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The Labor Board CrewRemaking Worker-Employer Relations from Pearl Harbor to the Reagan Era$
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Ronald W. Schatz

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043628

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043628.001.0001

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Down-to-Earth Utopians

Down-to-Earth Utopians

(p.75) 4 Down-to-Earth Utopians
The Labor Board Crew

Ronald W. Schatz

University of Illinois Press

The Labor Board vets insisted that they were always realistic and had no ideological convictions of any kind. This chapter argues that such a characterization is not accurate. Clark Kerr, John Dunlop, and the other veterans of the board’s staff were in truth utopians—not utopians as that term is usually imagined, but liberal reformers who believed that they could transform the world over time, one step at a time. The famous German sociologist Karl Mannheim termed that mindset “liberal-humanitarian utopian.” The chapter looks back to their youth to explain how they came to that worldview and how unarticulated utopian beliefs pervaded their teaching, writing, and other work. The chapter concludes with the prediction advanced by Clark Kerr, John Dunlop, Charles Myers, and Frederick Harbison that the U.S. and Soviet systems would converge in the future--a conviction that appeared realistic in the latter 1980s and the early 1990s.

Keywords:   industrial relations, conflict resolution, arbitration, mediation, utopianism, convergence theory, industrial pluralism, Clark Kerr, Lloyd Fisher, Cornell University

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