Society of African Journal Editors

South African Journal of Sociology

Contesting the dinosaur image — the U. S. labour movement's search for a future

Authors: Richard W. Hurd

Journal: South African Journal of Sociology

In the period following World War II, unions in the U.S. adopted administrative practices that set the stage for implementation of the “servicing model.” This strategic approach worked reasonably well for more than a quarter of a century but inhibited any effective response to the multifaceted crisis of the 1980s. In spite of labour's vigilant efforts to adapt as it struggled to weather the storm, the priority placed on institutional preservation inhibited creativity. Cautious strategic modifications failed to reverse the movement's fortunes, persuading a majority of national union officials to support calls for more radical change. With a clear focus on organizing, the new AFL-CIO team is vigorously contesting labour's dinosaur image, but substantial challenges remain.