Birth of the "Open Shop"
Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement

Quinn, Patrick M.
Date Written:  2017-07-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21617

Book review of Chad Pearson's Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement.



Some leaders of the "open-shop" movement actually believed in and supported the actions and values of the progressive movement, especially its efforts to eliminate child labor, establish safer working conditions, and break up trusts and monopolies. But the great majority of the leaders cynically articulated "progressive" values and incorporated them into their rationale for opposing union organizing efforts.

Does all this sound familiar? The origin of the "the right to work" concept, which prevails in 2017, had its inception well over a century ago as did the concept of "free labor." The employers argued that the concepts of the "right to work" and "free labor" were the very essence of democracy. These became their mantra to keep unions out of their workplaces.

By the beginning of the 20th century the language of "free labor," which had originally described white workers, primarily in the North as opposed to African-American slave labor in the South, had evolved to describe workers to be "free" to reject membership in unions.
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