Panel: Changing Economic Realities and the Changing Role of Unions


This conference is being held at the end of what the New York Times called, in an editorial yesterday, “a dramatic week for American Labor.” The Times was not referring to the drama yet to be unfolded at this conference. The drama referred to lay in the unprecedented contracts that were approved this week by Ford Motor Company and the UAW and by the trucking industry and the Teamsters Union. Givebacks were the order of the day. With the spectre of plant closings and increased unemployment hovering over the negotiating table, the term “concession bargaining” has made its dramatic entry into the lexicon and tactics of labor relations. It cannot be more obvious that the labor movement is compelled to devise new strategies at the negotiating table and in the political arena. The depression of the thirties gave rise to the industrial union movement. What will be the impact of the depression of the eighties on this labor movement? What should it do, and what can it do? The subject of this panel will be “Changing Economic Realities and the Changing Role of our Unions.”

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