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From a “negotiatory” to a “belligerent” employers’ association: Organized master printers of Columbus, OHIO, 1887–1987

Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations

ISBN: 978-1-84950-932-9, eISBN: 978-1-84950-933-6

Publication date: 22 February 2010


The growth of organized labor during the latter part of the nineteenth century triggered an organizational impulse on the part of employers across the country. Although some employers’ associations began as “negotiatory” bodies engaged in collective bargaining, the vast majority of them shifted toward a more “belligerent” approach. Academic scholarship has generally focused on the belligerents at the national level. Recently, some scholars have begun to study organized employers at the community level, but they continue to feature the more typical staunchly anti-union associations. This study of Columbus, Ohio's master printers’ association reveals a different pattern of local labor relations during the years between 1887 and 1960 – an association that had generally smooth bargaining relationships with craft unions. Columbus’ conservative and sheltered economy enabled the longstanding cooperative shared printing craft culture to thrive. But changes in Columbus’ economy, shifts in larger patterns of industrial relations, the hard-line influence of the national employers’ association, and technological changes altered the context of local labor relations. The result was that, by 1960, the Columbus association sought the upper hand in labor relations by becoming a more traditional and belligerent employers’ association. This story of “latecomers” adds to our understanding of organized employer behavior under different historical periods and circumstances.


Stanger, H.R. (2010), "From a “negotiatory” to a “belligerent” employers’ association: Organized master printers of Columbus, OHIO, 1887–1987", Lewin, D., Kaufman, B.E. and Gollan, P.J. (Ed.) Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations (Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 69-125.



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