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The IndustrialistsHow the National Association of Manufacturers Shaped American Capitalism$
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Jennifer A. Delton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167862

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167862.001.0001

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Fighting Unions

Fighting Unions

(p.62) 3 Fighting Unions
The Industrialists

Jennifer A. Delton

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) as an explicitly anti-union organization with the stated goal of maintaining the “open shop”—or union-free workplaces. NAM's chief target was the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which, like NAM, sought to bring order and standardization to the field of labor, but on workers' terms. NAM fought the AFL using many of the same tactics the AFL deployed against employers: disciplined organization, injunctions, lobbying, and what it variously called “propaganda” or “education.” The battle between NAM and the AFL was epic, conceived by both as a struggle for control of the American workplace. Unions and industrialists—both wary of the state—fought one another for control. Neither the AFL nor NAM were truly representative of their alleged constituency (“workers” and “industry,” respectively), but they were the organizations most fully engaged in this battle, each vilifying the other as “the enemy,” both claiming to uphold American individualism.

Keywords:   labor unions, union-free workplaces, American Federation of Labor, AFL, American workplace, industrialists, American individualism, National Association of Manufacturers, anti-union organization, National Association of Manufacturers

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