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Smokestacks in the HillsRural-Industrial Workers in West Virginia$
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Lou Martin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039454

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039454.001.0001

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Prosperous, Independent Rural-Industrial Workers

Prosperous, Independent Rural-Industrial Workers

(p.92) Chapter 4 Prosperous, Independent Rural-Industrial Workers
Smokestacks in the Hills

Lou Martin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the variety of methods used by semiskilled operatives and unskilled laborers to improve their working conditions and to extract better wages and benefits from their employers during the 1940s and 1950s. Unlike millions of urban-industrial workers, they did not join truly national labor organizations and participate in national strikes. Instead, they relied on a system of local negotiations, often informal, occasionally invoking state and federal agencies to influence the outcome. Because this system delivered many of the same material benefits that American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) unionists won in these decades, local steel and pottery workers saw no need to make fundamental changes to their systems of collective bargaining, and they come to value the local nature of labor relations.

Keywords:   unskilled laborers, national labor organizations, national strikes, local negotiations, American Federation of Labor, Congress of Industrial Organization, collective bargaining, labor relations

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