle for "rights," but at the same time unwittingly encouraged a materialism within labor organization. The pronouncements of the National Council during the ten year period following the close of World War II fail to disclose either a comparable crusade for the goals of organized labor or a comprehensive framework for the understanding of the nature and role of labor organization. It would seem that both the idea of "community" and the Protestant idea of the "calling" might serve as possible starting points for the development of a meaningful Protestant witness to organized labor.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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