Newstalgia Reference Room with The State Of The Unions. A documentary on the state of the Labor Union in 1969 as viewed by labor leaders, organizers, the Nixon Administration, the workers.
April 11, 2011

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Labor in 1969 - struggling for a piece of the dream then - struggling for a piece of the dream now.


It's interesting to draw parallels between the state of the Labor Movement in 1969 and the state of the Labor Movement now. For one thing, the rank-and-file numbers have changed. For another, in 1969 there wasn't the concept of "outsourcing", and multi-national corporations were only just beginning to creep into the picture. China was knee-deep in the Cultural Revolution, India was pretty much isolated and the tag "made in Japan" still had a certain drawback, except in electronics.

But the similarities are still the same - struggling to get a piece of the American Dream, fighting for a decent wage and, in the case of the Farm Workers, a struggle to get recognition at all.

Cesar Chavez: “Certainly as a laboring man in America, he (the Mexican American) has been totally and completely been forgotten. He’s the only working man in America that’s not been included under the Beneficial Labor legislation that this country has offered other working men. He’s the only working man in America who does not have a union. The American farm workers excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, you have to resort to the same kind of struggle that unions had to fifty years ago. Ours is the beginning and all we’re asking for at this point really is recognition. And any good union guy, any trade unionist will understand that, when you’re fighting for recognition, it’s a long fight.”

So the playing field and the rules have changed. The basic concept of earning a decent wage and achieving a level of dignity hasn't. Some things are just universal and timeless.

In October of 1969, NBC Radio as part of their Second Sunday series, ran this documentary on the State Of The Unions as they existed some 42 years ago.

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