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Labors’ Divided House: Contextual and Theoretical Terms of the U.S. Divorce

Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations

ISBN: 978-0-76231-386-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-470-6

Publication date: 1 January 2006


The author places the departure by the Change to Win Coalition from the AFL–CIO in contextual and theoretical terms. For context, it is argued that associational rights for U.S. wage-earners have historically and generally been subordinate to the rights of capital owners. As such, the rules regulating industrial relations tend to punish broad acts of wage-earner solidarity, channeling labor toward a strategy of achieving a larger share of the rewards of production through private contracts with employers. This has given birth to business unionism, a style of union representation characterized as exclusionary, neutral with regard to political party, business-like in operation, and accommodative to market capitalism. Presently, the internationalization of capitalism is challenging business unionism by exposing its contradictions and vulnerabilities. As political theory would predict, this is pressuring the AFL–CIO and affiliates to socialize labor–capital conflict. This shift, in turn, resulted in several major points of contention within the house of labor, leading to the departure of the Change to Win affiliates.


Zullo, R. (2006), "Labors’ Divided House: Contextual and Theoretical Terms of the U.S. Divorce", Lewin, D. and Kaufman, B.E. (Ed.) Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations (Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 333-358.



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